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Weekly Report

Business Over Tapas 17th January 2015

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

sábado 17 de enero de 2015, 03:21h

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. Business over Tapas and its writers are not responsible for unauthorised copying or other improper use of this material.

Editorial:
An interesting and, of course, inspiring crowd of politicians descended on Paris for last Sunday's march in favour of the liberty of expression. These included Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, whose own support for this knotty thorn against authoritarian dogma has been somewhat limp – as minister in Aznar's Government, he signed the closure of the two Basque daily newspapers Egunkaria and Egin. He has also been instrumental in the increased control of the Government on the main news media here (three troublesome directors removed in 2014, from El Mundo, El País and La Vanguardia) as well as introducing the notorious 'Canon AEDE' ('Google Tax') and indeed, his Executive is behind the attempt to jail a comedian called Facu Díaz, presenter of 'La Tuerka News', for his harsh but funny TV sketch parodying the Partido Popular with its corruption and imprisoned members by likening the party to a preposterous ETA bulletin. Now we hear of plans to rein-back the Schengen agreement.
So, still room for improvement then.
Housing:
Sixteen reasons to be optimistic about living in Spain in 2015, from Spanish-Property.Net.
From the blog Economistas Frente a la Crisis comes an article about the recuperation of the vivienda in 2015. New jobs can create fresh demand for housing, especially if the banks continue to loosen their purse-strings, but the State needs to find other ways of creating demand (stop knocking down foreign-owned homes in Andalucía could be a start).
'Under the Junta de Andalucía’s “let’s build our way out of la crisis” plan (known officially as the Programa de Impulso a la Construcción Sostenible: “the program for the impulse of sustainable construction”) towns across Andalucía have put aside sufficient land to build a whopping 285,000 new VPO's in the short term, and well over a million long term.
VPO’S are the Spanish version of the council home, price regulated homes that are built and sold by the state. In theory they can’t be resold for a number of years, and their price is regulated once they come onto the open market...'. From David Jackson.
'Getting a Spanish villa at a knock-down price would seem reasonable to most; the country is after all, on its knees, with thousands of vacant properties, increasing unemployment, and the likelihood of another Euro-zone bailout just around the corner. Thousands of British ex-pats saw this time as being an ideal moment to delve into the property market and get that elusive villa, but the government very quickly got onto this, and are now hitting ex-pat villa-owners with shock tax bills if they are of the opinion that the property was purchased too cheaply...'. From iExpats. More on this at Global Property Guide here.
Oria, Almería: Lawyers acting for some of the five British home owners in Oria who face the prospect of seeing their homes demolished succeeded in getting the trial temporarily suspended on Tuesday when they made representations to the court to the effect that their clients had not been included in the proceedings and asking for the case to be sent back to an earlier court to allow the home owners to fully participate. The court is now required to make a ruling on this. More here.
The issue of the 'illegal houses' in Albox, Almería. The Court assigns civil liability to Albox Town Hall in the Procoal Case and sets a bond of 3.1 million euros to cover financial responsibility in the event of a demolition. Similar bonds have been required of 'Proyecto y Construcciones Almanzora S.L.', Procoal Villas S.L., y Empire Villas S.L. whilst the accused Juan Francisco A.G. y Diego Luis A.H. have been asked for a bond of 3.8 and 3.1 million euros. All the houses concerned belong to foreigners. More at Europa Press here. Generally, these building companies have small or no assets (if they still exist) and the lawyer for the AUAN, Gerardo Vásquez, has asked for the law to be changed to guarantee full reimbursement to 'buyers in good faith' before demolition occurs.
Indeed, one problem facing certain town halls is having to budget for condemnatory sentences from the courts. This can leave towns with a shortfall for other more pressing local issues for services and works. In short, the Public must pay for the errors of their Council. A town in Tenerife called La Laguna has one euro in three for the public works department earmarked for paying off court-fines... More at Urbanísmo Patas Arriba.
Tourism:
'Over 2.4 million people visited Granada’s Moorish palace in 2014 making it the most visited tourist site in Spain. The study, carried out by the world famous tourist attraction, also shows that in January and February, usually the quietest months, visitor numbers were up by 20 percent and ten percent respectively...'. From The Local.
Finance:
'The economic confidence of Spain in December stood at its highest rate since June 2007, before the outbreak of the financial crisis that led to the great economic recession, reaching 105.6 points, compared with 104.2 the previous month, thanks to improvements experienced among consumers, services and the retail trade, according to the indicator prepared by the European Commission...'. Found at Kyero.
The Government foresees a saving of 15,000 million euros in 2015 thanks to the fall in crude oil prices, says El Mundo here.
The Government has taken enthusiastically to the idea of selling off publicly-owned property and then renting it back. The State is currently paying 227.3 million euros in rent for buildings, having sold off in the past three years some 462 million euros worth of still-used real-estate. As an example, the Ministry of Justice pays 2.4m per year for its own building, plus a further 13.1m for various court-houses scattered around the country.
Carlos Slim, George Soros (who once almost bankrupted the UK), Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have investments in Spain of over 3,000 million euros. More here. Don't they have enough?
The Vulture Funds that destroyed Greece (and what about Spain?).
Who is the worst Minister of Finance in Europe, according to the Financial Times? Step forward Spain's Luis de Guindos. Germany's Wolfgang Schäuble is the best, apparently. The story at Hosteltur.
Will the Generalitat de Catalunya have to bail out the unpopular C-17 toll-route which stretches 49 kms between Centelles (Barcelona) and Ripoll (Girona) at a cost to the Public of 280 million euros? It appears likely. Público has the story.
Politics:
An article in Guerra Eterna discusses the reaction of right-wing Governments and parties to the events in Paris. Their fears are twofold: '...Internet and Schengen. The obsessions of the ultras and of our Government. Terrorism has the strange ability to show us who is in favour of civil rights and who believes that such ideals should only be tolerated'. A discussion about some of Charlie Hebdo's new right-wing 'friends' is found at the oddly-named Cafèambllet.
President Mariano Rajoy was in Greece on Wednesday, warning those who would listen '...to stick with tough policies and to disregard "impossible" promises...'. More at Reuters.
The latest CIS survey from El País finds that 84% of Spaniards consider the current political situation to be either 'mala' or 'muy mala'. Those who think that the economic situation will improve within the year has risen since November from 16.4% to 22.5%.
El País in English appears to be against the 'Intellectual Property Legislation' – despite its main title El País being a leading member of the AEDE which canvassed for the 'Canon AEDE'. Perhaps they noticed how linkage, and thus readership, have fallen precipitously.
'Gibraltar's Chief Minister has warned that if the UK exits the EU it could create an “existential issue” with political and economic consequences. Fabian Picardo said the Rock’s EU membership has boosted its ability to stand up to Spain, particularly to its attitude towards freedom of movement and border controls...'. More at The Olive Press.
The split between the PSOE and its junior partner the IU in Andalucía appears to be widening. Could we be seeing an early election? Euro Mundo Global reports.
Alfonso Alonso, the new Health Minister, granted an interview to El Mundo this week. Straying off topic, perhaps, he says that Podemos is a risk and a threat of instability for Spain but that he doubts that citizens would, in the end, vote for such an insecure option...
The latest survey on the subject of votes returns the lead to Podemos with 28.2%, followed by the PSOE with 23.5% and the PP with 19.5%. The fourth group, beating out the IU, is Ciudadanos. The survey was commissioned by El País. Story here.
...and talking of Podemos, in his appearance Monday at a press conference, the leader of the group, Pablo Iglesias, said that the March of Change, the potentially huge demonstration for January 31st in Madrid, has been called "not to protest or to ask for anything", but just to show that "what is now merely a mobilization will, by the end of this year, become a government of the people". He added that he expected that "many people" would go to fill the Puerta del Sol, "the symbolic space of the political change in Spain". Noting that the 15M movement was started there, he said that they intended it to be "an historical mobilization. We want people to be able to tell their grandchildren that they once were in the demonstration that opened the door to a change of cycle in Spain." (Found at El Ventano here). By the way, Pablo Iglesias speaks good English (video here).
Corruption:
The new Director of Public Prosecutions ('Fiscal General del Estado') is Consuelo Madrigal and she has promised zero tolerance against corruption. Madrigal takes over from Eduardo Torres-Dulce, who admitted to pressure from the Government over his professional activities. More here.
The Austrian director of the Palau de las Arts in Valencia, Helga Schmidt, has been accused of syphoning off monies from the arts centre for her own use. Between 2008 and 2012, she is said to have amassed over 500,000 euros in illegal commissions, according to a report in El Mundo.
Oleguer Pujol, at 42, the youngest of Jordi Pujol's sons, is hiding money in various places around the world according to El Mundo this week, with 2.8m euros recently discovered in Curaçao, and another 1.8m euros in the Bahamas. Oleguer doesn't want to help the authorities tax and control his fortune, says the paper sadly, adding that he also is known to have money stashed in Guernsey, the British Virgin Islands, Andorra and elsewhere. A story in 2014 from Libertad Digital rated the family fortune under Oleguer's control at around 3,000 million euros.
When Judge Pablo Ruz is relieved of his duties at his court Nº 5 at the Audiencia Nacional, sometime in March, and interrupting his inquiries into the Gürtel and Bárcenas cases, the new appointee is likely to be a magistrate and senior member of the PSOE called José de la Mata, considered the best of a list of eighteen candidates for the post. More here.
Catalonia:
The President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, has announced that elections will be held in the region for September 27th. More here.
Various:
'President Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Friday dismissed media reports that the Russian leader owns a luxury Spanish villa where he is planting a vineyard...'. From 7 News. A story in The Olive Press claims different!
35% of Spaniards rarely or never read, according to the CIS survey at El País.
The PP-controlled Town Hall in Albacete has started work on a 1.2 million euro cycle path according to Albacete Abierto, which laments the waste.
Lèse Majesté: As a paternity suit brought by a Belgian woman called Irene Satiau against King Juan Carlos is accepted by the Supreme Court. What rights might an illegitimate child have? 20 Minutos looks at the case.
'Angry ex-pats are demanding better treatment from the British Government that they say has cut them “adrift” from mainstream policy. They maintain UK citizens living in Spain and other European countries are being ignored in the debate – and promised referendum – on EU membership, and say they remain “easy targets” for cuts...'. From The Round Town News.
Digital visitors to the large newspaper web-sites (November's figures) for El Mundo were down on the month by 9%, El País down 7% and ABC down 6%. This was the last month before Google Noticias withdrew its service from Spain. (Found at PRInternet quoting figures from Comscore).
The Tax-office has fined an Asturian farmer 4,800 euros for carrying home wood for his fire using a tractor of his which runs on subsidised farm fuel.
A young engineer from Águilas in Murcia has been hired by NASA to work on their rockets, says El Pajarito. And here's an impressive picture of Spain, taken by NASA from space.
Appaloosa horses in Spain at the Espíritu del Viento here.
Finally:
The powerful voice of Diana Navarro with 'Hiciste Sangre en Mis Labios' at YouTube (look for her album '24 Rosas').
*Some silly pictures and other material at Business over Tapas on Facebook.

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