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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nbr: 370)

Business over Tapas (Nbr: 370)

  • 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 16 de octubre de 2020, 20:47h

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Editorial:

Spain has a political system which allows opportunity. From the most humble councillor in the town hall (well, with a voice in the local government, that is) to the very top, there is opportunity. One can make use of it or not, as each and every politician must decide.

Many did, and that led to the eventual fall of the last conservative government: for corrupción (Wiki)!

The famous mantra of ‘…y tú más’, which translates as something like ‘Oh yea? and what about your guys?’ was shattered with the rise of Pedro Sánchez (one recalls how the PSOE apparatus of the time did all it could to get rid of him) and, to the far-left, the arrival of Podemos with Pablo Iglesias.

Neither of these two is well seen by the Spanish Establishment. Business – and opportunity – is not best served.

From this comes the continuous plots and ferocious political opposition.

This time though, the electorate is more attuned to the manipulation of the media.

In short, their enemies do all they can to find some dirt on either Pedro or Pablo, whose fame rests to a large degree on their integrity, knowing that any sign of having feet of clay will probably topple them. And for this, the right-wing, much of the judiciary, the media and big business look under every stone and in every sewer, as they seek to manufacture some scandal that would stick, above all in the eyes of the voters.

Housing:

From Wolf Street here: ‘Private-Equity Firm Blackstone Tries to Unload its Properties’. The vulture-fund Blackstone is Spain’s largest landlord, ‘with some 100,000 real estate assets in the country’, says the article. They are offering for sale cheap 8,400 of these.

From the British Government here: ‘Spain: buying and renting property. Information on legal requirements and advice for British nationals buying or renting property in Spain’.

Several small settlements in the Cabo de Gata national park (Almería) are threatened by building licences issued by the regional government. A total of 90ha of licensed building?

Tourism:

From The Corner here: ‘Spain Retains Its Third Place In The Most Attractive Countries For Tourism ranking’.

Jet2 postpones its return to Alicante and Malaga to February 11’ says Hosteltur here.

Finance:

The Senate definitively approves the 'Tasa Google': the tax on large technologies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and the like) which will come into force in January 2021’. Xataka has the details here. The reaction from the USA was inevitable: ‘Alarm in the wine and oil sectors: Trump threatens to double the tariffs on Spain’. El Confidencial Digital reports here.

A new ‘law against fraud’ has been approved for parliamentary debate. This would place a limit of 1,000€ payable in cash. It also prohibits ‘fiscal amnesties’ and bans double-accounting software. La Información has the details here. La Vanguardia says that Hacienda estimates it will collect a further 800 million euros per annum in tax with this law. .

The IMF forecasts a fall across the euro-zone economy of 8.3% for this year, 1.9 percentage points better than expected in June, with Spain leading the way down with the sharpest recession (- 12.8%) among its larger economies…’. A press notice from EFE here.

The BBVA will charge customers two euros a time to withdraw cash from January says Bolsamanía here.

You can look up information, for free, on any Spanish registered company at LibreBor.

Politics:

The Government plans an overhaul of the Public Administration says El Mundo here.

From Público here: ‘The PSOE and UP register the reform to unblock the Judiciary and expect it to come into force before the end of the year. The intention of the regulation is to lower the majority necessary for the Courts to elect the 12 members of the General Council of the Judiciary that correspond to them. Currently, three fifths of each Chamber are needed, and the reform aims to lower it to an absolute majority (176 deputies at least)’. Under the Spanish Constitution, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) should be replaced every five years. It is currently two years out of date. Conservatives say that the Government hopes to switch judges sympathetic to the PP to radical ones. A lobby called the European Association of Judges, says VozPópuli here, claim that "Spain is taking a step back in the fundamental objectives for the independence of the Judicial Power". The EAJ’s homepage is here and their statement here (pdf). However, the Jueces Para la Democracia insist on the earliest renovation of the CGPJ here. El Español meanwhile blames the ‘separatists’ for the reform! The pundit Iñaki Gabilondo asks in a CadenaSer video ‘An abuse… or the end of an abuse?’.

The PP manipulates reports from La Moncloa to blame Sánchez for the pandemic’, according to El País here: ‘The leak of fragments from the daily reports that the Department of National Security (DSN) sent to the Government between last January and March has served the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, to accuse Pedro Sánchez of ignoring the alerts about the pandemic. However, what has been leaked from the notes, which PP parliamentarians examined in the DSN office in La Moncloa (viz. official residence and workplace of the President of Spain), are incomplete sentences that alter their meaning. The episode has broken trust between the two major parties on a very sensitive field: national security…’.

From Diario 16 here: 'An EU report warns that the institutional blockade of the PP could break democracy in Spain. Practices such as the paralysis of the justice system and the "no" to any type of political consensus to carry out the necessary reforms can lead the country to disaster'. It's certainly not going well (imagine if all of Spain pulled in the same direction!).

The notorious (but doomed) motion of confidence debate tabled by Santiago Abascal (who offers himself as the replacement president of Spain) will be heard in Congress on Wednesday and Thursday next week. El Mundo says by way of explanation that ‘the main point is to take the initiative by forcing the PP to portray itself in front of public opinion as a party gripped by internal friction, doomed to a very complicated budget negotiation, faced with a pandemic that is out of control and dragged by its minor partner into institutional shock. Vox aims to present itself as the only battering ram against Sánchez, showing that the numerical superiority of the PP in Congress does not in practice endorse the title of ‘leader of the opposition’…’.

A death threat against Pablo Iglesias on Twitter here.

A deputy called Oskar Matute from EH Bildu speaks in Parliament about corruption, here on YouTube. Matute comes from an unpopular regional party, and so says what he wants. He ‘has no hairs on his tongue’ as the expression goes.

IU leader Alberto Garzón will have rivals in the XII Federal Assembly that will renew the leadership of Izquierda Unida in early 2021. The former party leader José Antonio García Rubio announced last week his intention to lead an alternative candidacy to the one led by the Minister of Consumption for election to the head of the coalition…’ García Rubio leads a faction that is opposed to IU’s links with Podemos. The story is at elDiario.es here.

Europe:

Is the euro strengthening? The Corner looks at the foreign exchange rate.

From Mark Stücklin here (he makes a good point): ‘British residents in Spain, don’t forget to apply for your TIE (Foreigner’s ID) card this year, just to be on the safe side’.

From City AM (thanks to my friend John) here: ‘Despite a generation of frantically trying to change the subject — be it by focusing on their own arcane (and very boring) institutional struggles, the problems of other countries (usually the US), or fatuously announcing that every obvious setback is merely a chance to move “the project” of European integration decisively forward — euro-cheerleader analysts are just about out of intellectual snake oil to sell to the rest of us. For when all the smoke and mirrors are revealed, what remains is a continent in terminal decline. Now, for a Europe that has made managing rather than solving economic crises into an art form, the time for paying the piper is fast approaching…’.

The Coronavirus:

A blistering editorial from La Nueva España here: "Do not politicize the coronavirus unless you want more body bags," said the director general of the World Health Organization when the pandemic began. The virus thrives, the economy is bleeding to death and the leaders of Spanish parliamentary life persist in their misery. The true demon for health and coexistence is the poison that the ruling class is sowing. The rules are changed as quickly as one might a shirt depending on the surveys, the second-rate counsellors or the convenience of the day. Extremism is jellied with sour tears. Any decision is judicialized. Citizens are distressed and unprotected with contradictory norms. Stop. If no one rectifies and yields, this will end in disaster; and the usual ones will pay…’.

Margarita del Val from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas warns that we must resign ourselves to wearing a mask for at least two years’. Telecinco here.

Madrid finally entered a fifteen-day state of alarm, imposed by the National Government, last Friday. El País in English explains. Is Madrid concealing some of its cases to massage the numbers? Apparently.

If they close the bars, people will just go home and infect their families’ Isabel Díaz Ayuso.

In Catalonia, all bars and restaurants are now closed until November says Crónica Global.

From El Huff Post here: ‘Oxfam warning: the coronavirus could leave more than a million new poor in Spain’.

Courts:

The PP has been firmly condemned for profiting from the Gürtel plot. ‘The Tribunal Supremo ratifies, with slight adjustments, the prison sentences for 29 defendants set by the National High Court’. We read that ‘…eleven of the accused have their sentences confirmed to more than twelve years in prison, including Francisco Correa, Pablo Crespo, Luis Bárcenas and his wife Rosalía Iglesias, and Guillermo Ortega…’. Item from El País here.

How will Luis Bárcenas take having his wife imprisoned? Will he finally spill the beans about what he knows about the PP? No doubt many people anxiously await the answers to these questions says La Verdad here.

The case brought by Irene Montoro against the continuous clamour outside her house by ‘anti-podemistas’ has been ‘archived’.

We meet the court – the Central de Instrucción número 6 – and the judge Manuel García Castellón that’s investigating Pablo Iglesias here. The judge claims he has been a victim of a smear campaign’ over his investigation here, and even death threats which brings us here: ‘What’s happening with journalism in Spain? Yesterday all the news on private TV and more than 20 newspapers gave the news about death threats to the judge who wants Pablo Iglesias to be charged. Yet, not one media has investigated which (fake?) accounts lie behind this false flag action’. What exactly is this ‘investigation’ about anyway?

The Guardian looks at the Iglesias case: ‘Spain's deputy PM says call for inquiry is part of attempt to discredit him’.

Media:

What would the news be about, those 32 or 48 pages in the newspaper, the long digital scroll, the radio, the TV chat shows, if there wasn’t a pandemic? You see, with the pandemic taking up all the news, there’s not much room for anything else. ElDiario.es runs an editorial here. Well, there’s always Business over Tapas

Ecology:

What happens to used olive-oil, asks The Conversation (en castellano) here. There’s a lot of it. ‘…In Spain, for example, we consume around 850,000 tons of oil per year. This massive production of oil brings with it a proportional waste production. Spain generates about 150 million litres of used vegetable oil…’. Apart from home-made soap, says the article, waste-vegetable oils can be used in bio-combustibles, lubricants and plastics.

Various:

40dB, funded by a group of ‘independent’ media (they seem to principally be left-wing news-sources), has produced its survey over the Spanish monarchy. The 3,000 people surveyed ‘from all walks of life’ leant towards a republic, 40.5% over a monarchy 34.9%. An opinion on the results is here.

Strambotic says that ‘The main stumbling block to legalising marijuana in Spain is the PSOE’. It says: ‘The Spanish cannabis business sector is one of the most thriving and innovative in the world. The scientific community, both national and international, has strong evidence of the efficacy of medicinal cannabis, and even the pharmaceutical industry is receptive to the enormous possibilities that cannabis sativa offers…’. Pedro Sánchez, when asked about legalisation a couple of years ago, answered, ‘that would be opening another can of worms against the Government’. The Guardian notes that where there’s a void, there’s a criminal willing to fill it: ‘Spain becomes cannabis hub as criminals fill tourism void. With high profit margins and low risk of long jail time, Catalonia is now the marijuana capital of Europe, police warn’. The gloriously inept Global247News says ‘Criminals move into Spain bringing crime with them…’ and talks of ‘Opium dens and cannabis factories’. Certainly here in Almería, with all the plastic farms, there’s practically a daily ‘bust’ by the police (See La Voz de Almería marihuana on Google ‘News’). Yet. Yet. From a report earlier this month at Público here: ‘A joint operation of the Guardia Civil and the Tax Agency, at the request of the Court of Instruction 6 of the National Court and its Anti-drug Prosecutor's Office, has intervened one of the largest cannabis seed banks in Spain, Dinafem, which exports to twenty countries with a volume sales, which in 2019 reached 18 million euros…’. Another fine mess…

The pharmaceutical companies traditionally like to tip their customers – doctors – with a small token of their esteem. Last year, this rose to just over 600 million euros.

The Junta gives green light to new park in Mijas (Málaga) which will be the biggest in the province. The town hall hopes to put the 20-million-euro project out to tender next year with the intention of opening the park in 2023…’. Item from Sur in English here.

How a street near a Spanish IKEA store in Valladolid ended up with the name ‘I’m Missing a Screw’. A vote by the public saw the thoroughfare get the unusual moniker, but it is not the only road in Spain to end up with a weird and wonderful designation’. The story is here at El País in English. There’s one in Mojácar: the prosaically named ‘Calle Climb to the Football Field’, where, er, there once was such a service (it’s now a combination public car-park and swimming pool).

The law regarding dash-cams.

From Eye on Spain here: ‘Spaniards shop less often but spend more and they are switching from meat towards fruit and veg’ – the details come from Aldi supermarket research.

The statue of Francisco Largo Caballero in Madrid was attacked by graffiti last weekend. Following which, Vox tweeted ‘Stop the Historic Memory Law. First warning’. Pedro Sánchez tweeted back. ‘In a democratic country, threats are inadmissible. We shall continue to build a Spain worthy of those who fought so that today we are what we are: free’. The item comes from the RTVE. Even the ABC was indignant about the profanity! (In 1936 and 1937 Caballero served as the Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War. Wiki).

Anti-Spanish prejudice is a historical subject worthy of a book. Joseph Pérez, a French historian who has just died, published such a study, called ‘La Leyenda Negra’, in 2009. More on the book and its author at El Español here.

Spaniards in the Battle of Crete. Bellumartis Blog de Historia Militar looks at the Spanish who fought with the British Commandos in the 1941 Retreat from Crete. A number of Spanish soldiers had been in the French Foreign Legion, posted in 1940 to the Middle East, and some of the legionnaires escaped to Palestine after the French surrender, joining up with British forces. From these, seventy Spaniards were invited to join with fifty Britons into a force known as Commando Nº50 under LTC A.D. Young. The article is interesting (and notes that the Spanish soldiers, who spoke no English, worried they would be shot as Spanish Republicans if they were caught. Their plan was to pretend to be Gibraltarians).

The Spanish legión is a hundred years old this year. The story here. Wiki (in English) here.

Some anti- Columbus Day pop songs from Spain and Latin America at Cuarto Poder here.

See Spain:

El Mundo shows us around a cave home in its article ‘Guadix (Granada), the town with 2,000 cave-houses’.

Setenil de las Bodegas (Cádiz), says La Vanguardia, is the most searched destination in Spain at the present time. There’s a video in the article.

Letters:

Ah, no one writes…

Finally:

Some interesting figures and facts for those who think Spain only survives thanks to the British tourists:

Let’s start with Industry...

- 2nd largest car manufacturer in Europe, 6th globally, 1st in the production of industrial vehicles.

- Acciona is 1st renewable energy company worldwide and Spain is the global leading country in renewable energy production. 3 of the 5 leading thermal-electrical companies are Spanish. You might like to see who are the main contractors of the wind parks in the North Sea and the English Channel. You’ll be surprised.

- ACS, Abertis and Ferrovial are the largest infrastructure management companies worldwide! Yes, 4 British airports are managed by them, but also other airports all over the world, as well as ports, motorways and railway and subway systems. Just think of México City, Panama, Bogotá, Santiago or Lima as some examples.

- Talking of which, Spain is also one the world main high speed train constructors. I don’t mean only the trains (with several manufacturers - CAF is world’s 6th largest) supplying underground networks like Riyadh , Washington DC, Santiago de Chile or Mexico City (amongst many others) but also the construction of the railway network (Saudi high-speed rail, Istanbul-Ankara or Seattle-Portland, for example).

- Spain is the 7th producer of satellites in orbit. It’s also Europe’s main military transport aircraft manufacturer, as well as one of NATO’s main military vessels constructors.

- Spain has some of the world’s main banks, like Santander, BBVA, Caixa or Sabadell, with subsidiaries in most Latin American countries, as well as USA and the UK.

- Spain is a leading player in the biotechnology and health industry.

- It’s the third largest global manufacturer of industrial tooling equipment.

- Regarding the dynamic fashion industry, Spain is home to Inditex, the world’s largest fashion producer and distributor, with production plants in 8 countries and over 5,500 stores in 82 countries.

- Spain is number 4 in the printing and editorial industry.

- Spain is the world’s number one exporter of fruit and vegetables and amongst the top in pork, chicken and rabbit production. It’s Europe’s number one in game production -being the second European country with the largest number of natural parks and protected areas, this is a huge contributor to distant rural areas.

- World’s largest fishing company is Spanish and Spain is amongst the top four in this industry.

- Spain ranks three business schools amongst the world top 15. Number one for executive education is IESE.

- It’s also a leader in sports business. Real Madrid and Barcelona FC are renowned brands worldwide. Also Nadal, Sergio García, and many others in less “obvious” sports.

And finally, tourism. Yes, tourism is a bit more than welcoming the British to their pint of beer under the sun -and I know many British people that have fallen in love with this country after going a bit further and discovering the wonders Spain has to offer, enjoying its diversity, culture and traditions.

But first things come first. Spain welcomed over 86 MILLION visitors last year (2019). Have you any idea of the degree of the enormous infrastructure, labour, specialisation and coordination, also between different industries, administrations and regulators it takes to manage this volume of visitors in a safe, efficient and “normal” environment? Have you ever imagined what it takes? And we are not only talking about beers on the terrace by the sea. Some of Spain’s cities are amongst the most visited worldwide. Spain as a country is the 2nd most visited globally, the first for holiday tourism and the 3rd for business travellers (congresses, fairs and exhibitions). Spain hast the largest number of World Heritage sites in the world after Italy. It’s the country with the second largest number of protected areas in Europe.

Spain is also home to the Spanish language, spoken by over 500 million people worldwide. Guess how many thousands of students come to Spain every year from all over the world to learn the language.

I’m very sorry about the youngsters without a job along the Costas during the winter. I also grew up in a lovely sunny area, the Costa del Sol. But rather that hang around waiting for the thirsty English to come back to enjoy their beers, I graduated in Málaga university and completed my studies with two Masters degrees in Madrid. I work for a leading winery with seven estates in six main wine appellations managing the exports to over 35 countries. You may have even enjoyed some of our wines back at home in the UK.

Don’t underestimate Spain. What you see on the coasts or who you usually relate to on vacation having a laugh with the friendly waiter is only part of a huge and dynamic infrastructure which is in constant movement. I feel very sorry for those who suffer and struggle through a recession (never have we had one like Covid, this one is terrible), but I must admit I have little sympathy for those who enjoyed the good times at an age they should have been working and studying. Spain is a LOT more than a friendly waiter.

Christian Bungard

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