Business Over Tapas(26th September 14)

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

miércoles 22 de octubre de 2014, 11:21h

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.


It is good to see a moment of sanity over at the Junta de Andalucía, as a proportion of the 'illegal homes' (owned, so often, by foreigners who bought in 'good faith'), are to be become more or less what passes for legal. Nevertheless, the damage has been done and international buyers need to know to be extremely careful when buying a home in Spain.


The Andalucian Parliament, with the opposition of the IU (later, they agreed to support the measure) and the abstention of the PP, approved on Thursday the proposal from the President of Andalucía, Susana Diaz, to modify the Planning Laws of Andalucía (LOUA). The initiative proposes to facilitate the regularisation* of buildings located on 'parcelaciones urbanisticas' – building plots created from larger pieces of land. The 'Ecologistas en Acción' say they are against the move, calling the home-owners 'delinquentes'. Susana Díaz said that the move was 'to answer a situation which affects thousands of families and that the Government could no longer ignore'. More at El Mundo. A second article, in El Confidencial, suggests that a recent meeting between Ms Díaz and the British ambassador Simon Manley had helped win the day. About 25,000 homes will be legalised. El País in English repeats the news-item here and Sur in English here. Finally, the view from The Telegraph 'Glimmer of hope for ex-pats in Spain living in the dark' here.

*'Regularisation': 'Under the terms of the regularisation decree which came into being in 2012, properties that cannot be legalised via an approved town plan can possibly qualify for 'regularisation'. This means that they can apply for their property to be classified as assimilated to the regimen of fuera de ordenación. If the application is accepted (conditions & costs apply) you receive an AFO certificate which is a form of licence to occupy. It can be used to obtain services and to register the property on the land registry. Properties classified as AFO can only be maintained. They can never be altered or extended and cannot be rebuilt if significantly damaged by flooding or fire, for example. HOWEVER, properties that share a parcela of land or are on protected land can expect to have their application rejected because these sort of planning issues are never exempt from prosecution. Your application will also be rejected if the property is already subject to proceedings. Also, if your property was constructed using a building licence issued by your town council, your application may be more complicated. Individual advice is really required'.

My thanks to the AUAN for this explanation.

A clip on La Sexta TV filmed in Alcaucín, Málaga. Meet, amongst others, Philip Smalley from SOHA, property owner Michael Wake '...it's such a good country, but the laws and politicians make it difficult for many people', local councillor Mario Blancke, and a spitting-with-rage ecologist who wants to knock down all the houses and return the hills back to the Stone Age.

'The prosecution intends to ask for the demolition of 98 homes, owned by Britons resident in Albox (Almería) as part of their complaint against two promoters...'. The area is called 'El Romeral-La Aljambra' and the homes were built between 2004 and 2006. Story at Ideal. A comment on Facebook reads: 'Just as sanity was peeping over the horizon...'.

July was a bad month for house-sales, according to Idealista.com which says that, compared with a year ago, both prices and sales were down around 10%.

'After weeks of reports touting slight increases in Spain home prices, two new reports illustrate the Spain property market is still far away from a real recovery.
The latest report from Tinsa, the valuations company, show home prices were down 4.3 per cent in August from July, which is a sharp contrast to recent data suggesting prices were moving up for the first time in six years. The Tinsa statement came just days after the Ministry of Public Works released its own report, which showed “unsubsidized” home prices fell 2.9 per cent. Average prices are at €1,459 a square meter, which is similar to 2004 levels. All the reports use different standards and data – and reflect different periods of time – but, if nothing else, they make it clear that home prices have yet to fall into a solid upward trend, despite the recent positive data...'. From Mark Stücklin's Spanish Property Insight.

From an opinion piece in El País lamenting the move from the Countryside to the Urban sprawl: '...(In Spain it was long considered) better for the Public Purse that all lived in the cities rather than spread across the country in tiny hamlets...'. Here, abandoned villages are common (there are at least 3,000), while in other European countries, where the government provides a fairer share-out of the national resources, forgotten hamlets are much rarer.


International visitors to Spain through August stand at 45.4m according to Frontur (which measures international passage) – an increase of 7.3% over last year. Russian visitors were down by 5% thanks to a devaluation of the Rouble. Britons led the surge with 10.5m visits.

According to the experts in tourism, that's to say 'la patronal hotelera', there are 500,000 'irregular' short-term rental apartments across Spain, since it is a well-known fact that visitors to this great country should be forced to stay in hotels where they will be treated with the respect and understanding that they deserve – and if not, why, there's always Italy.


Spending on the collective madness known as the AVE is being cut back by the Ministry of Public Works with the budget for next year slashed from 29,000 million to just 5,000 million euros. Planned stations will be more modest and work will be concentrated on lines into León, Gijón, Burgos, Murcia and Zamora. Story at El Mundo. The item also appears at Rail Press News with the note that, with the extra 1000kms of high speed rail planned for 2015, Spain will have the second most extensive bullet train system in the World (after China) with 4,000kms of track.

El Mundo has an opinion piece about the correlation between poor education and high unemployment. Our unemployment stands at 24% (versus 7.4% across the OECD) while 45% of Spaniards at a working age (25 to 64) only have basic schooling, against 24% across the OECD. Meanwhile, an international meeting to study youth unemployment, the Peer Review on Youth Guarantee, Helsinki, Finland (here) received delegates from thirteen European countries last week. Spain, despite having the highest youth unemployment across Europe (around 54% of those 15 – 24 seeking work), was not among them.

Spain has a new system of measuring the GDP from today, to include estimated spending on some eclectic activities like prostitution and the consumption of soft drugs – both rather hard to quantify... This will add around 3% to our GDP – 35,000 million euros – giving the Government some room for manoeuvre. Found at Bolsamania.


'Catalonia's regional parliament on Friday passed a law that its leaders say will authorise them to hold a non-binding "consultation" on independence from Spain on November 9.
The law was passed with 106 votes in favour and 28 against. The move – announced a day after Scottish voters rejected independence – is opposed by Spain's central government, which has already said it will challenge the Catalan law in the nation's Constitutional Court...'. From The Local. You see, 'No es un referéndum, es una consulta' and thus, is constitutionally legal. Explanation from El Diario.

Justice Minister Ruiz-Gallardón quits politics after his failed abortion law... El País. His successor is Rafael Catalá, who is known for his support of a 'third way' for Catalonia.

The grand old man of Spanish politics, Julio Anguita, reckons that the leader of the PSOE Pedro Sánchez is 'a product of the marketing department' and that Felipe Gonzalez still decides the policies of the PSOE which include, says the historic ex-leader of the IU, a secret pact with the PP to give Catalonia and Euskadi more autonomy, to tighten up the economy and to put away a few unimportant second-rank corruptos in the main scandals of the times (Noós, ERE de Andalucía, Gürtel, etc). Report at La Información.

Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) has refused to join a televised political debate with Pablo Iglesias from Podemos. Although both of the politicians are partial to TV saturation coverage.

The Vice-president of Spain, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, has asked Constitutional experts, in confidence, to consider whether Spain's General Elections could viably be postponed next year (scheduled for November) and brought back to February of 2016. This apparently in the hope that unemployment would be lower than when Rajoy took over from Zapatero in 2011. Story at Euro Mundo Global. 


The Declaration of Assets Abroad, which has worried resident foreigners (and done wonders for the independent financial advisers who can be found in the foreign language free newspapers here), has discovered a further 20,500 million euros in properties, investments and bank accounts outside Spain according to the Tax Office. Last year, some 134,000 contributors admitted to holding assets abroad, worth 88,000m. This year, almost 32,000 more have joined the exercise. Fines for not declaring are huge.


The Pujol family (Barcelona's leading political/business family) have been found to have been moving some 581 million euros outside of Spain in the past five years, mainly in Switzerland, Andorra and Luxembourg. Thursday's El Mundo has more.


'Changes to the UK's pension rules could have more impact on ex-pats retiring abroad than they expect, but there are still plenty of options available for those looking to spend their retirement overseas.

New rules coming into force next April will prevent those with pensions in unfunded public schemes, such as the military, police, NHS workers and teachers, from transferring their pension overseas. It means that anyone with savings in one of these schemes – known as defined benefit (DB) schemes – will find themselves at the mercy of exchange rates when it comes to how much they will receive from their pension...'. From The Telegraph.

Wind-farms seem popular in Spain – if very ugly. However, research in Mexico suggests that they are harmful to the environment.

A bit late, but the cochineal flies killing off the chumbo, the prickly pear, in Almería (now in the Parque de Cabo de Gata) have reached the attention of the Press (if not the authorities). El Mundo says that some experts think that the prickly pear and some other types of cactus will become extinct in Almería, Murcia and Granada within a decade. Meanwhile, the ecologists say that, since the cactus is not a 'native plant', it might as well disappear. A similar argument for the eradication of the potato and the tomato, for example, hasn't occurred to these ill-informed louts, who hold so much power over the countryside.

A note from a local party (Mojácar Positiva se Mueve): 'We just want to remind you of the importance of signing on to the padrón and Electoral Roll, this should be done before the end of December and remember being on the padrón alone does NOT give you the right to vote in the elections next May 2015. It is a separate application form that should be filled out. Your registry on the padrón is good for two years for non residents and five years for residents (always check just in case you have been excluded, which happens more often than not.)'.

The mistreatment of animals has sometimes been a feature of local fiestas – whether throwing a turkey out of a belfry or pouring pitch onto a bull's horns and then setting them on fire (!). Can the 'do-gooders' stop these awful events? El País in English has an article here on their attempts to do so, noting 'Many festivals involving animal abuse are protected by a 2006 law that allows them to claim they are of “touristic interest”. The law supposedly excludes events involving the mistreatment of animals, but only in the case of communities that applied after 2006...'. As always, bull-fights are exempt.

Ibiza (Behind the Scenes at the Drunken Club Wonderland) – article and videos of the hedonistic lifestyle here. '...But Ibiza is not a museum. Since those days, the place has become big business. Really, really big business. The sweet stench of cold hard cash pervades the entire island, a new opportunity to blow it at every turn. The clubs operate more like Vegas casinos or theme parks than places you might rock up to on a whim to get drunk and have a little dance. With entry fees regularly exceeding €50, drinks rarely going for less than €15 and cab meters ticking away like Ritchie Hawtin bangers, Ibiza is all frills...'. (quote from Vice).

'Well, here's a race you won't want to miss – it's the prize-winning 'Stupidest Titled Activity 2014' which this year goes to the World Capital of Plastic Farming: '1st Trail Where Is Limit El Ejido'. Yes, they are all very excited, especially the chap who had the honour of finding, with just a google translator to help him navigate through the difficult Idioma de Shakespeare, the title for this magnificent event, a race across the hills behind the luscious resort'. From Lenox' website The Entertainer Online.

'“Do you speak English?” Without a doubt these are the four most terrifying words for many Spaniards. What would inspire more fear in the hearts of people in Spain: a group of armed, hooded terrorists or the sight of a young Swedish family looking alternately at a tourist map and at the multitude in the desperate hope that someone will give them directions...'. Amusing article from Leftbanker.

Twelve great things about the Spanish are noted here at The Huffington Post. Funny (but true)!


Hi Lenox,
Re the stopping of personal allowances in UK.
I spoke to HMRC (In the department that deal with my tax, I have a police pension) they said there are no plans to stop the tax free allowance for Government Employee Pensions, it is the income from rental property they are looking at.
All the best, John

(On illegal homes) Email: [email protected]
name: Hugo Lindkvist. Telephone: 0046736400375
Hi! - I am a journalist from Sweden, covering Portugal and Spain for Swedish newspapers.
I read about your story today in El Pais, and I find your stories really interesting.
Primarily I want to ask you one question: do you happen to know if there are any Swedish people who have been affected in the same way that you have?
Hope to hear from you soon!
Regards, Hugo

Dear Lenox
Concerning the sudden demise of Emilio Botín, I have to confess that on that fateful day I withdrew the equivalent of 2d from the Santander cash machine in Mojácar. I understand that Sr Botín became instantly aware of this run on his bank, exclaimed "¡Esto es supercalifragilisticexpialidoso!", burst into uncontrollable laughter and expired. Only the next day, the Chairman of El Corte Inglés heard that on a recent visit to Granada, when invited to enter the Corte Inglés branch there, I replied that I would rather have a tooth pulled out without anaesthetic. This caused several bystanders to walk away without buying anything, and the Granada branch´s takings plummeted, leading to the Chairman´s fateful apoplexy. Who will be my next victim? (I understand that the Chairman of IKEA has been seen making off on a sledge into the wilderness of Lapland...)
Keep up the good work, Bill


'Inhabitants of La Gomera, a small mountainous island in the Canary group, use a whistled language called the Silbo to communicate over great distances. “This is a form of telephony inferior to ours as regards range, but superior to it in so far as the only apparatus required is a sound set of teeth and a good pair of lungs,” noted Glasgow University phoneticist André Classe in New Scientist in 1958. “The normal carrying power is up to about four kilometres when conditions are good, over twice as much in the case of an exceptional whistler operating under the most favourable circumstances.”' From Futility Closet. Silly video here.




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