Business over Tapas November 23 2017 Nº 234

23 Noviembre 2017 155 votos

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Editorial:

It must be horrible to be in prison. The Norwegian ones – where the repentant murderer plays his guitar, cooks his own meals and has a terrace to his room notwithstanding. We should also excise the Dutch ones which are closing down, through a general lack of prisoners to fill them. The American ones – which we have seen often enough on the TV or in films – are more like it: usually with Morgan Freeman or that Tom Cruise fellow banged up for life. Nasty guards, murders and people pumping iron.

 

Spain is a bit different. Firstly, not everyone that might be expected to end up in prison, ends up in prison. Politicians, bankers and those connected to the best families for example. Here, we read of ‘those who steal a ham’; those who write something improper on Facebook or Twitter; and of ‘political prisoners’, which means ‘politicians from either failed parties (the GIL or the PA for instance) or otherwise seditionists from Catalonia’. We see demonstrations concerning Basque prisoners, terrorists and political, being sent to serve time in the other end of the country – to the evident confusion of their families.

Still, ‘if you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime’. Right?

Spanish prisons are in the news this week, firstly – it’s an anecdotal story rising from the ugly subject of rape – a mother has now been allowed to spend her days at home after four years incarceration. She had revenged herself on her daughter’s rapist by dousing him in petrol and setting him alight. Evidently, he died in some discomfort shortly afterwards. A case now going through the court in Pamplona sees five fellows who allegedly raped a girl in the fiestas there this summer. Jail-time? Maybe – one of them has influence.

But, returning to politics. One of the two ‘Jordis’ – Jordi Sànchez, the first to be arrested for treason in the ongoing Catalonia story – was witness this week to a prisoner knifing another during a Mass in his prison. That should take the smile off his face.

From Brussels, where the lively question of what an earth to do with Puigdemont and his fellow ‘ex’-ministers, comes a query about Spanish prisons. Are they alright? Would he be fed properly? The Spanish prison service has obligingly sent a photograph of his future cell back to the Belgians.

As to whether Spain can hold foreign political prisoners (in the improbable event of the Republic of Catalonia being recognised internationally following some change of heart), we will have to joyously return to the safer world of fantasy.

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Housing:

From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight: ‘Foreign demand for Spanish property rises 12% in Q3 despite decline in British and Scandinavian buyers’. Here.

Alicante takes interest in the foreign residents. ‘The Diputación de Alicante has announced that it plans to launch a Provincial Board of Residential and Sustainable Tourism. This body, which has already received the approval of the Finance Commission and which will pass through a plenary session for its approval in the near future, will be responsible for developing policies that favour a positive impact of the sector on the territory...’. The story at El Mundo here.

Two stories from Costa News: ‘The number of residents registered on the padrón in Teulada-Moraira (Alicante) has dropped so much that the town council has lost €730,649 from the government. In the last five years, official residency has dropped by 4,124 inhabitants. The town hall, believes, however, that the number of residents remains virtually the same, and expatriates are reluctant to register.  In a stark warning, he stated that if the figures do not increase, the council will have no choice but to raise taxes’ (here) and ‘Two elderly couples in Zurgena (Almería) have been refused financial assistance with care home fees because unknowingly they were no longer listed on the town register, according to British councillor Jim Simpson. The couples, in their 70s, came to the town hall for help because in each case one of the pair needed round-the-clock care. One suffered from severe dementia and the other had had a fall...’. (here).

TSJ orders the demolition of the Torres Gemelos of Benidorm and the compensation of the 186 owners affected. The Superior Court of Justice of the Region has ordered the Generalitat Valenciana to demolish the two towers of 21 stories built in the coastal area of Benidorm known as Punta Llisera, built by Calpe Buildings and the Valencian developer Andrés Ballester Ríos...’. From Spanish Real Estate here.

Cantoria (Almería) provides basic services to housing in the British colony due to the risk of social exclusion. The ayuntamiento of Cantoria has undertaken as an emergency action the provision of water supply to homes in the British colony that were at risk of social exclusion, following reports presented by the Social Services. This service refers to people of an advanced age who were tricked when they bought illegal dwellings that would supposedly receive water once the urbanization procedures (that never took place) were completed and that ended up with a large part of the previous local PP government team becoming disqualified for ‘urban prevarication’.... Press Release.

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Finance:

Hacienda wants 4% tax on all transactions between private individuals of second-hand goods. In the case of eBay and other organisations, they will apparently have details... A local tax advisor called Cervantes Alarcón has more on this in English here.

Tourism is now worth 11.86% of Spain’s GDP says Nexotur here. It went up from the figure of 11.5% recorded in 2016.

From The Corner: ‘A barometer of the opinions of 785 foreign companies was recently published, offering their evaluation of, and the importance they give to the business climate in Spain during 2017, as well as their medium-term outlook. The report was published jointly by ICEX-Invest in Spain, Multinationals for Spain Brand and the International Centre for Competitiveness. It said foreign companies’ evaluation of the business climate has seen a further improvement compared to a year ago, showing that the upward trend begun in 2014 is consolidating...’.

By most measures, sun-blessed Spain is an idyllic place to grow old in. Life expectancy is among the highest in the world, and the national pension fund’s payout ratio (pension as percent of final salary) is the second highest in Europe after Greece. But if current trends are any indication, that may soon be about to change. The country’s Social Security Reserve Fund, which was meant to serve as a nationwide nest egg to guarantee future pension payouts — given Spain’s burgeoning ranks of pensioners — has been bled virtually dry by the government. This started ever so quietly in 2012 when the government began withdrawing cash from the fund. Some of it was used to fill part of the government’s own fiscal gaps while billions more were tapped to cover the Social Security system’s growing deficits. As a result the pension pot has shrunk from over €66 thousand million in 2011 to just €15 thousand million in 2016...’. From Wolf Street here.

In reality, says a contributor to El Confidencial, either pensions or wages have to be sharply reduced. ‘Let us remember that the public pension system is based on a misleading pyramid-shaped promise: "You pay today and tomorrow you will collect from those who are contributing today. The problem, of course, is that tomorrow there may not be enough contributors to pay for my pension. In that case, I will have been bled out in the present to receive very little back in the future. And that seems to be exactly the demographic trend that Spain will follow over the next few decades. The projections of our dependency rate (the number of Spaniards over 65 divided by the number of Spaniards between 15 and 64 years old) are not at all encouraging: if it is currently below 30% (that is, there are more than three people of working age for each retired person), in 2060 it will be between 60% and 70% (there will be only 1.5 people of working age for each retired person)...’.

The growing awareness of pollution and the health and quality of life problems it generates; scandals such as Dieselgate and the doubts caused by traditional engines from the point of view of emissions, add the unequivocal commitment to electric cars or alternative energies from Brussels, and there comes a strong cocktail that points to a radical transformation of the automotive industry in Europe and forces actors to reconfigure their role. But this will not be done without sacrifice or conflict...’. From El Confidencial comes ‘Unions and manufacturers ask the Government to slow down the switch to electric cars’.

From VozPópuli: ‘Spain is creating jobs and reducing unemployment, but some experts warn of the quality of new jobs and question the recovery of the labour market. Today, the Bank of Spain joined the discussion, acknowledging that the labour market situation in Spain is "somewhat less buoyant" than the indicators show...’.

Between now and 2019, the ‘Catalonian Crisis’ could cost Spain 17,000 million euros, says El Independiente here.

The United States on Tuesday imposed import duties on ripe Spanish olives, saying preliminary findings indicated they were subject to unfair subsidies that harmed producers in California. The action is part of President Donald Trump's aggressive defence of US trade interests, with anti-dumping and countervailing duty actions up 61 percent since he took office, according to the Commerce Department...’. From The Local here.

Castile-La Mancha, a land of opportunity for foreign investors’. Article at Marca España here.

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Politics:

Why has Spain failed to prevent its worst and most predictable crisis in decades? Tim Sebastian meets Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis on Conflict Zone this week. Video on YouTube here.

From El Diario: ‘Hacienda has allowed Jaén (PP) to circumvent "exceptionally" the same budgetary rules by which it intervenes in the ayuntamiento of Madrid. A series of Hacienda documents seen by El Diario reveals the double standards applied to local administrations depending on who governs them. Hacienda has allowed the Andalusian city to approve the 2017 budget "for operational reasons", despite not complying with the adjustments requested by the self-same Ministry. Jaén is governed by the PP, the current Secretary of State for Finance was once the mayor who bankrupted the city's accounts and, by coincidence, Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro was born in this province and was a deputy for it’. Mariano Rajoy says in a statement that ‘we treat Madrid and all the other town halls in Spain the same way’. Here.

Banks pardon debts from political parties. More on this here.

Why do so many people continue to vote for the Partido Popular, asks Cuarto Poder here.

The mayor of the small town of Partaloa in Almería, together with another councillor, has been ordered to leave office, and is now accused of manipulating a petition asking for them both to stay. In the event that they finally ‘go’, we are told that they will be replaced by the remaining candidates on their electoral list which means that Partaloa may have a Dutch Mayor and three British councillors.

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Corruption:

According to Transparency International, 91% of Spaniards accept that there is corruption in the Rajoy Administration. A report from El Salto Diario here.

From El País: ‘"There could never be a Barack Obama here." Alan D. Solomont, former US ambassador and president of the Spain-U S Chamber of Commerce, summarized yesterday with a single sentence the detachment that Spanish citizens feel with respect to political parties. This is not a minor problem, according to the speakers of the series Spain 40-40 (a series of talks marking the 40th anniversary of the Spanish Transition, Democracy and Constitution) without training courses open to society's talent, the country will not be able to face the challenges of its future. Parties are seen as the natural habitat of opportunists and the corrupt, of people who want to make careers for their personal gain, while movements are seen as the place of those who want to change the world," opined another speaker, "This has to be reversed," he said. Parties have to return to being the place of those who want to change the world. Democracy is not possible without strengthening political parties...’.

...

Catalonia:

The courts are going to imprison more independentistas’, says El Independiente here.

But wait, The Guardian reports that: ‘Spain is 'ready to discuss' greater fiscal autonomy for Catalonia . The region could be given the power to collect and manage its own taxes in attempt to defuse crisis over independence bid’.

From the El Cano Royal Institute: ‘The ‘combination’ (kombinaciya) is an operation which integrates diverse instruments (cyber warfare, cyber-intelligence, disinformation, propaganda and collaboration with players hostile to the values of liberal democracy) in Russia’s information war in Catalonia during and in the wake of its illegal referendum...’.

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Gibraltar:

Gibraltar is heading for an abrupt exit from the single market without the benefit of any transition deal, according to senior Spanish government sources, who revealed that the British government had failed to offer any proposals on the future of the Rock. The EU shocked Downing Street in April when it effectively backed Spain in the centuries-old territorial dispute. In guidelines outlining their approach to the Brexit negotiations, the 27 member states insisted Gibraltar would be outside any future trade deal with the UK unless an agreement was reached in advance with Madrid over its future status...’. Story found at The Guardian here.

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Courts:

The Prosecutor General for Spain, José Manuel Maza, died unexpectedly while on a visit to Argentina last week. El Mundo was at the funeral.

A judge cancels a Citibank card debt due to the size of the “small print”. A court in Castellón has ruled in favour of the debtor because to read the conditions "it is necessary to use a magnifying glass"’. Story at El Salto Diario here.

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Brexit:

The EU should give Britons citizenship’, says Europa United here. The article begins: ‘Back in the latter part of 2016 Luxembourg MEP Charles Goerens proposed the idea of “Associate citizenship” for British citizens after Brexit. He called for a European associate citizenship after he criticised the British government for not tackling the issue of rights for British citizens living the EU and what their status would be following the departure of Britain from the Union. One year on and despite the fact that Westminster has repeatedly stated that citizens’ rights are at the top of their agenda, we are still nowhere near knowing where citizens stand in the absolute mess that is Brexit. It is now time to look at the motion again...’.

From El País in English: ‘...When Britain walks away, 73 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will go with it. So the question is, what shall we do with those seats, which will be vacant in 2019? There are three options under consideration, and they are not mutually exclusive. We could eliminate these seats totally or partially, for the sake of savings. We could share them out among the remaining 27 member states, so that the number of seats becomes a better reflection of each member’s population size. Or we could also take those seats and create a Europe-wide constituency. Italy, France and Spain support the creation of transnational candidate lists. We are proposing that some of the vacant seats should be used to create a European constituency, taking into account Europe’s political and geographical diversity...’. Well, there’s a thought!

An interesting article from the London School of Economics: ‘Brits in Spain: four broad Brexit narratives’.

Menorca has an article that considers the worries of local Brits regarding Brexit: ‘pensions, health and voting rights...’.

Brexit has left Britain exposed to the sort of mockery and pity we once reserved for other countries’, argues former Minister for Europe Denis Macshane in The New European here.

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Media:

A site called CTXT suggests that the leading Spanish pollster, Metroscopia, is fiddling the results in favour of Ciudadanos.

Omicrono reports that the EU can now block websites without a judicial order.

According to El Diario, The Kremlin paid several leading Spanish media to promote Russian propaganda as recently as 2016. ‘Russia Beyond the Headlines’ was a monthly insert in El País between 2014 and 2016.

The least-trusted medium in Spain, according to a survey revealed in El Despertador, is the far-right OKDiario. An amusing video here shows OKDiario’s director Eduardo Inda proving that Hugo Chávez from Venezuela signed a cheque to Podemos dated 2014 (Chávez died in 2013).

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Various:

Following on from complaints about telephone 902 numbers, Facua has published – and denounced – a list of ten first division football clubs for using the revenue generating numbers says El Independiente here.

A study from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture gives a black mark to Spanish prisons, says Público here. It says that 259 prisoners lodged complaints of receiving mistreatment while in custody in 2016.

Eighteen major Spanish cities now exceed air pollution limits, says the Cadena Ser.

From Eye on Spain: ‘Antibiotic abuse 'kills more Spaniards than car crashes'. Taking antibiotics without prescription causes more deaths per year in Spain than car crashes, according to the European Medications Agency. Residents in Spain consume some of the largest amounts of antibiotics on the continent – some 16% above the European average. Of the 25,000 people who die in Europe every year through antibiotic abuse, one in 10 – or a total of 2,500 – are in Spain...’.

Whatever happened to the Mercheros, the Maragatos, the Vaqueiros, the Xuetes and other peculiar tribes and ethnic groups that once lived in Spain? Europa Press tells the story here.

The Olive Press looks at the threat of Global Warming: ‘Spain to be among the worst affected as scientists reveal world is on track to heat by 3C’.

From Ciencia Explicada comes an appeal: ‘I would like to send you the desperate cry of fellow researchers from the Solar Platform of Almeria (PSA), the world's most important research centre for concentrating solar thermal technologies. In short: having funding from European funds that do not affect the State Budget at all, the Ministry takes hold of the order HAP/1169/2016 of 14 July from the Spanish Government (established to reduce the public deficit) to prevent the acquisition of material by the PSA. They will have to return hundreds of thousands of euros to Europe, without being able to use them, and worse still, pay back with interest! Outrageous...’. An article on this in English at Clean Technica here.

Good old Spiriman gets a write up in El Mundo here. Spiriman is the Granada doctor who is attacking the cuts in the SAS made by the Junta de Andalucía.

Spain’s ugliest city? A long thread on Reddit here.

British woman gains British Empire Medal for her public service. Former social security councillor in Teulada, Sylvia Tatnell was honoured by the British ambassador for encouraging expatriates to integrate. She arrived at Teulada-Moraira 46 years ago with her parents and brother. ‘This was paradise’ she said yesterday. Sylvia Tatnell was not content to be just another British resident. She has actively participated many associations, helping her compatriots and offering legal advice when new arrivals face the complexes of Spanish bureaucracy...’. From Typically Spanish here.

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See Spain:

Nobody ever goes to Adra (Almería). ‘...Adra looks like a place which is worth getting to know, or maybe a great place to hide, as nobody would ever think of looking for you there. It's probably chock-full of museums and interesting relics and buildings, plus a few wanted counterfeiters and smugglers (the murderers prefer Marbella, obviously), but we were there for a beer and a fish-head...’. From Lenox’ Spanish Shilling here.

If you were planning for a tour guide but forgot to book in advance… don’t worry, just follow your feet and Ronda will do the rest. Perched on an inland plateau driven out of the earth like an offering to God, it isn’t hard to see why the historic gem is the gift that keeps on giving. Crammed full of historic buildings, churches and museums, despite what Ernest Hemingway once claimed (that it was a town to merely spend a romantic weekend in bed), there is so much to see and do in Ronda...’. From The Olive Press here.

The southern Spanish town that bought its independence. Arriate split from Ronda in 1661 but remained immersed in a feudal regime for another century’. From El País in English.

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Letters

Lenox’ correspondence with Guy Verhofstadt.

Have I missed something?
Guy Verhofstadt is not part of the EU negotiating team .He has just been intent on baiting and insulting the UK at every opportunity.
A charmless windbag seeking power.
This man, together with Juncker, are responsible for many UK citizens becoming Euro-sceptic.
Do not put too much store on his promises.
The offer made by UK regarding EU residents has been very fair.
Offering those who chose to live in your country the same rights as your own citizens would appear to be a good deal for any normal person.
The main sources of concern for UK expats living in Spain have been pensions and healthcare: both will not change.
Do guard against negativism.
Lorna

You are a man who aims high; your motto must surely be “He who dares wins” Well done Lenox.

John.

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Finally:

Que nadie va a llorar with Manuel Molina. Amazing. Here.

 

Business over Tapas November 23 2017 Nº 234

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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