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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 416)

Business over Tapas (Nº 416)

  • 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 08 de octubre de 2021, 01:27h
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Editorial:

The Pandora Papers is a giant hack of information – around twelve million archives – about offshore accounts and the wealthy people who hold them. Those who could be said to be most responsible for contributing towards the improvement of our lives by paying their share in taxes, and failing to do so. Some of the accounts revealed by the leak had previously been closed for one reason or another, but many others remain open.

We read of three current presidents and eleven past presidents from Latin America. We read of some world leaders – such as the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and the King of Jordan, together with former associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin…

We also read about other (more) popular figures with offshore tax-avoiding schemes: Pep Guardiola, Julio Iglesias, Shakira, Elton John, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Claudia Schiffer… and even Tony Blair (Gosh!).

Sometimes even saints are sinners, as we learn that Los Legionarios de Cristo also have (or at least had) a nice little nest egg of 295 million euros quietly stashed offshore.

The investigation comes from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which says in its feature titled ‘Offshore havens and hidden riches of world leaders and billionaires exposed in an unprecedented leak’ that ‘The Pandora Papers reveal the inner workings of a shadow economy that benefits the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of everyone else’, and, between one thing and another, that some US$11,300,000,000 are hidden under a rock (equivalent to nine times the GDP of Spain, for example).

“The new data leak must be a wake-up call,” said Sven Giegold, a Green party lawmaker in the European Parliament. “Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We need to expand and sharpen the countermeasures now.”

In Spain, the primary information is being handled by El País and LaSexta. Thus, we read about Corinna Larsen, Miguel Bosé, Pep Guardiola, Julio Iglesias (more on him here) and, in El País, we look forward to reading more about ‘the opaque business of 600 Spaniards and some 750 offshore companies linked to Spanish interests’.

Not that things end there. In Spain, the 216 companies that invoice more than 1,000 million euros a year pay (in practice, not in theory) a 5.47% tax on their profit. This is up to four times less than the usual tax paid by the ordinary small and medium-sized companies’.

Housing:

The UK share of foreign property market in Spain plunges says The Olive Press here. ‘Brits still make up the biggest group of foreign buyers, accounting for 1,296 home sales in Spain in the second quarter of 2021, but long gone are the days when they accounted for more than twice the sales to any other nationality…’.

From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘Tax deadline approaches for Spanish holiday homeowners’. We read that ‘All non-resident homeowners have to pay tax on their Spanish property by December 31st – even if they have generated no income from it. Spain’s Modelo 210 Non-Letting Tax is levied on non-residents even when their property generates no income from holiday rentals or is not used by the owners and is left lying empty…’.

It will take a while before the regions and town halls adopt the new rules regarding the Government’s star new property law (the PP say it’s a direct attack against private property’ says the ABC with video), but the final ‘watered-down’ agreement between the PSOE and UP brings new rules to rentals. Larger landlords (those with over ten properties) and of course banks are affected and will find their IBI property tax increased on empty properties to encourage them to start renting (or selling). They will also be subject to rent-controls. elDiario.es reports here. The forthcoming new rules are in contradiction to the guarantees recently given by Sánchez to the US vulture funds, says El Español primly. The Junta de Andalucía has already announced that it will not observe the rule which it described as ‘interventionist’.
‘Camposol in Mazarrón is a small city of about 4,000 houses, covering millions of metres, with about 10,000 residents during the summer. Most of the residents in the urbanization are British, with around 30 different nationalities. The problem is that it’s an irregular city from a planning point of view…’. Reporters says that local homeowners have now met with the regional authorities to ask for solutions.

Finance:

Unemployment fell in Spain for the seventh straight month with 76,000 people finding new employment in September. The details at Cadena Ser here.

The CEOE (Spanish business association) says that the number of funcionarios – public servants – has risen by 214,000 since 2019.

La Gaceta says that Hacienda suspects that the Pandora Papers will reveal 38,000 million euros of Spanish money stashed offshore.

From ECD here, ‘Alert in the road transport sector: Spain is short by 15,000 lorry drivers.

The employers’ associations say that the workforce has an average age of 50 years and the generational change is not taking place’.

Tráfico thinks you should trash your old banger and buy a new car. It’s safer, they say.

Some useful tips from Money Saver Spain here: ‘Is It Time To Change Your Spanish Bank?’

From El Español we read that the announcement of the 'signing' of the ex-PSOE regional politician Antonio Miguel Carmona as vice president of Iberdrola is causing more than one shock, especially in the left-wing of the Government, with whom he often argued to justify the high costs of the electric bill. However, the greatest enemy of the former socialist candidate for the mayor of Madrid is none other than himself, as we remember how he argued against the 'revolving door' system. In truth, Carmona was never of much importance within the PSOE and has long held a quarrel with Pedro Sánchez. The Unidas Podemos has now formally asked the PSOE to eject Carmona from his party militancy. Iberdrola meanwhile says it hopes that Carmona will work in improving the reputation of the power company in the eyes of the public.

Politics:

The Partido Popular’s national convention in Valencia is now over. From the final day’s meeting in the Valencia bullring, we read from the PP Party Website that ‘"We are not the replacement of anything, nor the replacement of anyone, we are going out for everyone, because Spain cannot wait any longer," proclaims the leader of the PP before a completely packed bullring in Valencia. "We are prepared. Spaniards can trust us. We know where we are going. We have a plan for Spain. We will be up to the times and we will not disappoint anyone ", says Casado who continued: "Here we are again with our heads held high, our hands clean, our pockets unstained and our hearts in love with Spain"…’.

One of Casado’s rivals – at least in the public mind – is Isabel Díaz Ayuso. As El Mundo says here (with video), Ayuso supports Casado to the hilt and says she won’t seek party leadership: ‘My place is in Madrid’, she said. Another rising name in the PP is the mayor of Madrid José Luis Martínez-Almeida, who received much applause from the congregation: ‘He’s the mayor of the whole of Spain’ they say.

One or two of the special guests during the week-long convention proved to be duds (Sarkozy for example). The ERC leader Gabriel Rufian, always ready with an unkind tweet, says: ‘A corrupt former French president talking about leadership, a lying Spanish former president talking about honesty, a fascist writer talking about democracy, a former PP adviser talking about impartiality and Ayuso talking about companionship. All good background for Casado’.

One remark to be remembered comes from the invited speaker (and Nobel Prize winning author) Mario Vargas Llosa who told his audience ‘The important thing in an election is not having the freedom to vote, but the knowledge to vote responsibly’.

Vargas Llosa is also listed in the Pandora Papers.

Following the successful conference in Valencia, Pablo Casado was invited to speak on the national TV’s Telediario on Monday evening. He said his party was the only alternative to Pedro Sánchez, who’s ‘government is more radical than Hungary or Poland’. The PP’s plan when in office is to reverse all PSOE legislation, he said. InfoLibre says that ‘Casado told thirteen lies in a half-an-hour interview’.

The Government has approved that animals are no longer to be considered as ‘things’, says VozPópuli here. Thus, they are no longer necessarily part of inheritances, embargoes or items for sharing out in divorce cases. The PP and Vox voted against the new law which is now in the Senate for final approval. When the law passes, animals will no longer be sold in pet-shops. Dogs will need to be attended to daily. Wild animals will be banned from circuses, but bullfighting will be allowed. ABC says caustically that the only thing the pet-shops will be able to sell is tropical fish.

The regional government of Castilla y León could be in for a snap election, says elDiario.es, as the PP and minor partner Ciudadanos start to squabble.

Under the intriguing headline ‘OKDiario’s Eduardo Inda: The Pope seems "the representative of the devil on earth (here)" (the Pope had been apologising to Mexico about the Spanish invasion of, oh so many centuries ago)’, fellow-extreme Libertad Digital rounds up the news here including the lowdown on the PP convention held last week in Valencia, where we learn that 76% of PP supporters would welcome a Vox participation in a future PP government (anything to defeat the neo-communism of the present government) and that Isabel Díaz Ayuso and Pablo Casado have buried their differences. (I’ve no idea how I found this).

An essay from Pablo Iglesias at Jacobin here: ‘The Left needs to break the reactionary stranglehold over the Spanish State’.

Andalucía:

From elDiario.es here: ‘Andalusian president Juanma Moreno agrees to an "unprecedented" pact with regional PSOE leader Juan Espadas to protect the stability of Andalucía "whether the government is PP or PSOE". The PP-A recognize "an unprecedented attitude in the PSOE-A" to negotiate, not only the budget of 2022, but a "multi-year" increase in the salary of doctors and teachers. "They are serious, the president is serious," they say. The agreement removes the threat of an early election’.

El Blog Salmón analyses why unemployment has always been high in Andalucía here.

Europe:

We couldn’t resist this one: ‘53% of British people now think Brexit is going badly, poll says, after empty shelves and fuel shortages hit the UK’. Business Insider has the story.

From The Guardian here: ‘‘Only yourselves to blame’: UK’s shortages seen from abroad. The US and European media give their verdict on the fuel, food and labour crisis they say is caused by Brexit’.

The Olive Press speaks to some British ‘Brexit refugees who fled Britain for a new life in Spain’.

From our favourite British newspaper The Express here: ‘Expats leaving Spain in droves: Retired Brits abandon Costa del Sol. British expats are abandoning the Costa del Sol in huge numbers amid a crackdown from Spanish authorities. (I know: what’s ‘a drove’ and where can I get one?) Following this article (and another from The Mirror), 20Minutos has bought in to this improbable claim (‘Los jubilados británicos abandonan la Costa del Sol "en masa" por las reglas de inmigración que impone el brexit’) here.

The Coronavirus:

From El País in English, we read that ‘Experts say the worst of the pandemic is over in Spain, but warn that coronavirus is here to stay. With vaccine coverage at nearly 80% among the population, and a marked fall in hospitalizations, specialists and administrations alike are ruling out any major waves of Covid-19 in the future’.

The seven million Spaniards over the age of seventy will start to receive a third Pfizer or Moderna jab starting this month (except for those living in Madrid) says elDiario.es here.

Off Shore:

The time has come to look at the lawyers and accountants who have participated in bringing their clients to the tax havens says The Conversation here. ‘In some cases we are talking about (illegal) tax evasion and in some cases it is (legal) tax avoidance: the difference comes down to whether the people in question had fully notified the authorities in their home countries about the offshore structures they are using…’ says an expert from London University. El País in English focuses on an Andorran company ‘that handled hundreds of offshore companies for its clients’.

Media:

elDiario.es says the far-right have been busy creating new media-outlets recently. Two new TV channels are planned to begin broadcasting later this year (the apparently different channels La Séptima and 7noticias). ‘Talk-TV is the cheapest there is, we call it the saliva channels’ says a techie, referring to the US Fox News channel. There are 21 TDT open channels in Spain, with Mediaset holding seven of them and Atresmedia with six. Several conservative newspapers are also about ready to roll, including El Debate and The Objective, and there’s a new left-wing one too, to be called El Periódico de España.

Various:

All this new land, created by the lava off the beach of La Palma, belongs of course to the State, as dominio público marítimo terrestre, or public land in the maritime domain. Private properties that are now under the lava (and will remain there) are however still private property, although the State has a kind of preferential right to expropriate them. elDiario.es explains the legal ins and outs here. National Geographic has some dramatic volcano drone footage here. ABC (Tuesday) says that the lava flow into the sea now measures 32.7Ha.

All the stories and scandals around Juan Carlos I are recalled by Público here. Meanwhile, from El Huff Post here: ‘The Prosecutor's Office prepares to archive the investigation on Juan Carlos I. The decision would allow the temporary return of the emeritus to Spain. Even summoning him to testify in court would be ruled out’.

There are several stories circulating about the real cost of the Monarchy to the Spanish tax-payer. A new one has just surfaced, as between 1992 and 1994 the then Nº 2 in the Ministry of the Interior Margarita Robles was obliged to pay 30,000€ (five million pesetas) each month in cash from Secret Funds ‘to leave no trace’ to the Royal Palace. Prior to this time (and afterwards), the Royal money was paid with a cheque drawn on the Bank of Spain. The tidbit comes from the old head of the Spanish Secret Service until 1995 Emilio Alonso Manglano. The item can be found at El Comercio here.

El País in English considers the poor phone coverage in some parts of Spain. ‘…in 2021 there are still expanses of Spain where people can barely use a mobile phone, send a text message or even surf the Internet. For people living in these areas, their experience is likely to be similar to that of the 300 residents of Castronuevo de Esgueva, located just 12 kilometres from the prominent city of Valladolid, where the phone rarely proves itself to be more than an expensive toy in the owner’s pocket…’.

Some villages have far worse issues than low phone coverage. El Español takes us to where the strawberry-pickers live, in the 26 bidonvilles of Huelva, where there is no electric, water or toilets. We only read about them, says the article, when one of them burns down. 3,000 invisible people live in these hellish settlements.

‘The Spanish government is contributing to persecution of Catholics: report’. From ReMix (who is?) comes the improbable tale: ‘Spain, which once evangelized to the farthest corners of the world, is now struggling with a rapid growth in persecution and hatred towards Catholics, according to a new report’.

An old-fashioned Murcia gynaecologist diagnoses a patient’s illness here.

The Spanish magician Jandro fools Penn and Teller for a record fourth time. 20Minutos has the story (and the videoyou should see his other ones) here.

Lenox on La Siesta Española at Eye on Spain here.

See Spain:

‘Astorga (León) is the place where two of Spain's most important cultural routes converge: the Way of Saint James and the Silver Route. With over 2,000 years of history, this city in Castile-León is home to a surprising monumental site, where Renaissance cathedrals and Roman baths jostle with the modernism of Gaudí…’. More at Eye on Spain here.

From Fascinating Spain here: ‘The north of the Iberian Peninsula is full of small hermitages and churches with lots of charm, such as Santa Cristina de Lena. Located on top of a hill and surrounded by a bucolic landscape, it has become a must for those who enjoy discovering the unknown corners of Asturias. Whether you are on holiday in the north of the peninsula or if you want to enjoy the hiking trails of Asturias, undoubtedly the church of Santa Cristina de Lena is a place to visit…’.

Visit-Andalucía takes us underground here. ‘This series is a guide to the natural caves and the mines in Andalucía that are open to the public and worthy of a visit for their cave art, formations or industrial heritage’.

Finally:

The Pandora Papers on YouTube from ABC Australia Public TV here. There’s a shorter video here on the same subject from CBC Canadian Public TV.

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