Business Over Tapas 15 October 2015 Nº 133

15 Octubre 2015 1016 votos

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Editorial:

The one family that has unwillingly found fame through the politics of the threat of demolishing homes across Andalucía, and indeed the first family to have their home knocked down, back in January 2008, is the Priors. Practically household names among the foreign residents, Helen and Len Prior have that peculiar British characteristic of not turning away from trouble. They have been an embarrassment to the politicians of San Telmo in Seville for almost eight years as they continue to live, as best they can, in the garage next to their ruined house. But now, look. As the couple were attending a fund-raising meeting held by the splendid AUAN in a nearby town, the Prior’s residence was ransacked last week by burglars.

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Housing:

From The Independent: ‘Britons buying a fifth of all Spanish property sold to foreigners.

New figures indicate moribund prices and a strong pound are making holiday homes in the sun more appealing’...

An article in El País enthuses about houses built from wood. They are cheaper and quicker to build and are more energy efficient. Unfortunately, the traditional brick, bloque and cement home is the norm in Spain and Town Hall planners can be remarkably resistant to innovation.

Your residence status, explained by The Eastbourne Herald: ‘While the thought of going abroad to work or retire may be exciting, the months leading up to departure are likely to be highly stressful. It is vital that you pay adequate attention to financial planning. In particular, the tax consequences of leaving the UK are quite complex, so it’s essential that you seek professional advice...’.

‘A change in the law allows extra protection for illegal urbanisations’, says El Diario disapprovingly. Buyers in good faith will need to be fully compensated before any demolition can go ahead – a situation, according to Ecologistas en Acción, which makes the destruction of an illegal urbanisation almost impossible. The only point where the ecologists and the indignant residents concur: sentences arrive late and achieve little.

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Tourism:

 

Tourism is undoubtedly the Spanish miracle, with massive numbers of foreign visitors (perhaps 68 million for 2015) bringing with them untold amounts of money to be spent here. But, argues an article at Sabemos Digital, is this good old Spanish knowhow, or more a series of happy coincidences? Let’s see: Some of Spain’s rivals are in civil war or simply dangerous. The cost of petrol has collapsed. The Euro is down against other currencies. A large part of the tour operators’ money stays in their home country. Many visitors to Spain are counted – perhaps inaccurately – as ‘turistas’ (those changing flights in Madrid, or cruise-ship passengers...). The recent invasion of algae in Caribbean waters (here). Spain is an attractive destination for many reasons: but a political, medical or geological emergency could change this situation overnight.

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Finance:

Spain's government on Tuesday vowed the country would meet its targets for lowering the deficit of its recovering public finances, in the face of scepticism from EU authorities. As it prepares to fight for re-election in December, it denied claims that its budget forecasts were too optimistic...’. From The Local.

Volkswagen (SEAT) and Spain: an article from Wolf Street about the troubled car manufacturer ends with this: ‘... “It seems that the government’s electoral campaign is more important than the interests of the country’s workers and citizens,” said Matías Carnero, the president of Seat’s business committee, adding that the Minister’s intervention had “pissed everyone off.”...’.

An opinion piece in 20 Minutos respectfully reminds both the Government and the Spanish banking industry that the 61,495 million euro bail-out of the banks with Public money needs to be paid back. To date, only 4.3% has been returned, suggesting that little or nothing more can be expected. Why, then, did we bother to rescue them?

The AVE network will still be losing money fifty years from now, says El Confidencial gloomily, with some lines – haemorrhaging money endlessly. The contrast: The high-speed line Tokio – Osaka has 130 million passengers a year, Paris – Lyon 25 million and Spain’s SevilleMadrid just five million. All three lines cover similar distances.

Facing the ploy of Big Business juggling profit and loss and craftily declaring lower taxes in Ireland,says El País in English, ‘...this week, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented an ambitious 15-point plan to curb these tax-avoidance practices. The Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project hopes to make global firms pay taxes where their activities are really taking place...’. Spain has seven particularly deft tech groups who shift their profit line to other countries, according to the report: Amazon, Twitter, Microsoft, eBay, Google, Facebook and Apple. Meanwhile, the Irish, says El Economista, are actually currently reducing corporate tax to 6.25% (compare Spain at 28%) to help attract further shenanigans of a similar nature.

94,000 Spaniards ceased being ‘millionaires’ in 2015 (leaving a comfortable 360,000 of them), but there are still plenty of ‘super-millionaires’ here. El Mundo makes the case.

‘It is becoming harder than ever for expats to avoid paying the tax they owe thanks to international efforts to stop tax evasion. A year ago the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) co-ordinated an agreement to automatically swap tax information, with finance ministers from 51 countries signing up to the deal. Chancellor George Osborne said at the time that tax evasion was “not just illegal, it is immoral” and that because a tax evader was robbing their fellow citizens, they should be treated like “a common thief”...’. From The Telegraph. The five countries taking the lead (according to the article): Spain, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Russia. A Reader says: ‘As Spain tops this list - and as their tax authorities contain (not surprisingly) the least well-educated (and monoglot) tax authorities of any nation (of the eleven I have experienced), one would be well advised to pay attention to the possible dangers.

Their behaviour is not good with laws invented to suit themselves (totally unjustified and retrospective re-calculation of property sale taxes being one of their favourites) and applying others, also retrospectively, against foreigners. These are two amongst their lowest and least ethical points (and are oft reported on in the press).

Foreigners are not well set to resist - hence they are a target - whereas Spaniards (and their press) will tell you that over 60% of their efforts are aimed at foreigners and barely

40% of their work is undertaken against the nation's biggest crooks (and they are BIG!).

Although my Asesoria has won my battles (and had their false claims put aside for me) it is, nonetheless, for these reasons and above all others, that we shall leave Spain as soon as our property is sold.

Own a house in Spain by all means - but do not twin it with tax residency (or vice versa)!!!

Better still - just rent’.

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Politics:

Spain’s economy is back on track. In fact, it has never been better. That’s the narrative being peddled by the Rajoy government and all those who desperately need it to win December’s do-or-die general elections, including Spain’s big banks, corporate giants, and the Troika of international creditors. And they will do “whatever it takes” to keep the narrative intact...’. With Wolf   Street, there’s always a ‘but’ (six of them in this article).

Full and interesting précis from Typically Spanish of a revealing interview by the Treasury Minister Cristóbal Montoro to El Mundo: ‘Some of my companions are shameful for what we have done, for being PP’. In a two and a half hour interview, Montoro had all the time he needed to in his words for ‘deep reflection and sincerity’. ‘I am a strange right-wing minister because the IBEX index doesn’t like me’, he says...

El Diario reports that Mariano Rajoy has spent heavily on Defence, going 40% over-budget in this field – that’s 8,720 million euros extra in this legislature. Who is becoming wealthy off these succulent contracts, asks Público, introducing a book called ‘El lobby de la industrial militar española. Adónde van nuestros impuestos’ (Icaria) by Pere Ortega.

Arantza Quiroga, the leader of the Partido Popular in the Basque Country, has resigned. The reason: Madrid would not let her deliver a key speech asking for ‘an end to violence’ without making specific mention of the ETA terror group.

‘The mayors of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, where leftist parties and coalitions took over the city governments after the May 24 municipal elections, are the most popular politicians in their respective cities. That’s according to a new post-election survey conducted by the CIS state-run polling organization, and released on Wednesday...’. Found at El País in English.

Pedro Sánchez, the PSOE leader, says that the PP has ‘used the crisis to build on inequality’, and his government would initiate major political changes in various key areas including abolishing the Gag Law (‘Ley Mordaza’) lowering the high IVA on culture, improve education and other social guarantees. Nueva Tribuna has more here.

The Sun Tax: ‘Spain’s energy ministry has approved a new regulation for self-consumption, which has been branded as a deliberate attempt to avoid the development of PV and self-consumption within Spain, by the country’s solar association ... Spain’s energy ministry described the law as “a framework for the orderly development of consumption, ensuring the safety of the electrical system is established at all times”...’. Story at PVTech. Tricky stuff? El Diario says that the BOE (State bulletin) published an ‘unintelligible text of 44 pages to the confusion of citizens and journalists alike’.

The Partido Popular promotional video – from the emergency room to complete recovery (in four years).

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General Elections 20D

El País has published the latest poll, by Metroscopia, giving the lead by a hair to the PSOE. Results: PSOE at 23.5% followed by PP at 23.4%. Next comes Ciudadanos at 21.5% and trailing behind, Podemos at 14.1%. Another poll, perhaps less credible, comes from Podemos itself here: In this poll, we have the Partido Popular a clear leader at 20%, Podemos and PSOE at 15% each and Ciudadanos at 14%.

The Partido Popular is aware that it will not catch the same support as four years ago in the Christmas elections, and it will probably need to find a partner, such as Ciudadanos. There’s a red line though, says El País in English: ‘...“Ciudadanos can ask for and demand to negotiate whatever it likes, and we are open to talk about anything, ... but we are not going to allow them to be the ones who decide or determine who is our candidate.”...’ - that’s to say: Mariano Rajoy. The Ciudadanos leader, Albert Rivera, says he doesn’t think a pact is possible: ‘We didn’t put this all together just so that Rajoy can become president again’.

Salvados is a popular TV show on La Sexta, interviews of public figures by the oddly uncharismatic Jordi Évole. He finds good interviewees though, with Julio Iglesias last Sunday, and this coming Sunday, a special with Ciudadanos and Podemos leaders Albert Rivera and Pablo Iglesias. A short promotional video shows the two politicians having a companionable coffee together and enthusing about the Julio Iglesias song ‘Soy un truhán, soy un señor’ : (I’m a Rascal, I’m a Gent).

It remains tough for Spaniards living abroad to vote – as the Partido Popular continues to block any relaxation of the stringent rules. Indeed, only around 5% of the ex-pat Spaniards will likely vote – and perhaps even less, as those registered to vote abroad won’t be able to vote at home... a situation which would arise in some cases during the 20D Christmas holidays. Is this a form of gerrymandering by the PP, as Spaniards abroad might be thought hostile to the Government’s record on employment?

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Corruption:

While the Judge Ayala has been removed from the ERE inquiry in Andalucía (see Courts below), another absence, this time a key financier called Eduardo Pascual, under investigation for his part in the fraud, has been noted by the National Audience. Breaking bail for 600,000€ but still with his passport – where has he gone, they wonder...?

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Catalonia:

 

The stumbling block to Artur Mas’ Junts Pel Sí and his vision of an Independent Catalonia is the other Independence party, the CUP, with its ten deputies. Oh, the anti-capitalist CUP wants independence all right, unilateral and now, they also want to disobey all and any laws from Madrid and furthermore to nationalise everything that isn’t nailed down in Catalonia. These conditions for a deal may not entirely convince the conservative side of the larger party... Story at Libre Mercado.

The Partido Popular is incensed (sic!) that the mayoress of Barcelona Ada Colau won’t turn on the Christmas illuminations for the city until December 1st. They call it ‘Festive Season Censorship’, since, as anyone knows, the Christmas lights should be up and burning by the 21st of November. The story at El Huff Post here.

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Courts

The Superior Court of Andalucía has ruled that Judge Mercedes Alaya will no longer be connected to the agonizing inquiry into the ERE. Meanwhile, the Catalonia Supreme Court, tasked by Madrid with finding Artur Mas guilty of sedition for the false referendum on independence last year, is complaining that it can’t do its job, what with all of the protestors gathering outside its gates... Both stories from El Mundo.

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Brexit:

 

‘...Over the last three decades, hundreds of thousands of Britons have used the EU's right to free movement to settle in Spain, drawn by warmer weather, cheaper property and a new life. But the implications of a referendum on EU membership that Prime Minister David Cameron has promised by 2017 are troubling some of the 800,000 Britons who have made Spain their home...’. From Reuters.

The Reino Unido: Who wants to stay in the EU, who wants to go? Article in El País here.

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Various:

 

From The Guardian: ‘Pedro J Ramirez is Europe’s top stool-stirrer. Long ago, he was editor of Diario 16 in Madrid until he fell out with its owner and went off to found El Mundo, whose list of scoops would make any journalist’s eyes water. El Mundo’s owner opted for a quieter life a couple of years ago, but Pedro is back, with El Español, a website that Spain may need to watch...’. The new website is now open. See it here.

 

‘According to a recent report ... four out of every ten job offers published in Spain for work abroad, are for jobs in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The report highlights that the number of job vacancies published in Spain for work overseas rose by 5.2% in 2014. Despite this, however, the proportion of foreign job offers over the total stood at just 0.9% since offers for work within Spain increased by almost the same percentage (4.9%)...’. Found at Kyero.

‘Spanish people are officially the healthiest in the world and women live longer than anywhere else in Europe, according to the WHO. But the World Health Organisation has warned that Spanish adults are also among the fattest, with 23.7% of adults aged 18-plus being considered clinically obese last year – higher than in 2010 when they accounted for 22.1% of the country's population...’. From Eye in Spain.

From today (Thursday), foreigners wishing to take out Spanish nationality will need to pay 300€ as part of the process, which includes language and a general knowledge test on Spain. They will need to have been ‘residente’ for at least ten years.

‘...Western Sahara is a divided territory with a complex, war-torn history. Spain ended more than 90 years of colonial rule of Western Sahara in 1975 after decades of a violent Sahrawi independence movement. When the Spanish left, Morocco sent 350,000 settlers and 20,000 troops into the territory, kicking off a war that lasted for 16 years...’. Story about ‘the longest minefield on the planet’ at DW here.

Following from last week’s story of ex-politician Trinidad Jiménez getting a job on the board at Telefonica, here’s another, the ex-president ofNavarra, Yolanda Barcina, to sit by her side.

One out of every four aquifers in Spain – which provide around 70% of water for towns under 20,000 inhabitants – is contaminated with nitrates from the heavy use of fertilisers in agriculture, which can be dangerous for the health of the local residents, says El Ventano, quoting the Instituto Geológico y Minero de España.

The huntin’ and shootin’ magazine Jara y Sedal has another scoop this week: they’ve found a cure for dogs sick with leishmaniosis, with a 95% cure-rate in tests!

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Urban abuse:

AUAN and SOHA

7th of October: the first reading of the Parliamentary Bill, to deal with illegal land divisions (parcelaciones urbanísticas) containing irregular houses, took place in the Parliament of Andalucia.

As Gerardo Vázquez, spokesperson for AUAN, and other associations, and who was present during the parliamentary session explained ‘Those affected support this change and in general are pleased with it. Obviously, it does not cure everything and we must continue to work. Whilst it is estimated that there are 300,000 illegal houses in Andalucía, the means to regularise 25,000 of these houses, would bring relief to 25,000 families, many of whom acquired their property in good faith and invested their life savings in Spain. Therefore AUAN, SOHA and other associations belonging to the CALU confederation welcome this change’.

After the parliamentary session, the associations briefly met with José Fiscal, Minister for the Environment, as well as members of the PSOE and members of the Ciudadanos parliamentary group such as Irene Rivera, spokesperson for this group, and others.

Maura Hillen, president of AUAN, who was also present in the parliamentary session, said ‘It was an exciting day. None of the political groups objected to the bill in its totality by submitting objections at this stage and we thank them for that. We understand that the bill will now pass to the Environmental and Planning Commission and we hope that the final text will be approved as soon as possible. It would, for example, be a good Christmas present for many people’. (Press note)

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Finally:

 

Enrique Iglesias – Bailando has been seen by over a billion people on You Tube so far. {jcomments on}

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