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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 313)

Business over Tapas (Nº 313)

02AGO19.- A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: Prepared by Lenox Napier. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

viernes 02 de agosto de 2019, 12:22h

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Editorial:

Every time we go to the dustbins these days, we are greeted (most of us) by an array of contenadores to put our waste in – glass, plastic, paper and general garbage. The general one – at least – is then hauled off six nights a week to some vile destination known only to the seagulls. Now some people prefer to leave their trash in the fields or in the verges; others throw it off a handy cliff (video here, yes, he’s been identified by the police) while there are those who neatly, inexplicably, leave it next to the contenador (for company, maybe?), but most of us know to gamely lever up the heavy and sticky lid and to push our bin-liner of kitchen garbage in to the box and out of our lives.

Waste management is, of course, a lot larger problem than Sr López from next door forgetting to divide the glass from the plastic in his trash, and who probably reckons it’s a waste of time anyway.

We piously consider buying an electric car (maybe next year) or maybe a solar-panel roof as we console ourselves that the ugly wind-turbines that dot the Spanish countryside are at least clean and save on the diesel-burning power stations – not that we see any difference in our electricity bill.

Yet, our environment is still dirtier than ever. Madrid, Barcelona and Granada have been recently fined by Brussels for unhealthy levels of smog, while our practical solution to destroying plastic and rubber waste (by an accidental fire) and our record for being the second largest polluter of the Mediterranean (after Turkey) is not a happy one.

Worse still, the junk bled into the seas from our cruise ships, and into the skies with our airplanes, means that, unlike Neighbour López, we are simply fiddling while Rome burns.

Housing:

Spanish Property Insight asks here ‘How long does it take to sell a home in Spain, and how does the rate of sale compare to the UK?’

A British entrepreneur was given a prize – organised by La Voz de Almería and the town halls last week – in a local gala in Northern Almería. This honour has since upset some of the local Brits. Gordon Condrey, who has been in the area with his Spanish wife for at least thirty years, began promoting Albox and the surrounding area of the Almanzora Valley to his northern Europeans clients back in the mid-nineties. Not all of his deals were ‘sweet’, and they included houses which would later figure among the 300,000 ‘illegal homes’ as created by the Junta de Andalucía in around 2008 (we remember Helen and Len Prior). The mayor of the nearby municipality of Arboleas, who chose Gordon for the 2019 honour, seems popular enough with his foreign residents. The story can be found at Almeria Hoy here and at Murcia Today here. Neither article features a reply from either Condrey or from the Arboleas Town Hall.

Tourism:

‘More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for a limit of one cruise ship a day docking in Palma de Mallorca. About 500 giant cruise ships dock in the city on the south coast of the popular holiday destination of Mallorca each year, disgorging two million passengers. The manifesto calling for curbs on the ships, which has already been signed by more than 30 organisations and 11,000 islanders, will be presented at a conference in Palma on Friday. It calls for a limit of one cruise ship with a maximum of 4,000 passengers disembarking on any given day...’. From The Guardian here.

Are airplane flights bad for the environment? Presumably so. Last Thursday, across the world, there were 230,000 flights recorded. Xataca reports on the subject here.

When you are on holiday, says El País here, you need to relax! There were 1,400 million international tourists worldwide last year: many of them spending their holidays stressfully trying to see everything.

El País talks to hotel staff – the things that they hate about their guests... In Spain, there are around 16,000 hotels employing around 275,000 staffers.

Finance:

‘Spanish stock market leads European plunge amid fears of no-deal Brexit. Ibex 35 fell below 9,000-point level as concerns grow over China-US trade deal and UK-EU relationship’. Headline from El País in English on Wednesday.

‘Enjoy the holidays: Autumn could get nasty’, a gloomy financial picture from The Corner here.

Scandals surround Spanish banks, says VozPópuli here. The article mentions the BBVA, the Banco Santander, the CaixaBank, Ibercaja and the ING Bank, who all appear to have crossed the line between sound banking practice and improper behaviour. The article begins: ‘Banks have been under the spotlight of the judiciary in recent days, opening the door to a scenario of unforeseeable consequences in the sector. Up to five financial institutions, including the two most important in the country, have been involved in scandals, some of which are already under the focus of the National Court. Recordings with their executives in compromising actions, bribery accusations and suspicions of money laundering have starred in the blackest week of Spanish banking for a long time...’. The BBVA story is gathering the most column inches (and embarrassment), with an order this week to stand trial over compromising documents found in the Villarejo Case, including espionage and illegal payments made. The ABC reports here.

‘The BBVA admits that the Villarejo Case has already impacted the bank’s reputation. The CEO of the bank, Onur Genç, argues that "for now it has not been reflected in our business”. The bank earned 2,442 million through June this year: 3.7% down on the same time last year’. Item from El País here.

Hacienda published a tough report on Wednesday in which they point directly to the self-employed autónomos, accusing a good part of them of evading the full payment of taxes. "The technicians suspect that there may be hidden reasons why almost half of the self-employed, in total more than 1.5 million, declare to earn less than 12,000 euros a year... ", explains the document...’. From El Mundo here. Expect more inspections...

‘...The unemployment rate fell almost seven tenths in the second quarter to 14%, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008; while the job rate rose four tenths, to 58.7%, after increasing the number of people in employment by 210,200 people between April and June (+ 0.9%)...’. From Público here.

From El País here: ‘Spanish football has generated 185,000 jobs, its turnover exceeds 15,600 million euros and its tax collection, 4,100 million. It has thus become a pillar of the entertainment industry’.

Part of Cepsa, the gas and petrol giant, has been sold by owner Mubadala to the Carlyle investment fund. Mubadala from Abu Dhabi remains the majority shareholder. Brussels has now given the go-ahead for the sale says La Gaceta here.

‘Amancio Ortega, Europe's richest man and founder of retailer Inditex, had commercial property assets worth nearly 10,000 million euros at the end of 2018, up 11.5 percent from the previous year according to his investment firm on Wednesday. Using the huge dividend payouts from Inditex, octogenarian Ortega has made largely debt-free purchases of buildings ranging from prime shopping real estate in London and New York to office buildings in central Madrid...’. From WKZO (‘Everything Kalamazoo) here.

Politics:

Last week’s investiture didn’t go well, apparently, even if it may have gone as planned. Briefly, the PSOE candidature of Pedro Sánchez was unable to gather support from other parties, or not even enough abstentions, (Unidas Podemos finally abstained), leaving Sánchez as ‘acting president’ until either something gives way, or until fresh elections in November. Having seen the latest polls (below), he’s not all that bothered. El Español says that Sánchez considers that Pablo Iglesias committed an error by not supporting him, leaving the Unidas Podemos to become rather irrelevant. Iglesias for his part feels that the PSOE is not a party of the Izquierda (Público here). Gabriel Rufián from the ERC made a good point in the second investiture speech saying that the Left had screwed things up again (video here) as well as telling off Pablo Casado from the PP for referring to the PSOE, the independents and Podemos as being ‘una banda’, whereas, said Rufián, the PP and its friends the C’s and Vox ‘are more of a commando’. El Confidencial is the source here.

The CIS (or, as El Mundo prefers, ‘Tezano’s CIS’) is giving the PSOE 41.3% in intention of vote, with the PP far behind at just 13.7%. El País has the details here.

Like many other ex-politicians, the former Minister of Justice in the Rajoy Government, Rafael Catalá, has since found a comfy position after leaving his seat last May 21st. Catalá has recently signed up with Codere, one of the big companies in the gaming sector - casinos, 'online' bets and recreational machines - as an external collaborator and global advisor of institutional relations. While the current government battles against gambling, the previous Justice Minister (!) earns his bread from this very activity says Público here.

Another to enjoy the ‘revolving doors’ from politics to capital is the ex-Minister of Health Carmen Montón (PSOE) who has joined a private-health lobby called the Fundación Fundamed. Las Provincias has the story here.

From El País comes ‘Ciudadanos suffers a fresh defection from its ranks. Following the failure of the investiture of Pedro Sánchez, the party's tax spokesperson and deputy for Madrid Francisco de la Torre announced his resignation of all his responsibilities and the resignation of his seat from next September...’.

Andalucía:

The Junta de Andalucía’s "snowball": 8,600 million euros in grants and unjustified payments. By the end of 2018, the Andalusian Administration had accumulated 4,665 million euros in loans pending collection, of which 1,500 million are older than six years’. Not a good record from Seville, says El Confidencial here.

Courts:

The case of the public-owned homes sold to the Blackstone vulture-fund by the Madrid mayoress Ana Botella back in 2012 (here) were shelved last week by the judges (who were apparently PP-appointees). However, the decision must now be appealed following a vote in the Madrid town hall says Madrid Diario here.

A Dutchman has been arrested in Calpe for lacing minced beef with horse-meat on an industrial scale. He has previously been punished in his own country and is wanted by the French authorities for adulterating 538 tons of beef with horse. The story at El País here.

Brexit:

From The Guardian here: ‘We have been forgotten by Boris Johnson, say Britons in Europe. New PM has pledged to help EU citizens in the UK after Brexit – but not the 1.3 million British folk in the EU’.

'...Michael Harris is one of the 249,015 Britons (according to the latest INE data) resident in Spain, who are uncertain about the immediate destiny of their country and, above all, what will become of them and their rights as citizens residing abroad. "We have been in the middle as a bargaining chip since 2016," says Harris, adding to have felt "used" by both sides. Since the beginning of the process, he has tried to defend his rights through Eurocitizens, a pro-European platform of which he is founder and born to defend the interests of British residents in Spain against the threat of Brexit. The precipitate arrival of Boris Johnson and his government was expected, but it has been received by the British community in Spain as a threat, as a 'Hard Brexit' would be the most harmful situation possible for them. “The main ministers such as Raab (Foreign) and Patel (Interior) are the extreme right of the Conservative Party and are committed Brexiteers,” says Harris, who not only worries about the lack of agreement, but also about the tensions that this can generate between the United Kingdom and the European Union...'. ...

On saving our skin with a Spanish passport: ‘...Many Britons have attempted to obtain Spanish nationality so as not to lose their status as Europeans. However, for this they must renounce British citizenship, as there is no agreement that allows them to have dual citizenship – something that Spaniards living in the United Kingdom can obtain. To achieve this, they must fight against long delays, as evidenced by the waiting list of around 400,000 people listed as of last March, with many cases in which they have tried to process it since 2015, according to Harris. In addition, upon obtaining their prized Spanish DNI, many try to maintain their British passports and for practical purposes their British nationality, but they do so illegally...’. Público has the story here.

Media:

From El Español here. ‘The Vice President of the Government, Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Equality Carmen Calvo proposes to limit the freedom of expression of the media. "We need security," says Calvo, who insists that the viability of the democratic model is "a superior good to protect". Citizens are "invaded and bombarded with information," she says. Carmen Calvo expressed this view in the framework of the inauguration of the XVI Coca-Cola Journalism Conference (Sic!) called 'Who pays the lie? Is the truth paid?' organized in Madrid by the Association of European Journalists.

Oh to have such power!

Ecology:

A serious doc from the Turkish Anadolu Agency here: ‘Soil to sand: Spain’s growing threat of desertification. Climate change and unsustainable land use could spell catastrophe for the Mediterranean’.

‘The Spanish wind sector is one of the largest world leaders in exports. Thanks to an industry with 207 manufacturing centres distributed in 16 of the 17 autonomous communities, Spain is one of the countries of reference in wind technology exports...’. More at Energías Renovables here. From El Periódico de la Energía here, ‘Spain breaks the production record with solar energy in July thanks to the new installed capacity’.

Less cheerful reading at ElDiario.es here: ‘More than 40% of aquifers in Spain are endangered by the contamination of agricultural and livestock industry waste’.

A useful page from Almuñecar Info deals with the different trash containers. It says, ‘Let’s learn a little more about recycling in Spain!’

‘Police will now hand out €3,000 fines to those not disposing of waste correctly, it has been announced. A campaign was launched in Mijas this week, in a bid to tackle the garbage problem in the municipality. It comes after a strike by bin-men in Mijas was called off after an ‘agreement was signed’ ahead of the new Government being sworn in. The maximum penalty of €3,000 will penalise people who deposit toxic, hazardous or special urban waste in normal containers...’. From The Olive Press here.

From The Olive Press here. ‘A Costa Blanca Chiringuito gives free beer for every cup of cigarette butts that are handed in’. Now that’s a good idea.

Various:

How many are we? From Spanish Property Insight comes ‘British & EU expats numbers in Spain – what’s going on?’

The Peninsular war on YouTube: ‘Napoleon’s Vietnam. Spain 1809 – 1811. Here.

‘British historian Paul Preston will publish in October this year a new book in Spanish called ‘Un pueblo traicionado’ dedicated to the twentieth century, although this time focused on the responsibility of elites in the blockade of modernity in Spain’. From VozPópuli here comes ‘The story of how the elites sabotaged the progress of Spain’.

‘The International History Students & Historians Group, a London-based group, slams the Málaga town hall for plans to mostly destroy medieval Moorish ruins to make way for metro upgrades’ says The Olive Press here.

From The Guardian comes an article about how the wild boars are rooting through our gardens. ‘Boar wars: how wild hogs are trashing European cities. They have become a menace in European cities. In Barcelona, where wild boar are jostling tourists and raiding rubbish bins, the fight-back has begun...’.

From Think Spain here: ‘Motorcyclists and moped-riders may be required by law to wear gloves, could lose extra points for not wearing a helmet and will be encouraged to fit airbags, as part of the traffic authority's draft plans for cutting down on road injuries and fatalities...’.

ABC looks at foreign drivers and their fines here (the French and the Portuguese are speeders, apparently). According to this, the Brits are the most likely, at 66.7%, to pay their multas.

The drones from tráfico will start fining drivers from today, Thursday, says Las Provincias.

More on radars, what types, where they are and which ones fine the most at El Mundo here.

Now you can have a legal driving licence on your mobile phone! See here.

A useful toy – a bit of metal from Peugeot Design will instantly age your wine with a dip. Even the stuff that Lenox drinks.

See Spain:

It’s the norm to use building material from earlier civilizations – so we read that the Alhambra was repaired using Moorish gravestones, says Atlas Obscura here.

A photo-gallery of Spain’s most beautiful coastal towns, with El Mundo here.

El País has the most beautiful towns in Spain, chosen by architects here.

From Enjoy Zaragoza (here), we find this oddity: ‘The Aragonese Castle that "governs" one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean’. We read that The Aragonese Castle of Ischia, located in front of the city of Naples, on the Island of Ischia in Italy, is a real wonder to which the Crown of Aragon contributed more than just the name...’. Wiki has more here: ‘...The castle was built by Hiero I of Syracuse in 474 BC. At the same time, two towers were built to control enemy fleets' movements. The rock was then occupied by Parthenopeans (the ancient inhabitants of Naples). In 326 BC the fortress was captured by Romans, and then again by the Parthenopeans. In 1441 Alfonso V of Aragon connected the rock to the island with a stone bridge instead of the prior wood bridge, and fortified the walls in order to defend the inhabitants against the raids of pirates...’.

Finally:

Who needs insecticide in the plastic farms of Almería, when you can work with friendly insects? From YouTube here.

Oh, and this... sometimes, it took three trips to get the whole family to the beach. Heh!

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