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Editorial:

We give a rest to the Brexit stories this week – first because there aren’t any to be found which have a Spanish flavour, and secondly to relieve the few of our readers resident in Spain who say they are in favour of the departure of the UK from the European Union. How right or wrong they will be shown to be will become evident within the next few months...

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Housing:

Only around 22% of Spaniards choose to rent over owning a home (the average in the Euro-zone is 33%). However, rental prices are rising steeply – particularly in those cities and resorts where AirBnb or Homeaway are popular, with a preference for short-term rentals. The subject is considered at El Diario here.

The BOE (Official State Bulletin) has published a pardon for José Manuel Magdaleno Hernández, a real estate developer who swindled several families, asking them for advances to buy homes on housing estates that he knew he would never build. He was condemned in 2012 by the Provincial Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife to three years and six months in prison, to return the money cheated and to pay damages to his victims, in addition to special disqualification during the time of the condemnation for promotional activities and real estate construction. Thanks to this pardon following an appeal, the sentence is reduced to two years (meaning he is on probation, but free) and Magdaleno may already return to his business again. Nevertheless, he must still pay for the fraud (69,500 euros), the damages and the penalties imposed...’. The company promotion in 1999 was offered by Archipiélago de Viviendas SA. The pardon, says El BOE Nuestro de Nuestra Día, is one of 27 absolutions issued by the Government of Mariano Rajoy. No details as to ‘why’ are available.

A useful article from Mark Stücklin at Spanish Property Insight on the floor clauses: ‘Boomtime Mortgage borrowers could get thousands back as European Court of Justice opens floodgates to claims against banks for abusive mortgage clauses’.

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Tourism:

The overnight stays in non-hotel accommodations (apartments, campsites, rural tourism accommodation and hostels) exceeded 5.6 million in November, which is 5.7% more than the same month of the previous year, according to provisional data published by The National Institute of Statistics (INE). In November, overnight stays of residents increased by 4.7% and those of non-residents grew by 6.1%. The average stay was 5.6 nights per traveller...’. Reported by Agent Travel here.

Poor Murcia – it may have air connections to several European cities - Dublín, Eindhoven, Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester, Luton and Stansted, but there are no flights (from January 9th) to any Spanish city. Well, there’s the nearby Alicante airport... Story here.

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Seniors

From Europa Press (September 2016): ‘94% of senior citizens aged 65 and over who live in Spain opted for a holiday destination within the national territory in 2014, placing them at the top of countries whose residents prefer domestic destinations in the country. For the rest of the EU, the average is just 66%, according to a Eurostat study on tourism for the elderly...’. The study shows that 20% of all hotel beds taken in 2014 were with the over-65s.

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Finance:

Could we be nearing the end of the power companies’ special charge based on the potential usage: the ‘potencia contratada’? The opposition parties are stirring and appear to be planning for a showdown with the minority PP Government. El Confidencial reports here.

But, one way or another, we won’t escape fresh tax increases. Gestha, the union over at the Hacienda, says that there will be hikes in 2017. Story at El Boletín here.

Starting a business in Spain: The Olive Press has some advice on this tricky subject. The article begins: ‘Setting up a business in a foreign country can feel like jumping out of an aeroplane. There’s no two ways about it, it is a brave decision to set up overseas and probably one of the most daunting tasks anyone can undertake. But just like jumping out of an aeroplane it can be thrilling, and there are several safety nets that can be put in place to ensure a smooth ride...’.

Unemployment fell in December by 86,849 people, although only 68,531 starting paying social security, reports La Nueva Tribuna here. However, 93% of jobs created last month were temporary says the CCOO union. El Mundo reports the figures with its headline ‘Unemployment fell in 2016 by the largest drop in recorded history’. The annual figures for the fall in unemployment are nevertheless good news for the Government (which was, as we recall, in absentia during most of the period) with 390,534 people, or 9.54%..

Hacienda minister Montoro thinks that avoiding paying your taxes is as bad as committing genocide, says a professor in financial law at the University in Madrid in an interview reproduced at Fiscalblog here discussing the subject of foreign possessions and the Modelo 720. He says: ‘...This obligation was born as a result of the fiscal amnesty introduced in 2012. The idea of the minister Montoro then was to allow all taxpayers with money held abroad to come clean with the amnesty...’.

State pensions rise by just 0.25% and minimum wage by 8% to €707 a month. Spain’s government has agreed to increase retirement pensions by 0.25% - the legal minimum – and the minimum wage by 8% from its current €655.20 a month for a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job to €707.70 a month. President Mariano Rajoy, of the right-wing PP party, says the minimum wage hike is 'the greatest in 30 years' and is 'thanks to the country's improved economy...'. From Think Spain.

Another disgusto for the Government (and the Taxpayer): the company which is building the new underground AVE route into Valladolid has gone into receivership, owing some 400 million euros.

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Politics:

Now we have a (more or less) stable Government, how are Spain’s four parties going along? From El País in English comes a breakdown: ‘After a political stalemate that lasted nearly a year, the vote that saw Mariano Rajoy reinstated as prime minister put an end to the upheaval – but now that the dust has settled, the scenario that emerges suggests there is still a lot of work ahead for Spain’s political parties. After two general elections and months of fruitless talks aimed at building governing coalitions, one political house lies in ruins, two more have just barely been built, and a fourth appears untouched from the outside, yet urgently needs to improve its foundations and internal structure...’.

Close associates of Pedro Sánchez, the erstwhile leader of the PSOE, say that he intends to run for leadership of the party again when the congress is finally given a date by the caretakers. Story at El Español here. Meanwhile, just down from the PSOE headquarters in the Calle Ferraz in Madrid, supporters of Sánchez have rented a new office: the window says ‘Recuperate the PSOE – let no one decide for you’. Picture and report at El Huff Post here. A report in Ideal says that the 39th Congress of the PSOE could be as late as July (to favour the other main favourite, Susana Díaz).

Suddenly, Franco’s victory arch in Madrid is in the spotlight. We can’t tear it down because it’s protected as a monument, but it’s a reminder of the terrible years of the Civil War and its aftermath. What to do? El País in English discusses the situation here.

A long-time inquiry into the crash of a chartered plane in Turkey in 2003 with the death of 75 people including 62 Spanish military personnel (Wiki) has finally found a fresh victim – the Minister of Defence from the time, Federico Trillo, who always stalwartly denied any responsibility in the tragedy. Now the Spanish ambassador to St James’ Court in London, Trillo is to be relieved of his post by the Government following a fresh inquiry into the tragedy, but without attaching any blame to the politician. El País explains here. The families of the dead service-people are not entirely happy with this elegant solution... A hostile article reproduced at El Ventano is called ‘Federico Trillo: the Anatomy of a Rat’.

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Corruption:

Spain’s corruption stakes are led by the Valencian Community, says El Levante. Ex-politicians like Alfonso Rus, Alfonso Grau, Carlos Fabra and Consuelo Císcar, while Rita Barberá escaped the inquiries with her recent death in Madrid on November 23rd.

The long-time president of Spanish Guinea (now Equatorial Guinea) has a son (and vice-president of the country) called Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue. Young Theodore (‘Teodorín’) has been stashing enormous amounts of money in foreign parts, according to a report from the French justice system picked up by El Diario here. We read of Bugattis, a home in Malibu, a 36 million euro private jet, untold millions held in Swiss banks and a long list of other extravagances bled from his father’s impoverished country in central-west Africa. A house in Paris, worth an estimated 190 million euros and a 76 metre long yacht have now been confiscated by the French tax authorities.

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Catalonia:

The largest political worry for Mariano Rajoy in 2017 must be the Catalonian Question. In Barcelona, the regional president, Carles Puigdemont, has promised a ‘legal and binding’ referendum on independence. "It is not possible to hold a referendum that will do away with national sovereignty and the equality of Spaniards," Spanish PM Rajoy says of the plans.

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Courts

Some corruption cases in the Balearics to arrive in the courts in 2017, listed here.

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Various:

Great to see two Britons in Spain receive recognition the New Years Honours list: Journalist Liz Parry, who has been awarded a BEM for her services to UK nationals living in Andalucía and Roger Cooke who has been awarded an MBE for his services to British businesses in Spain and Anglo-Spanish trade and investment. Congratulations to both!’. From Facebook Brits in Spain (British embassy).

The Local lists Spain’s national and regional public holidays for 2017: yes, there are plenty of them. Indeed, with saint’s days, local festivals, long weekends and puentes added to the mix, we should all manage nicely.

A gloomy video of thousands of dead molluscs filmed last week on a filthy beach at the Mar Menor (Murcia).

Top 10 Olive Press campaigns. Launched in 2006, The Olive Press is Andalucía’s only English-language campaigning newspaper. Their best campaigns are remembered here.

From a few years back, The Guardian wrote about Spain’s painted pigeons here. They remain popular today.

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See Spain:

With wondrous photographs, El País brings us ‘The most beautiful towns of Spain’.

All you ever wanted to know about Gibraltar (Spanish edition). Interesting stuff. Here’s a video of Gib-Spanish and English spoken (‘llanito’).

The New York Times lists two Spanish destinations of merit in an article called ‘52 Places to Go in 2017’ here. These are Madrid and Antequera (Málaga).

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Letters

Wandering round the web after clicking on one of your links in the BoT last week, I came across info on the recent Discovery-Max TV production of 'España Dividida', the vast 3-part Spanish Civil War documentary advised by UK historian Antony Beevor and using miles of b&w film footage from the Filmoteca Española national archive in Madrid, all laboriously colourised using a special British digital scanner unit brought in to Madrid from London. The doc was aired in 3 hour-long parts on the sat channel DMAX only a month or so ago. It’s now available, en castellano, on YouTube here.

Un abrazo, Alan.

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Finally:

Remedios Silva Pisa belts out ‘Nací en Álamo’ on YouTube here.

 

Business Over Tapas 5 January 2017 Nº 190

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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