Business Over Tapas (17th October, 14)
By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner - For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: [email protected]
***Now with Facebook Page (Like!)*** Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access.
Who buys homes? There are two main types (broadly speaking): Spaniards who will be looking to obtain apartments in the cities and foreigners who wish to buy a home in a resort or in the countryside. The situations are very different, and many articles on 'the number of homes bought', or 'the amount paid' or even 'the percentage of mortgages conceded' will ignore these two very different categories. Perhaps the newspapers who print these stories remain unaware of the problems associated with foreign buyers: 'illegal' homes, land grab, the loss of water of electricity rights following court orders, planning disputes and seizures.
The Superior Court of Andalucía has declared some 650 homes in Cuevas del Almanzora (Almería) to be illegal, leaving their status, as Ideal reports, in 'limbo'.
'The number of Spanish home sales inscribed in the property register in August fell by 1% compared to the same time last year, according to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE). It was also the lowest level of sales in August since the crisis began, and 18 percent down on July. The red line in the chart above shows how recorded sales dipped in August after several months on the up. The chart also illustrates how sales usually dip in August, but never to such a low. So on balance, a month of ugly figures...'. Is the 'housing recovery' over before it even started? Found at Mark Stüklin's Spanish Property Insight.
'The construction mess which dominates the Spanish coast has its days numbered. The Council of Ministers has approved a paper called the General Coastal Regulation Act which will address the unacceptable situation of some 40,000 occupations on the maritime public domain. "This regulation will put an end to the huge disorder that can be found along the Spanish coast", says the Secretary of State for the Environment, Federico Ramos. The new rule will expand and apply the Modification of the Coast Act (the ley de costas), which was passed by the Government in May last year...'. From El Mundo. The rules will prohibit fresh construction or extensions on buildings within the coastal strip in a law which will inevitably be known as the Anti-Algarrobico Rule. Occupation on the coastal land, says El País, will be allowed for a newly extended period, but with proper taxation, while impediments to property inheritance and sales will be eased... In all, there are some 40,000 homes, hotels, beach-bars and shops on the 'public' Maritime Strip.
An article pointing out the zeal of the hotel-lobby to stop alternative forms of tourism is the subject of an article by Kevin brass in Mark Stüklin's Spanish Property Insight. It begins: 'Judging by recent media coverage, short-term apartment rentals throughout Spain are responsible for everything from hordes of drunken partiers roaming neighbourhoods to threats against the safety of thousands of naive tourists. Don’t believe the hype. The current crusade against home-owners renting to tourists has little to do with community complaints or concern for the well-being of tourists. That’s all a smokescreen. This new movement to restrict home-owners from renting their apartments is all about one thing – money. And while that may sound obvious, it is getting lost in the mounting hysteria....'. Well, we knew that already!
Comments from Maura Hillen (AUAN) after meetings with the AUAN and the SOHA together with representatives from the three main parties in the Junta de Andalucía, including the Councillor for the Environment and Territorial Planning, María Jesús Serrano:
‘We thanked the Minister and the three political parties for giving us the opportunity to speak about the current state of affairs. First of all we wanted to emphasise that this legislative change appears to be positive if it is carried out in the manner described in the media. We think that it may help many people and could be an important step. We have asked the political parties, and publicly ask society as a whole, to support this change. We also appeal to the environmentalists, whom we hope to meet soon and who deserve our respect. Indeed, we dare to say that this change could be good for the environment. Currently these houses are in a legal limbo and if they could be given the status of AFO, their residual wastes could be managed more effectively. We are talking of a lot of houses’.
Gerardo Vazquez, legal advisor to AUAN, and SOHA on this occasion, who attended the meetings in the Andalusian Parliament added, ‘These are exciting times. It seems good to me that the voice of the people is heard and it is very good that those in charge try to resolve the real problems of the people. Clearly efforts are being made to begin to resolve all this, and it must stay on course’.
Health tourism? 'The number of medical tourists coming to Spain is expected to double in the next five years. A new public-private partnership 'SpainCares' has been proposed to boost the segment and to achieve 200,000 travellers seeking medical care in the country in 2019. According to estimates from the president of the Spanish Tourism Cluster of Health, Íñigo Valcaneras, cooperation with the Ministry of Industry in this area could place Spain among the top three medical tourism countries in the world, shortening the distance that separates it from countries like the United States, Morocco and the Czech Republic...'. The story comes from Tourism Review.
Spanish exports fell by 5.2% in August compared to a year ago, to 16,300 million euros, according to the Ministry of Economy and reported in El País.
'Spain, a country with a 25% unemployment rate, public debt levels of nearly 100% of GDP and no alternative to construction as an engine of growth, has managed to become the only European economy with improved prospects for 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF Annual Assembly kicked off in Washington on Tuesday with mostly bad news: the global economy will grow by 3.8% next year, down from its July forecast of 4%. But Spain’s economy will grow 1.3% this year and 1.7% in 2015, representing a gain of one tenth of a percentage point from July forecasts in both cases...'. The story (written before the Ebola Crisis) is from El País in English.
The IMF says that Spain is the second highest debt-nation in the world after the USA.
'There are now 465,000 US dollar millionaires in Spain, 24 per cent more than a year ago, a financial services giant Credit Suisse reveals in a new report which highlights the unequal impact of the country's crisis. The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2014 shows that the number of people in Spain with a net worth of over $1 million (approximately €740,000) was up 89,000 in the first six months of 2014, compared with the same period last year...'. From The Local.
Multinationals will now no longer be given favourable tax status by locating their main base of operation in Ireland. Spain has suffered as the result of cross-billing with some major retailers (Apple being a well-commented example) and others in this country.
Banking secrecy will disappear from the EU by 2017, according to an agreement signed by all 28 members of the European Union this week. Thus, automatic and obligatory exchange of information for tax and other purposes will become the norm. Luxembourg and Austria were the last two countries to hold out. '...The Spanish Minister of Economy, Luis de Guindos, pointed out that the agreement has been possible thanks to the joint initiative against banking secrecy launched in April of last year by Spain, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Poland'. (Cinco Días)
Links to Spanish daily newspapers on 'Google News España' will disappear, says the company, thanks to the so-called 'Google Tax', the part of the 'Ley de Propiedad Intelectual' where Internet aggregators of news in Spain will be expected to pay a special canon to the association of daily newspapers, the AEDE, which was passed in the Senate Wednesday. Traffic to Spanish sites will fall from between 10 to 30%, says the company. The law will come into force from January. Fines, by the way, will be up to 600,000€!
The main witness against Elpidio Silva (the judge who briefly jailed the disgraced Caja Madrid banker Miguel Blesa twice) was a woman who was paid 4,000 euros by the Court and who apparently accused the judge of, uh, practicing 'witchcraft'.
'The Caja Madrid credit card scandal has turned a former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief into the target of an investigation that could get him expelled from his party.
One of those senior politicians and businessmen with a Caja Madrid 'black credit card' (worth up to 60,000 euros a year, free) and a place on the Board, is the vice-chairman of the CEOE Employer's Association, Arturo Fernández. After saying that he wouldn't be resigning his position despite being 'angry with himself, and that the situation is execrable and a monstrosity', he has now changed his tune and thrown in the towel. He remains, however, chairman of the CEIM, the Madrid employers' association, with the support of the majority of its members. The story at El Mundo here. Arturo Fernández also owns a major hotel in Mojácar which has been left closed for several years. The Junta de Andalucía is meanwhile asking for a credit to repair the hotel for 320,000€ to be returned to them.
By Thursday morning, several of the 'Black Card' players had been called to declare in front of the judge of the National Audience Fernando Andreu. These are Rodrigo Rato and bankers Miguel Blesa and Ildefonso Sánchez Barcoj.
The director of the right-wing daily La Razón said in a televised debate that he was appalled at the scandal of the 'Black Cards' and that they were spent on wine, women and song. More specifically he was sure that 'Algunos lo dedicaron a putas'...
Now there is to be a non-binding 'public consultation' (with video). 'The Catalan referendum on self-rule will not be held as such, regional premier Artur Mas announced on Tuesday. Mas, of the moderate nationalist bloc CiU, told his political allies that the project lacks sufficient legal guarantees to be significant, and instead proposed organizing another form of participatory process to let citizens express their views on independence for the north-eastern Spanish region...'. From El País in English. 'A spokesperson for Spain's ruling Popular Party has described the Catalan government's new plans for a "participatory" vote on independence as "nonsense" and "legal fraud", while the party's regional leader dismissed the poll as a "big survey"...'. From The Reader.
'The ('relegated') Ministress of Health has defended herself and her Department against accusations of negligence and incompetence around the treatment of Ebola patients. "We did nothing wrong", she said. "We complied with all the protocols. It's just that the protocols were inadequate". I suspect the average 4 year old could find fault with this logic'. Found at Colin Davies' Thoughts From Galicia (a useful and entertaining daily blog).
'Spain's health minister Ana Mato has been ‘demoted’ as a result of allowing Ebola to reach Europe. The establishment of a special Ebola committee to deal with the situation – headed by Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria – will see Mato playing a less public role. “This is a flexible council and we will be able to bring in more people, more experts,” said Saenz de Santamaria … Protest groups across Spain have been demanding the resignation of Ana Mato over her handling of the Ebola situation in Madrid'. Found at The Olive Press. Anywhere else, of course, and she would have been fired...
A pro-abortion group called 'Hazte Oir' has started a campaign against supporting the Partido Popular in the next elections. The new Minister for Justice, Rafael Català, says that the reform is no longer 'a hot potato'. A small reform in the rules, regarding parental consent for 16 and 17 year-olds, is now going through Parliament.
Podemos is working well with the Internet. An article in The New Yorker notes that, while '...more than half of the voters of the two major parties in Spain do not have e-mail accounts...', the 'Occupy'-inspired political party began, a year ago, with a 'sub-reddit' page on the popular Reddit site to organise and find supporters, with startling success. There is nevertheless some major political disagreement reported among the senior members of Podemos on how to move the party forward.
Unlike the BBC, for example, the RTVE can be considered partisan towards the government of the day. At least, it is now. 1,500 journalists and other professionals of the Spanish broadcaster have recently signed a letter criticising the State-owned company of 'la utilización partidista y progubernamental' of the news services.
The latest survey in intention of vote gives the PP 32.6% (against the 2011 election results of 45.2%), the PSOE 25.4% (29.2%) while the new Podemos holds 17.1%. Graphic here.
News like the Junta's shortfall on spending in Almería this year (less than 28% of this year's budget for the province has so far been expedited) merely adds to that province's lack of enthusiasm for its membership in the autonomous region of Andalucía.
The Town Hall of Seville says it is increasing fines towards those who must search around in dustbins for food. Fines will normally be for 750€. Hard, perhaps, to pay...
Cádiz is apparently in the sights of the Spanish Government (here) for possible fracking. What is 'fracking'? It's short for 'hydraulic fracturing' which is 'the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the well-bore, from where it can be extracted. 'Fracking' has resulted in many oil and gas wells attaining a state of economic viability, due to the level of extraction that can be reached' (from Investopedia). The problems associated with 'fracking' are apparently legion. See here. The famous 'tap-water on fire' video here. The 'Ban Fracking and shale gas in Europe before it's too late!' video here. An article regarding demonstrations in Madrid and across Europe against fracking and a proposed agreement of free commerce between the EU and USA known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership here noting the 'European Day of Action'.
Another sign of a United Europe (when it suits governments), is a new trans-border system of collecting motor fines.
'Speculation is rife that Chinese Property magnate Wang Jianlin, the Chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, is eyeing up buying a controlling stake in a leading Spanish football club, Atletico Madrid...'. From the Chinese site CRI English.
A video from a local party, Mojacar Positiva se Mueve, in English, on how to register on the padrón, and – for residents – why you should.
An initiative to keep live Flamenco and its clubs ('peñas') - which are treated as discotheques for tax purposes, placing the 350 registered clubs in Andalucía at risk. See the story and an interesting video 'sin las peñas' here.
Here's a strange job – a bullfight veterinarian. In Logroño, the VIII Worldwide Vets for Bullfights Congress with some 400 participants starts today, Thursday, through Saturday.
Spanish is the favourite foreign language for students in London these days, overtaking French...
A very jolly Swede. Video.
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