The Spanish health service is very good. Not perfect, and there are cuts in hospital beds, cuts in staff and a change in basic prescription charges, but still good. We read in Expatica that ‘Spain spends about 10 percent of its GDP on healthcare, and is ranked 6th in the EU for the number of doctors with around four doctors per 1,000 people’. Now, that’s good! The largest fly in the ointment currently is ‘the Incredible Spiriman’ (here), the Granada doctor who is causing politicians problems – and some resignations – as he organises large protests in Andalucía (see BoT 207) over cuts in service.
In a much smaller complaint (from the point of view of visitors and foreign residents), some foreigners have come across occasional problems in the hospitals that serve major resorts due to language and cultural issues (and you have to speak good Spanish before you know the difference between you culo and your codo). The clerical staff can become unhelpful at times, following exposure to enough foreigners complaining loudly in their own language. While Spanish private hospitals employ translators, the public ones, oddly, won’t (it would be to their own advantage to do so). Of course, there’s usually someone around who will be glad to help for a modest cash payment.
No doubt, following Brexit and the departure from the UK of either some (or most) of the Spaniards working in the NHS, the minor issue of not speaking at least English will recede.
The other concern (for Britons only) is the worrisome issue of the post-Brexit health agreements, whatever they may be.
A useful introduction to the Spanish National Health System is at Wiki here.
But, to return, the hospitals in Spain are excellent, the doctors are first rate and the system itself works. Why, even The New York Times thinks so.
From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight: ‘A big majority of Spaniards – 71% –think now is a good time to invest in property, if only they could’. About the same percentage say they can’t afford to...
‘More than €75 million is being pumped into sustainable building projects across Andalucía in a major green campaign. The Junta is financing environmentally-sound and long-lasting projects that will come to fruition before 2020. José Sánchez Maldonado, head of the department for employment and business, said the funding has been drawn from the region’s energy agency...’. Item from The Olive Press.
From The Wall Street Journal: ‘To Spain With Only a Carry-On: One U.K. Couple’s Dream Villa’. An interesting story...
From Mark Stücklin: ‘More than 87,000 families are squatting in homes in Spain, which adds up to around 270,000 people, according to a new study by the Instituto Cerdà. “The evolution of illegal occupation can be explained by the increase in poverty, the scarcity of social housing, and the existence of a stock of empty homes.” explains the report. The report concedes that a percentage of squatters are not needy, and take advantage of the situation, without quantifying the number. They estimate that squatters reduce the price of a property by between 40% and 60%, and most squatters do not cause problems in the neighbourhood, though some 10% to 25% do...’.
‘The legal labyrinth of rentals’. El País looks at the ever-more restrictive rules about renting out to tourists (will nobody think of the hotels!).
‘Justice was delivered recently when the Judge in the First Instance Court in Hellín found in favour of the 10 group members from the 3rd Finca Parcs Action Group Lawsuit.
The Lawsuit submitted to the Court in October 2015, was to claim a refund of almost 250,000 Euros paid by the claimants between 2005 & 2008 to the developer’s accounts opened at Banco CAM for off-plan properties that were never built at the failed Finca Parcs development in Albacete. The Court convicted the bank to return the off-plan deposits together with interest from the date the payments were made to the developer’s account & legal costs. The off-plan project, Las Higuericas Finca Parcs, which is close to the village of Argramón in the province of Albacete, was abandoned in 2009 when the bank withdrew funding and the developer ran out of money. Only around 10% of the 617 luxury detached villas were completed, but not even those were issued with the First Occupation Licence by the local Town Hall. Cancellation of the purchase contracts as part of this procedure was not required as the serious contractual breaches of the developer, including the failure to obtain the First Occupation Licences, was established in the previous cases’. Press Release from Finca Parks Action Group (here).
The Irish also suffered problems: ‘A retired Detective Garda whose savings went south in the Spanish property crash wants to help others dealt the same fate recoup their deposits. Pauline McDonagh’s family lost money in 2005 but she is now chasing the money on foot of a new ruling forcing Spanish banks to refund down payments – with interest. At least 60,000 Irish investors believed to have been burned have been thrown a lifeline thanks to the Madrid Supreme Court decision, but time is running out...’. From The Irish Mirror.
The Mar Menor is without any Blue Flags – just as it is starting to recover, says El País.
Hosteltur reports that the Andalusian minister for tourism says that he intends to ‘close the clandestine tourist offer across the region’.
We were rather impressed by this. A watch for granddad with a GPS in it (in case he gets lost), a 'Help!' button and a telephone link. It tells the time, too!
Headline from El País: ‘Brussels raises to 2.8% Spain's growth forecast for 2017. The Commission reviews Spain’s economic progress and places it above the rest of Europe’.
From El País in English: ‘Spain’s Finance Ministry is set to begin proceedings to retrieve just under €1 billion (1,000 million euros) in tax breaks given to around 100 leading Spanish companies that have acquired or bought stakes in overseas firms since 2002, ministry sources have told El País. The decision, outlined in the Finance Ministry’s 2017-2020 Stability Plan, is based on a European Court of Justice ruling from December backing the European Commission’s view that the tax breaks given to Spanish companies buying more than a 5% stake in foreign businesses were illegal under European Union (EU) competition rules. The estimated €1 billion the government expects to recover is well short of the €8 billion Brussels had cited...’.
89% of those who sought an amnesty over their foreign holdings back in 2012, have still not been audited by Hacienda, says El Mundo here.
‘Spain remains the country with the highest public deficit in the whole of the EU. And the debt continues to increase. According to data from the Bank of Spain published on Wednesday, the indebtedness of all Public Administrations rose in March by 11,160 million euros compared to the previous month, reaching a colossal 1.129 billion euros, the largest amount of debt ever accumulated in the history of Spain...’. El País reports here.
Spaniards average salaries have risen by five euros a month in the past five years, according to Yo Me Tiro Al Monte here.
‘In the world of banking, confidence and trust are a precious currency. The moment a bank loses them, things tend to spiral down quickly. Spain’s sixth biggest and desperately troubled bank, Banco Popular, appears to be well along the process of losing the confidence of its customers, and with it their deposits. Last year the bank lost 6.5% of its deposit base. But now, according to a report by the financial daily El Confidencial, the deposit outflow is swelling from a trickle into a deluge...’. Story at Wolf Street. There are reports of both the Santander and the Bankia considering an offer for the troubled bank.
The failed Castor offshore gas deposit was to be the largest natural gas deposit in Spain, but it ended up being a ruin for the public coffers. ACS, on the other hand, has already been compensated with 1,700 million euros. The Castor, located 21 kms off the Castellón shore, has been mothballed following unexpected earthquakes caused by the installation. The disastrous deal struck between Rodríguez Zapatero and Madrid businessman Florentino Pérez back in 2008 will be paid off, says El Confidencial, by Spain’s consumers in their gas bill right on up until 2044. TV reporter Jordi Évole at Antena3 has a documentary about the Castor debacle here.
‘Spain is proposing a complete overhaul of the euro zone. The government has handed Brussels proposals calling for an anti-crisis budget, a common unemployment insurance system, euro-bonds and the completion of the banking union, which would include the pooling of risks. Building on French President Emmanuel Macron’s own wish list of reforms to the EU economic system, Spain is now asking for “a real economic government,” according to a document that El País has seen...’. From El País in English here.
The President of the Madrid region Cristina Cifuentes has been accused by the UCO, a department of the Guardia Civil, of contractual irregularities. The politician denies the charges and the senior anti-corruption investigator has said that there is insufficient proof. The leader of Unidos Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, says that ‘it looks like Cifuentes is the new Esperanza Aguirre’ here. The leader of Ciudadanos, Alberto Rivera, says ‘it is worrying to see that the PP corruption is now tarnishing Cifuentes’ here. The right-wing media are pointing at ‘conspiracies’ and a ‘police state’, says the left-wing El Diario here.
Meanwhile, fresh doubt is being cast on the ‘impartiality’ of the senior anti-corruption investigator Manuel Moix, who, says El Diario, should not continue in his post. Here, on YouTube, is what the foreign Media think of the investigator. Moix, along with the Attorney General José Manuel Maza and the Minister for Justice Rafael Catalá, was ‘reproved’ by the Cortes on Tuesday, but Mariano Rajoy says he has full trust in the trio. Story here.
Who won the debate on Monday between Susana Díaz, Paxti López and Pedro Sánchez? It would appear to be the latter: the previous secretary of the PSOE, the man determined to support a motion against Mariano Rajoy, Pedro Sánchez. As to how he did, this depends which news-source you ask. According to El Mundo readers, the debate was won by Pedro at 41%, Susana with 36% and Paxti with 23% (here). The left-wing Público readers give Pedro 76% against Susana with 10% and Paxti with 15% (here). The right-wing ABC readers give the debate to Susana with 46.3%, Pedro at 40.4% and Paxti at 9.8%. (All Monday night figures). The actual chances of Pedro winning are, nevertheless, rather small.
‘Susana Díaz: the scandals that no one talks about’. An article at Nueva Revolución here.
A site called Casos Aislados (here) lists the main cases of corruption and fraud in Spain. Despite its name ('casos aislados' is the excuse used by the politicians: 'rare cases'), there are quite a lot of these scams going on. The total embezzled against the Spanish people, according to this site, is estimated at a thundering 83,443,875,539 €.
‘Anticorrupción’ accuses Iberdrola of making itself 20 million euros in the winter of 2013 by manipulating the price of electricity, says El País here.
LaSexta TV has a video item claiming that three important reports on the improper activities of a previous mayor of Madrid ‘have gone missing’.
The judge in charge of the Púnica and Lezo Inquiries (Madrid PP corruption here and here) will be substituted by another from the beginning of June. Judge Eloy Velasco will transfer to another court at his own request.
You can’t have a referendum, even one on independence, without ballot boxes. ‘The state prosecutor José María Romero de Tejada files a complaint before the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia against the Minister for Governance, for the crimes of malfeasance, disobedience and misuse of public funds’. Minister Borràs is in trouble over the purchase of ballot boxes for the referendum. From Vilaweb.
Judges in Sevilla have slammed Junta boss Susana Díaz’s claims that there is a conspiracy against the PSOE in Andalucía. It comes after two ex-Junta presidents were officially ordered to stand trial in the ERE case, that is set to begin this autumn. In total, 22 socialist politicians, civil servants and the ex-leaders will face trial over the corruption case that involves the theft of almost one billion euros over a decade. Díaz, the current president, insists she was not involved and claims the announcement of the trial was ‘politically-motivated’ to deflect attention away from the PP government’s own corruption problems...’. The story at The Olive Press here.
From El País comes this: ‘The European Union cannot sign trade agreements without consulting the region’s national parliaments. The EU Court of Justice ruled this Tuesday in a decision on a treaty with Singapore whose effects will be felt much further, as this could change the final outcome of negotiations like the future trade pact with Britain after the Brexit...’. In short ‘any EU country will be able to veto a commercial agreement post-Brexit’.
‘The Spanish Government creates a team to advise Spaniards on 'Brexit' issues. The ‘Task Force Brexit’ will place 15 employees in the Embassy and Consulates across the United Kingdom to take care of the "increasing worries" of the Spanish residents’. From El País.
‘Spain sets sights on post-Brexit citizens’ deal. Spain will push for a post-Brexit deal on citizens as close as possible to the status quo, according to the country’s foreign minister, who expressed frustration that London was overcomplicating the issue. The government in Madrid, emboldened by an economic recovery and a measure of political stability, is marking its return to the larger European diplomatic stage by staking out a firm position on citizens — and adding a potentially complicating factor to the already fractious Brexit negotiations...’. From Politico here.
Post-Brexit citizens rights are also discussed at The Guardian: ‘MEPs will block any Brexit deal threatening EU citizens' rights. No consent unless rights of EU nationals in UK and Britons in Europe are upheld, says Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt’.
EuroCitizens (here) appeared on Wednesday before the 'comisión mixta sobre Brexit' at the 'Congreso de los Diputados en Madrid'. They brought with them a document which reflects the current position of the anti-Brexit group called British in Europe as well as dealing with Spain-specific issues like dual nationality. They also included specific points that Spanish groups mentioned, like political rights, and a message from 'Españoles en el RU'. We should have a full report next week.
From Europa Press comes an article which begins: 'The Spanish Government has requested an official investigation into the xenophobic attacks perpetrated against Spanish individuals or businesses in the United Kingdom since the referendum in which it was decided to leave the EU (Brexit). The crimes of hate against foreigners have increased since the consultation and, although their main victims have been Polish citizens, there have also been cases that have affected Spaniards...'. The item goes on to mention a Spanish citizen, attacked with a wooden board in the street, after a British yob heard him speaking Spanish.
A Spanish friend comments 'in general, the Spaniards in the UK are young professionals at work, not like the type of drunken Brit that we get here'.
You see how easy it is?
An article in El Ideal about those foreigners who come to live in Spain begins with what we like, and what we don’t. This appears to be ‘the food, the street life, the buen rollo, the climate and the people’. As for the bad things about Spain as viewed by the foreign settlers, we are told, these are ‘the bureaucracy, the lack of initiative, the low salaries and the poor spoken English’...
How to obtain Spanish nationality. The site is run by the Ministerio de Justicia in English.
That malware attack: ‘Around a dozen major Spanish firms including former state telecommunications company Telefónica are among the victims of the worldwide malware attack which has affected over 150 countries and 200,000 Windows users in recent days...’.
World War Three will be a cyber-war, says El Mundo knowingly. An article on this here.
‘Deep in a mountainside 40 miles outside Madrid, past a gift shop, a pair of immense, sword-wielding angels, and a tapestry of the four horsemen of the apocalypse in full rampage, lie the remains of Francisco Franco. Fresh red and white carnations sit on top of the simple stone slab that marks the tomb of the fascist dictator. On the other side of the altar, similarly garlanded, lies José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Falangist party...’. From The Guardian here. A parliamentary decision to remove the remains of these two has however not yet been formalised, although the mayor of Águeda del Caudillo (now, to his everlasting regret, known simply as Águeda), has suggested to the Franco family that the dictator’s remains, together with an appropriate memorial museum, would be most welcome in the pueblo, a village started in 1954 by the Caudillo himself.
Engineer students at the UPCT polytechnic in Cartagena have built a solar-powered vehicle which they hope will take away the first prize in the London Shell Eco-Marathon (here) later this month. See the vehicle with Nova Ciencia here.
Tráfico is working to get a permanent driving ban for anyone who is caught twice ‘over the drink limit’. It’s coming...
Which speed radars make the most in fines? El País shows us on a map here.
‘The Guardia Civil has arrested fourteen people after discovering a food fraud of national scope in a Burgos meat company that made low quality products by altering the composition and commercializing it deep frozen throughout Spain as ‘beef’. The agents found that, at least since 2002, the various products from the plant, generally distributed as deep-frozen, could contain less than 25% of beef...’. El Huff Post explains.
Not everything in a meat product is meat... El Diario has the recipe.
A dangerous burglar known as El Niño Sáez was gunned down in the streets of Madrid on Sunday. The fellow, a house-breaker from the earliest age, was a violent offender called Francisco Javier Martín Sáez, considered as one of Spain’s most feared delinquents. Sáez had rarely been in jail over the course of his life and was 36 when he died at the hand of an unknown killer. He burgled jewellers, sacked lorries, stole luxury cars and even stole 120 kilos of confiscated cocaine from the Málaga police. He would crash stolen cars into the windows of shops to steal their wares. He was arrested over thirty times, but almost always managed to get out of trouble with ‘provisional freedom’ (ahh... lawyers!). He and his gang are estimated to have acquired a fortune of around 150 million euros. El Español reports here. There’s an interesting map of ‘organised crime’ at El País here.
From The Guardian: ‘Top 10 restaurants and tapas bars in Huelva, Spain. A byword for great produce, this small city in Andalucía with 200 restaurants is Spain’s gastronomy capital for 2017. Picking 10 of the best is no mean feat’.
‘Back in 2012, I discovered the craft of Marquetry, known in Spanish as Taracea here in Granada. The word taracea comes from the Arab word ´Tarci´ which means to incrust. Since the 14th century Taracea has been produced in the city of Granada. So that´s over 600 years old. It´s the only place in Spain where it is still made and sadly seems to be a dying art form. As I write this I´d love to think that sharing this information makes a difference. Hopefully people visiting Granada can appreciate this local craft and understand the intricate work that goes into each piece...’. From Molly at Piccavey here.
For those who believe that Galicia is part of the Celtic countries, here is Granada’s popular radio program, the weekly hour-long Aires Celtas, with some great music.
Business over Tapas 18 May 2017 Nº 209
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
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