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Editorial:

The richest man in the world – sometimes, when he isn’t ousted to second place by Bill Gates – is Spain’s Amancio Ortega. He is estimated to have 71 thousand million euros as of November last year. (His daughter Sandra has another 7,600 million). Sr Ortega’s wealth comes from his Inditex fashion group, best known for its chain of Zara clothing and accessories retail shops (Wiki). He started pretty much from scratch in around 1950 after leaving school at 14 and finding employment in ‘the rag trade’; his father a lowly railway worker. He opened his first Zara shop in 1975.

 

Inditex itself is doing exceptionally well, with El País reporting that ‘Inditex, the group that owns chains like Zara, Oysho or Massimo Dutti, recorded a strong rise in sales in its first fiscal quarter, from February to April. Specifically, they stood at 5,569 million euros, up 14% on the same period in 2016. This led to its profits rising: the net result amounted to 654 million, an increase of 18%...’.

Amancio Ortega has recently captured the attention of his countrymen after he ‘...donated 320 million euros specifically for the acquisition of 290 pieces of oncology apparatus. It is one of the largest philanthropic donations ever made in the country. According to a statement by the Amancio Ortega Foundation, the charity set up by the billionaire in 2001, equipment would “allow more accurate diagnoses and provide patients with less aggressive, more effective and shorter treatments."...’. (From Newsweek here). However, not everyone was happy.

Why do we reject the infiltration into public health of Big Business and wealthy magnates? Asks Nueva Tribuna here.

El Mundo reports that some public health associations say that the gift should be returned, as ‘We aim towards adequate financing of our needs through a progressive tax system that redistributes resources prioritizing public health’, rather, they say, than through a gift which – while a huge amount – is small compared to the 1,256 million in dividends earmarked to go to Ortega from Inditex this year.

So, for Sr Ortega, perhaps the donation is a small thing: perhaps it is an exercise in self-promotion or a sop towards his creative tax activities. Should we accept such largess? Perhaps a better question might be – shouldn’t we encourage it?

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Housing:

The up and down nature of the recovery in the Spanish property market is revealed in the latest statistics which show that sales recorded in the Land Registry fell by 8% in April compared to a year ago. The figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) mean that the housing market has seen its biggest fall since February 2014 but it follows a big surge in March of almost 30%...’. From PropertyWire here.

The price of a new home is expected to increase by 8% this year, says ABC here.

House prices have risen the steepest in the past 12 months in Antigua (Fuerteventura) – at 26.1%; Gavá (Barcelona) 17.8% and Mojácar (Almería) with 17.3%, says El Mundo here.

...

Tourism:

The new version of the telephone app Alertcops is now available in 100 languages, says AgentTravel here. The Ministry of the Interior has also added extra police and Guardia Civil in tourist areas for the season. A video on the 2017 Security Plan for Tourism can be found here. From The Olive Press we read that ‘Spain doubles police officers to keep tourists and locals safe amid terror concerns. Spain has not had a terrorist attack since the devastating 2004 Madrid bombings’.

Are British tourism numbers to Spain safe from the Brexit issues, asks Hosteltur here.

The CaixaBank foresees that tourism will account for 16% of Spain’s GDP in 2017, with an estimated 84 million visitors...

The World Pride festival will run in Madrid from June 24th to July 2nd. The local hotels, according to El Confidencial, have put their prices up for the event...

Are there a few islands belonging to Spain in the Pacific? Apparently so. These tiny islands were simply forgotten when the papers were signed. They include Nukuoro, Rongerik and Kapingamarangi.

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Finance:

The fiscal amnesty of 2012, where those who revealed their holdings outside Spain were able to ‘regularise’ themselves with a 10% tax, has been declared illegal by the Constitutional Court. However, there will no extra claims made by Hacienda on those who took advantage of the amnesty. El Mundo explains here. In reality, the 10% tax collected on the monies held abroad was nearer 3%. Indeed, by the end of last month, only 11% of those who came in under the amnesty of 2012 had been audited by Hacienda. The PSOE is calling for Tax Minister Cristóbal Montoro’s resignation (here). We meet some of the larger fortunes that took advantage of the amnesty, including Bárcenas and Rodrigo Rato, in a spread at Europa Press here and a larger spread at El Diario here. The amnesty was appealed in its day by the PSOE, but, says Público here, ‘The slowness of the Constitutional Court in resolving the PSOE's appeal against the 2012 amnesty tax has prevented the Tax Agency from collecting at least 5,300 million euros from tax fraud...’.

The Banco Santander saved an enormous amount in tax by buying the Banco Popular, says El Confidencial – something around 5,000 million euros.

*A consumer association representing shareholders who lost their investment following the sale of the Banco Popular can be contacted at Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo. .

After the fall of the Banco Popular, we read at Wolf Street ‘...As Popular’s final days showed, once confidence and trust in a bank vanishes, it’s almost impossible to restore them. The fear has now spread to Spain’s eighth largest lender, Liberbank, a mini-Bankia that was spawned in 2011 from the forced marriage of three failed cajas (savings banks), Cajastur, Caja de Extremadura and Caja Cantabria...’.

Spain is calling for “aggressive” and rapid reforms of the single currency area, including the creation of a powerful pan-European treasury and a mechanism to force through labour market and other reforms in recalcitrant member states. “We have a window of opportunity of no more than six months after the German elections [in September],” Luis de Guindos, the Spanish economy minister, said in an interview. “There is a pervasive perception that there are flaws in the eurozone that we have to correct.”...’. From the Financial Times here.

...

Moción de Censura:

The vote of confidence in the Government debate lasted two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. The debate was called by Unidos Podemos and concerned the corruption of the Partido Popular. After the debating was all done, with all parties giving their presentation and their thoughts, and with Mariano Rajoy speaking (among others) for the Populares, the vote went, as expected, along party lines with the PSOE abstaining. (El Mundo puts it as ‘Congress refuses to allow Iglesias to become president’). Ciudadanos (the anti-corruption party) sided with the PP. Público reports that the PSOE and Unidos Podemos appear to have moved towards each other in policy, with some future ‘understanding’ possible after the summer. This is confirmed in an El País article on Thursday (here) and an anti-Podemos tirade in their editorial here.

The better than sixty major cases of corruption within the Partido Popular, listed and discussed by Irene Montero, the spokesperson for Unidos Podemos. These are Caso Gürtel,

Caso Púnica, Caso Lezo, Caso Acuamed, Caso Nóos, Caso Andratx, Caso Auditorio, Caso Baltar, Caso Bárcenas, Caso Biblioteca, Caso Bitel, Caso Bon Sec, Caso Bomsai, Caso Brugal, Caso Caballo de Troya, Caso Camps, Caso Campeón, Caso Carioca, Caso Carmelitas, Caso Castellano, Caso Catis, Caso Ciudad del Golf, Caso de la Construcción, Caso del Lino, Caso El Robledillo, Caso Emarsa, Caso Eólico Canarias, Caso Faycan,

Caso Fitur, Caso Funeraria, Caso Guateque, Caso Ibatur, Caso Imelsa, Caso Inestur, Caso Lasarte, Caso Líber, Caso Madeja, Caso Marchela, Caso Mercamadrid,

Caso Naseiro, Caso Nuevo Cartagho, Caso Ópera, Caso Orquesta, Caso Over Márketing,

Caso Palma Arena, Caso Patos, Caso Piscina, Caso Pokémon, Casi Porto, Caso Rasputin, Caso Scala, Caso Taula, Caso Terra Natura, Caso Torres de Calatrava, Caso Torrevieja, Caso Totem, Caso Troya, Caso Túnel de Sóller, Caso Turismo Joven, Caso Umbra, Caso Uniformes, Caso Zeta, Caso Parques Eólicos… and counting.

The moción de censura was an error, says an opinion piece in the left-wing El Diario here. The reason given is that this is not yet the moment, and a full coalition of the left still needs time to form.

...

Politics:

According to El Independiente, the PSOE agreed with the PP in a behind-closed-doors accord to keep the Bárcenas Inquiry bland so as to benefit Susana Díaz in her future (yet eventually frustrated) battle in the party primaries to take over the leadership of the party.

Público looks at some of the staggering waste of funds in Madrid during the Gallardón and Botella years.

José María Aznar’s ‘Instituto Atlántico de Gobierno’ appears to have its eye on a likely new leader for Spain... Albert Rivera! The story at El Mundo here.

The left wing (sic!) of Podemos has broken with Iglesias and is openly supporting the Catalonian referendum, says El Mundo here.

...

Corruption:

The best way for young people to find work, says El Mundo, is through an enchufe – a useful connection, either by family or a friend. In 2016, over 40% of all jobs found by young people were made through some social contact.

Spanish prosecutors have accused the Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of defrauding the authorities of €14.8m (£12.9m) in unpaid taxes between 2011 and 2014.

Madrid’s regional state prosecutor alleged that the player used what it deemed to be a shell company in the Virgin Islands to “create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain’s tax office”...’. Story at The Guardian here.

...

Catalonia:

The referendum will be held on October 1st, says Carles Puigdemont, president of the Catalonian region. The question will be ‘Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?’. More at El Huff Post here and The Guardian here.

Pep Guardiola joins call for referendum on Catalan independence. The Manchester City manager tells crowd of 40,000 at rally in Barcelona ‘we have no other option but to vote’. Story at The Guardian here. An editorial – here at El País in English – gives Guardiola his answer with ‘After his speech at the weekend, there is no other option but to remind the Manchester City coach that this country is a democracy’.

Spain's numbers would change with the departure of Catalonia. 'It would mean the loss of 25-30% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP), says Spain’s Minister of the Economy, Luis de Guindos. And that’s something the government “will never let happen.”...'. Quote taken from Wolf Street here. Tourist figures, too, would have to be reconsidered. 17 million of the 72 million international tourists that visited Spain last year went to Catalonia for their holidays. The size of Spain itself would shrink from 506,000 square kilometres to 474,000 km2. The population would shrink from 46,400,000 to around 38,900,000, and with the departure of Catalonia and its average GDP per person of $33,580 per year, the Spanish production, currently at $26,650 would fall as well.

The Catalonian independence groups, currently running the government there, want a referendum on secession from Spain to be held on the 1st of October, or, they say, they might just declare a unilateral state of independence beforehand (maybe in August, when Madrid in on holiday). From the figures above, it's not likely that Madrid will allow any of this to happen.

...

Gibraltar:

From the El Cano Royal Institute: ‘In the wake of the Brexit referendum, Spain submitted a negotiation proposal to the UK on Gibraltar that put joint sovereignty, dual nationality for the Gibraltarians and respect for their autonomy on the table. The Gibraltarians, who voted in favour of remaining in the EU, will be able to capitalise on the opportunity that this solution represents...’.

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Courts:

Francisco Granados, the ex-politician and councillor of the Madrid Region, has been released from jail following paying bail of 400,000€ says El Español here. He had been in preventative custody for his part in the Caso Púnica since October 2014.

...

Brexit:

From The New Europeans: ‘Calls intensify for unilateral guarantees for EU citizens in UK and Brits living in the EU’.

Mark Stücklin from Spanish Property Insight considers the results of the British elections here.

The number of EU nurses applying to work in the UK has dropped by a whopping 96% since last year’s Brexit referendum. Last July saw 1,304 nurses from the EU join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, compared to just 46 in April of this year. The Health Foundation has said the findings, which come at a time of chronic shortages in the UK’s National Health Service, could not be more stark, adding that they should act as a ‘wake-up call’...’. Found at The Olive Press here.

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Media:

The fall of an empire: Prisa is now worth less than Vocento’. Article at VozPópuli here.

Stop the press’. Really, management doesn’t like the article on the front page! A video looks at commercial censorship and other pressures on the journalist here. (On a similar subject, newspapers have been asked by Real Madrid not to use pictures of Ronaldo wearing his emblematic football shirt while talking of his tax problems).

One of Spain’s best comedy ‘news’ sites is El Mundo Today. One of Spain’s most alt-right news sites is OKDiario. With this in mind, we read that ‘El Mundo Today has announced that it is giving up printing false news as it says it can’t compete with OKDiario’.

...

Various:

The BBC discusses the Spanish siesta here: ‘It's time to put the tired Spanish siesta stereotype to bed. Spanish workers put in more hours than any in Europe despite their laid-back stereotype, but there are some who fear it could be a mistake to abandon the siesta completely. (Thanks John).

From The BBC: ‘How expats cope with losing their identity. After years away on a foreign posting, coming ‘home’ can be overwhelming and isolating. Here’s how many people cope with fitting back in...’.

Spanish suicide rates by gender, season and region. El País has the gloomy figures here.

Headline from El País in English: ‘A Super-fast data cable now links America and Europe. Work begins on the Spanish side to install the joint Facebook, Microsoft and Telefónica project’. The article notes that ‘...This underwater super-cable, which will count on an initial capacity of 160 terabits per second – a figure that will grow as the technology becomes available – is known as Marea. The project is due to be finished in a couple of months...’.

The price of fruit a bit low? ‘The Ministry of Agriculture recommends farmers to uproot fruit trees to drive the price up’, says a suitable horrified Crónica del Pajarito here.

Local to the Business over Tapas office in Mojácar, the town hall has decided to force a beach promenade, with a bicycle track, gardens and a sea-wall, straight through the resort’s best known and oldest beach bars. This would be their end, of course. The indignation at this plan has now reached the Cortes in Madrid where a choleric socialist gentleman has asked an overweight conservative gentleman ‘what the devil is going on?’.

The local police in Santa Cruz de Tenerife have arrested a man who thumped and robbed a gorilla (an illegal parking attendant) after, he says, he had paid the man something to watch his car... which was then taken by the grua.

From Typically Spanish: ‘A joint operation between the National Police and Almería Guardia Civil has ended the criminal activity of a dangerous criminal gang, specialising in assaulting tobacco shops and jewellers. The investigation ended with the detention of more than a dozen members, mostly Rumanian, who were based in El Ejido, and are accused of committing a least some thirty assaults between Granada and Almería provinces...’.

Hot? It’s getting hotter, says El Huff Post here, with a heat-wave through next Sunday.

...

See Spain:

One of Spain’s prettiest villages is Albarracín, in the province of Teruel. The story and pictures here.

Ten of Ibiza’s best hidden beaches. Chosen by The Guardian here.

...

Letters

Hi Lenox, I don't know if you have ever published anything about this particular subject, and the article is now two years old, but it could be of interest to many of your UK readers. I would guess that other tax-and-spend countries have access to similar programmes, so I send you this for your interest and that of your readers. ‘What does the taxman know about you, your finances and your lifestyle? HMRC's impressive new software trawls billions of items of data from dozens of sources in its hunt for underpaid tax – and it's about to have access to even more information, which can be shared with 60 other countries...’.

Un abrazo,  Charles 

...

Finally:

Lole y Manuel: Bulerías de la Luna on YouTube here.

 

Business over Tapas 15 June 2017 Nº 213

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

For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com

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