Business over Tapas September 21 2017 Nº 225

21 Septiembre 2017 140 votos

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Editorial:

 

 

 

Few people enjoy flying these days, with no room for your legs, a small and sticky child in the seat next to you and a talkative mother making up the row. Behind, perhaps you will be rewarded with a loud collection of still-merry drunks and in front, inevitably somebody who has already put their seat back that full three inches before the plane has even taken off.

 

Flying seems to be an inconvenience that one must endure to top and tail one’s holiday, or visit, or business. At least (if nothing goes wrong at the airport) it has the virtue of being both quick and of course safe.

 

 

Of all of the carriers, Ryanair seems to be a particularly uncomfortable choice to experience.

 

No doubt it’s a fiver cheaper, but one must queue in an inelegant shuffle, with hand luggage only as the charges begin to mount if there’s a suitcase, sit in the flying equivalent of a London underground train... and one now hears of couples being split up by the staff, and carry-on luggage being reduced to a hand-bag. There’s a good hatchet-job on the airline at El Confidencial, including a claim that ‘to increase the sale of on-board drinks, the pilot is sometimes encouraged to create ‘turbulence’’.

 

But well done the CEO Michael O’Leary, who has made himself not only very rich but, as we have seen recently, also highly unpopular.

 

Ryanair, for a spurious and improbable reason (the staff hadn’t had their hols this year?) has just stopped some two thousand flights across Europe between now and the end of October, putting severe impositions on a considerable number of customers. The company has a full list of affected flights here. The website says laconically ‘Up to 50 flights a day (less than 2% of flights) have been cancelled for the next six weeks’.

 

Many of these are connections to Spain. Barcelona and Madrid being the most affected airports.

 

From the Facua website comes ‘FACUA asks AESA (State Agency for Air Security) to sanction Ryanair for announcing mass cancellations’. The consumer organisation is looking for full compensation for travellers. Ryanair says it has twenty million euros earmarked for passenger compensation. This apparently works out at ‘50€ per passenger’.

 

It appears that the real reason for all this terrible publicity, at least partly, is a sudden haemorrhage of 140 pilots to another discount airline: Norwegian Air.

 

For the passengers concerned, for their families, their hotels, their all-too-brief holiday, their business appointments and their bookings, this really quite ridiculous situation is unacceptable.

 

 

 

...

 

Housing:

 

 

 

Spain’s construction sector rises from the ashes’ – Headline from The Financial Times here. A quote: ‘...“Residential construction activity in Spain is finally back,” says Adolfo Ramirez-Escudero, chief executive of the Spanish arm of real estate service firm CBRE. “The demand is there and companies are building again.” ... This comes as the wider Spanish property market seems to have turned a corner. Housing prices fell 35.2 per cent from 2007 to 2015, according to property site Idealista, but are up 3 per cent this year and 2 per cent last year. Analysts say this is set to continue as Spain’s economy continues to grow at about 3 per cent a year — one of the strongest in the eurozone...’.

 

 

 

The European Investment Bank to finance construction of 524 energy efficient rented social housing units in Navarra with a EUR 40 million loan under Juncker Plan’. The press release is here.

 

 

 

Why rent an apartment, when you can share? A single room can go for around 320 euros a month (national average). El Mundo explores here.

 

 

 

From the American Educate Inspire Change comes ‘You Can Buy an Entire Village in Spain for less than the Price of a Single Home in the U.S’. The article has some nice pictures.

 

 

 

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Tourism:

 

 

 

El País considers the municipalities across Spain with the most ‘tourist lets’. Barcelona leads the pack, of course (with 22,733 that we know about), but, in ratio to the local population, the winner is Pollença, Mallorca, with one apartment for every eight residents, followed by Tarifa in Cádiz with one for every eleven!

 

 

 

The Senate has ruled that it is an offence to practice ‘turismofobia’, so you should go out right now and Hug a Tourist! The dislike of tourists is linked, says the director of the NH Hotel Group, to the large number of tourist apartments (which, incidentally, compete with the hotels).

 

 

 

Tourists go Home? Maybe they have a point…’. Opinion piece in The Olive Press here. Our own opinion – if you only check with the hotels and souvenir shops, then it’s the case of ‘One Hundred Tourists equal One Resident’ rather than the other way around...

 

 

 

The ‘Alliance of Touristic Municipalities de Sol y Playa’ (Arona, Adeje, Benidorm, Calviá, Lloret de Mar, Salou, San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Torremolinos), met recently in Torremolinos to discuss their situation, with some seasonal issues like, for example, a floating population of perhaps three or four times the local count. They are looking for extra policing, extra government finance and – of course – a better reputation for sun and seaside resorts. The story here at Hosteltur.

 

 

 

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Finance:

 

 

 

A Paper from the El Cano Royal Institute: ‘The conundrum of Spain’s recovering economy and stubbornly high unemployment. The economy has recovered from a deep crisis and is growing at more than 3% for the third year running, but the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 17.2%, though well down on the peak of 27.1% in 2013’.

 

 

 

About 12% of Spain's GDP is stashed in offshore accounts says El Boletín here. An excerpt: '...Together with the United Kingdom and France, Spain is one of the three European countries where capital-flight causes the greatest inequality. These are three states in which between 30% and 40% of the wealthiest fortunes (0.01% of the population) remain hidden in tax havens...'.

 

 

 

Over the past four years, 58,000 Spaniards have become ‘rich’ (they own over a million euros in heritage between their home and their investments). At the same time, says Público, 1,400,000 Spaniards have joined the ‘poor’ (with an income of under 6,000€ per annum). There are now 5.4 million ‘pobres’ in Spain. The news-site notes that the top 0.4% of the population (188,680 persons) control just under 54% of the GDP.

 

 

 

From La Marea: ‘The Bank of Spain has published this week its annual report in which it estimates the cost of public aid to banks. This document, with data corresponding to 31 December 2016, raises the capital aid granted by the FROB (State agency) to 54,353 million euros, of which only 3,873 million euros have been recovered, which is 7.1%. To put this in perspective, between 2010 and 2015, 78,000 million has been cut in education, health, housing, unemployment, culture and research...’ As the journalist says, ‘they didn’t rescue the banks; they rescued the owners of the banks’.

 

 

 

Also from La Marea, ‘The Ministry of Defence has gone 1,100 million euros over budget this year. The 2017 budget was 2,000 million higher than 2016, but even so... In total, Defence spending for this year will approach 9,000 million euros.

 

 

 

El Español looks as the Mercadona success story. Seven out of ten households across Spain will shop there at least once a month. Mercadona now controls over 24% of the sector.

 

 

 

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Politics:

 

 

 

From Europa Press: ‘Rajoy guarantees that there won’t be a referendum. ‘They are going to force us to go to a place where we would rather not be’, he says’. More on the Catalonia crisis below.

 

 

 

The latest opinion poll on vote intention appear to show change, says El Diario, with a 10% swing away from both the PP and Unidos Podemos towards the PSOE and Ciudadanos.

 

 

 

Pedro Sánchez from the PSOE is looking at breaking a PSOE standard and going into coalitions with Unidos Podemos in certain case-by-case municipal and other elections. More at El Diario here.

 

 

 

Finally (say many Andalusians), Susana Díaz has relaxed the ruinously high taxes on inheritance in Andalucía after pressure from Ciudadanos. More at El Español here.

 

 

 

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Corruption:

 

 

 

An ex-councillor from Marbella, on the run for eleven years following an arrest warrant in 2006, has handed himself in to the police in Argentina. El País has the story here.

 

 

 

...

 

Catalonia:

 

 

 

So, how did we get to this point? A video from El Mundo on YouTube explains.

 

 

 

From Bloomberg: ‘Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said Catalan separatists are using “Nazi” tactics to intimidate their opponents before an illegal referendum on independence. “Referendums are a weapon of choice of dictators,” Dastis said in a television interview in New York, observing that General Francisco Franco conducted two referendums in Spain before the country returned to democracy after his death in 1975. “These people actually are taking some Nazi attitudes because they are putting up posters with the faces of mayors who are resisting their call to participate in this charade,” Dastis said...’.

 

 

 

The Minister of Hacienda Cristóbal Montoro has taken control of the Catalonian finances says Economía Digital. ‘...Once the State Bulletin publishes this decree (today, Thursday), any payment made by the Generalitat must have the approval of the Ministry of Finance. The monitoring will be carried out through the banks. The banks may not pay wages to civil servants or invoice suppliers without the prior approval of the central government...’.

 

 

 

What’s the plan from Madrid? The Catalunya Diari (in Catalán) says ‘the National Police are sending armoured vehicles to Catalonia for the referendum on October 1. The BMR-600 is capable of resisting the impact of a missile from a rocket launcher’. Elsewhere, we are told that the better than 4,000 ‘antidisturbios’ riot-police will be housed in three cruise-ships (two berthed in Barcelona, one in Tarragona) hired by the Ministry of the Interior, according to El Confidencial here.

 

 

 

On Wednesday, the arrests began... The Guardia Civil arrested the head of the Catalonian tax agency after a court-ordered search of the Department of Economics and Hacienda of the Generalitat. According to El Independiente, ‘Following the search at the headquarters of Economy and Finance, arrests were made of the Secretary General of the Vice-Presidency, Economy and Finance Department, Josep María Jové, number two of the department headed by Oriol Junqueras, and Lluís Salvadó, Secretary of Finance and responsible for the deployment of the Catalan Tax Agency...’. El Huff Post has more: Another ten arrests were made on site including Pere Aragonés, the Secretary of the Economy. El Huff Post also has: ‘The judicial operation against the 1-O strangles the machinery of the referendum and takes independence to the streets’. Following the arrests, ‘Spain will now begin to hold political prisoners’, says Pablo Iglesias in Parliament. The French Le Monde asksUn coup d’État du gouvernement espagnol en Catalogne?’. From David Jackson: ‘Spain is rushing headlong into its worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War. And if Barcelona has its way, it will cause a crisis across the EU that makes Brexit look like an irrelevance...’.

 

 

 

Mariano Rajoy made a statement on the national TV on Wednesday night: ‘'Stop this radicalism and disobedience,' PM tells Catalan leaders. Rajoy says region must stop ‘escalating’ independence standoff after thousands protest at police raids of government buildings in Barcelona’. From The Guardian here.

 

 

 

 

 

::::::

 

 

 

The Catalan Referendum

 

by Andrew Brociner

 

 

 

 

 

With the Catalan Referendum approaching on 1 October, some comment on the situation can be made.

 

 

 

The central government is increasingly imposing force to prevent the referendum from taking place. This is the worse possible thing that they can do. The use of force is reminiscent of the Franco period, when the Catalan language was banned. Force of this kind only produces the opposite result. After that dictatorship ended, all schools in Catalonia became monolingual, being taught only in Catalan. So, too, is this use of force resulting in more defiance in the region. Protests are already taking place against what some claim is an invasion on their sovereign right. In the last non-binding vote which took place in 2014, only 2.2 million of the potential 5.4 million voters (in a region of 7.5 million people) turned out, and they were mainly the yes voters. It will be interesting to see how many turn out this time and if the recent oppression will tip the scales in their favour. It is unlikely independence gets a majority, however, given the poll data, but the point is that things could move more in that direction as a result of the recent escalation and continue to bear consequences afterwards.

 

 

 

The linguistic situation in Catalonia is a little more diverse than the local politicians try and represent. Beneath the surface, despite the obligatory Catalan language schooling, most households speak Spanish as their mother tongue language, given that many people in the region have parents or grandparents from other parts of Spain, with only 31% having Catalan, and this in a region where there is very little Spanish instruction in schools, which is quite deleterious to anyone growing up under these conditions. If Spanish was imposed before, Catalan is imposed today. It is further hypocritical that some of the Catalan leaders, who champion the importance of Catalan schools for a question of identity, choose to send their own children to private institutions in which Catalan is taught alongside Spanish. Moreover, anyone making this choice needs to have the financial means to do it. It emerges that Catalan politicians try to use Catalonia and Catalan for some of their own political ends.

 

 

 

The drive for independence in Catalonia seems to be correlated with the state of the country's economic prosperity. Since Spain's worsening economic conditions following the construction bust, these independence calls have multiplied. Catalonia contributes more to the country's finances than they receive, and some Catalans resent having to finance other regions, a sentiment which is accentuated when the rest of Spain is not doing so well. But some of this question has more to do with wanting to decide on the ways these finances should be spent, for instance, following the central government-imposed curbs on what Catalans consider key ministries. Catalonia is a rich and prosperous region with high productivity. They could conceivably go it alone. The same cannot be said of Spain without Catalonia. What would happen to Spain's debt situation if it suddenly had 20% of its GDP cut off, which is what Catalonia contributes? Any sovereign debt issued by the Spanish government becomes the sole responsibility of that government after secession and Spain would be in a catastrophic financial situation. Furthermore, who would finance some of the other regions? This is why the central government is doing whatever it can to avoid this outcome, using the constitution to claim the vote is illegal, sending in the Guardia Civil to raid ministries and places where ballots and fliers have to be hidden, and threatening the region with less autonomy. And while it is true that Spain and Catalonia might be better off together when the economic situation is going well, this has not been the case at all after the construction boom went bust.

 

 

 

The present means deployed by the central government is not conducive to a unified and harmonious national identity, to say the least, and is furthermore counterproductive. There are other overtures the government could have employed, showing respect for a region which is run more efficiently and is far better off than the other regions of the parent country. This, of course, would imply having someone leading who is of a different calibre.

 

 

 

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Courts:

 

 

 

The Navarra court pursuing the case of the 18 year old Madrid girl raped by five men in an attack during the San Fermines in Pamplona last year have ruled that the unfortunate victim may not declare by video-conference. The case begins on November 13th.

 

 

 

A court in Barcelona is pursuing the case of the head of an ONG who failed to send monies collected by his team to its destination – a refugee camp in Tinduf – the Sahara Territories.

 

 

 

Digital Sevilla writes of the remarkable fire that burned out four court-rooms in Valencia last week. Why no one is reporting this, they ask. The alarms failed to go off and a large amount of archives were destroyed. What papers were lost, they wonder – perhaps some to do with political investigations... ?

 

 

 

Harsh words from La Réplica: ‘Does anyone still believe in Spanish justice? We present the ten most disgraceful cases’. The preamble says: ‘...It is a highly politicized body following the shameful bipartisan pact of the “PPSOE”, and is controlled by the most rotten sector of the legal society. Speedy as the Roadrunner when necessary (it takes just one day to ban a referendum), slow as a snail on other occasions (as with the condemnation of Rodrigo Rato), forceful or permissive in a whimsical way, Spanish justice almost exclusively pardons the corrupt aristocracy yet becomes the scourge of the lower classes. To the Establishment, the prosecutor is an ally. For the people, he’s a terror...’.

 

 

 

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Brexit:

 

 

 

An article in El Mundo potentially adds fuel to the fire as it criticises the treatment of Europeans in the UK: ‘Discrimination in jobs, housing, leisure...’.

 

 

 

Headline from The Guardian: ‘British expats face 'cliff edge' in pensions and insurance after Brexit. Minister calls for urgent action to ensure British pensioners in EU do not find payments stopped after Brexit’. (The photograph helpfully shows two old girls in Benalmadena, sat in a bar with a pack of smokes and a brandy stood in front of them).

 

 

 

...

 

Media:

 

 

 

Why the printed newspapers are all going bust. An analysis at Media-tics here.

 

 

 

The offices of the .cat registry were raided by Spanish police Wednesday. The Guardia Civil officers entered the .cat registry’s offices around 9am local time this morning and have seized all computers in the domain registry’s offices in downtown Barcelona. The move comes a couple of days after a Spanish court ordered the domain registry to take down all .cat domain names being used by the upcoming Catalan referendum...’. Item found at Internet News here.

 

 

 

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Various:

 

 

 

From Tiempo comes a report on the current extreme drought. ‘...This summer has further accentuated the drought that is suffering the Iberian Peninsula. A lack of rainfall and increasing water consumption have exacerbated the decline in water reserves. The Spanish reservoirs are at 41% of their total capacity. They currently hold 23,000 cubic hectometres (hm3), which is 8,000 hm3 less than they have been accumulating on average during the last decade (55%)...’.

 

 

 

Passing the vehicle inspection, the ITV, just became a tiny bit more complicated. One must now bring along a copy of the vehicle’s insurance.

 

 

 

A woman is having trouble proving she is not dead. Apparently jumping up and down in front of the judge is not enough. She is now asking for the niche in her name in the local cemetery of Alcalá de Guadaíra (Seville) to be opened to prove her point. Juana Escudero Lezcano denies that she died six years ago. Such is life and death for some. The story is at 20 Minutos here.

 

 

 

Believe it or not but ‘Salmorjeo from Cordoba’ has its own culinary guild which aims to make this traditional recipe become the ambassador of the city, its culture and cuisine, so each year they organise an event to promote this wonderfully versatile dish. For two days, lectures, panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, tastings are conducted in the city in order to help disseminate the authentic salmorejo recipe to the rest of the world...’. An article from Eye on Spain here.

 

 

 

Waiting times for hospital operations can vary across Spain, says Almería Hoy, from an average of 115 days down to Almería’s mere 56 days wait.

 

 

 

Linguistics: ‘Spanish is full of false friends and can sometimes be a minefield. The Local takes a look at some of the worst offenders...’. More at The Local here.

 

 

 

An article called ‘Spain is Dying’ appears in La Opinión de Almería here. The piece comes from lawyer Gerardo Vásquez, who collaborates with the AUAN (and sometimes with Business over Tapas). He says how much he wanted to come to Spain as a young man (Gerardo is British, of immigrant Spanish parents) and how he found it when he came here. And now, how it has changed...

 

 

 

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See Spain:

 

 

 

Welcome to the medieval city of Frías in Burgos – Spain’s smallest city. A nicely made video is at YouTube here.

 

 

 

A few fabulous places to stay in Asturias, collected by The Olive Press here.

 

 

 

Eighty per cent of Almería’s archaeological treasures are at risk, says La Voz de Almería. There are around 1,200 sites across the province, mostly left to rot in peace, although some are destroyed by bulldozers or vandals when no one is looking.

 

 

 

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Letters

 

 

 

I think nobody outside Spanish borders understands the procedures taken by the Spanish government. I mean... it's like if they think that everything is acceptable to fight against the Catalan Independence, even breaking your own laws.

 

They are forbidding everything. The right to meet, to right to speak, the right to vote, the right to rule in your región... everything is forbidden. And when this happens people finally realize that everything is allowed. Disobedience is a must.

 

You know that you cannot impose a rule or a law that you cannot hold. For instance, if I tell my pupils in class that the one who speaks will not go to the playground I have to accomplish it or my credibility will disappear in few days. But if I say that the one who speaks will be expelled from the school nobody will believe me because the response is out of limits and proportions. Well, this is more or less what is happening now to the Spanish government in Catalunya.

 

You do not rule a country or region just because you say it, or because your laws tell you so. You rule because the people of that specific region accept your orders and laws. If the majority of that people don't obey, then you do not rule shit. You can claim in the desert that you are the true and legitimate government, but nobody will listen to you. Well, nowadays the Spanish president says that nobody can go to vote next October the 1st, and between 2.5 and 3 million people will vote (of a total of 4 million voters). 70% of the population of that region is going to disobey, is going to ignore a direct order of the Spanish president. Therefore Spain is not governing yet in Catalunya.

 

The only thing left is the formality of the ruptura, but Independence is already a fact. They can only threaten us, punish us, bully us... for a while. But in the very same moment that they threatened with prison 700 mayors of Catalunya, they lost.

 

So the question is... in or out of the EU? Unfortunately I think we will remain in.

 

Antonio (Thanks David)

 

 

 

Thanks for this Lenox, The bit on consumer rights and OCU was particularly helpful for me (editorial last week). I’d been trying for over three weeks to get MaxColchon to reimburse me for a mattress they did not deliver, despite many promises, which caused much inconvenience because we (including grandkids) had to stay in the house just in case they came. Finally, exasperated, I cancelled the order (on about 21 Aug) and asked them to refund the money. They kept promising to do so but nothing happened until today when I threatened I would ‘denunciar’ them to OCU. Then, hey, within two hours the money was in my bank.

 

So your report was appreciated.

 

Saludos, Mica

 

 

 

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Finally:

 

 

 

Decoding the Past – the Opus Dei Unveiled’. A documentary from The History Channel (of some dubious merit) introduces us to the secretive and powerful group. The 45 minute video is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business over Tapas September 21 2017 Nº 225

 

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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