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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nbr 429)

Business over Tapas (Nbr 429)

  • 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

jueves 20 de enero de 2022, 19:10h

20ENE22 – MADRID.- 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. Subscription and e-mail information in our archives is never released to third parties.

Editorial:

One thing that the pandemic highlighted was the lack of protection in the residencies, the care-homes for seniors.

Responsibilities were eventually pointed at everyone except those responsible, as often happens here, and some changes were (we hope) made, although a story this week of 34 of the 39 seniors in a centre in Santiago de Compostela infected with Covid and, we read, left in their own waste for twelve or thirteen hours each night (here) doesn’t inspire much confidence. Who is responsible for that?

José Antonio helps with BoT from his own room in a residence down in Málaga. He says that the issue is the people who come through the door – delivery men, gardeners, visitors – all capable of bringing infection with them. Then, it’s also the case, he says, that old people don’t shake off bugs like younger people do; and furthermore, they aren’t very good at keeping their masks on properly.

There’s also, of course, the funding – often subject to sad but no doubt necessary economies: particularly in PP bulwarks. We know that most residences will take some social security patients, while other ‘private’ clients will be paying something around 1,700 to 2,000 euros a month.

We are assured that the Spanish (unlike their northern neighbours) always prefer to keep the old ones at home with them, and this may be partly true, but now with less time or the whole family working or the space needed (as the kids just won’t leave home), the attractions of an old folks’ home may, however unwillingly, become the solution.

Many years ago, I was working on a project (with our old friend Per Svensson) to introduce a different kind of nursing home in Spain. The idea at the time was for a wealthy Nordic town hall – we were looking at Bergen – to build their own residence in Spain as the costs would be cheaper than in Norway and the patients would be pleased. The proposal was to build apartments which belonged to the foreign town hall but were leased for life to the residents (either private or social security) – and with a spare room to keep their families happy.

We looked at one location in Almería, I remember, which was close enough to the shops and the bars for the residents to egress from their rooms when the fancy took them.

This week, El País in English features such a place in Alicante’s Alfaz del Pi, the magnificent Forum Mare Nostrum (here) and says that there is now plans from foreign companies for others to be built. A small heads-up: the El País article has this line: ‘…To live in Forum Mare Nostrum, residents must make an advance payment of between €100,000 and €230,000 and pay monthly rent, which ranges from €350 to €950…’.

I checked with another such centre down (these days, you look something up, and along comes a slew of advertisements on a similar subject) in Benalmadena (Málaga) called Sensara (here) which is clearly not cheap, but it looks pretty nice.

Another idea for seniors is to pool their money and build/open their own purpose-made residence, sometimes called cohousing (which is explained here). A page for cohousing in Spain is here and an example of one from Google is ‘…an affordable cohousing home for the 50plus generation…’ called Espadevida (it’s near Mojácar, Almería) here.

Perhaps one of those 2,800 empty hamlets scattered across Spain could be re-bored into a retirement village. Perhaps they could refit the doomed Hotel Algarrobico into another.

All fine, if either granddad or the family has the money; if not, it may be back to the residencia where things will not be as bright (especially as one’s comprehension of Spanish may begin to recede with age and deafness and who knows the embarrassing words that indisposed seniors may find that they would suddenly need in a small emergency…)?

The Spanish residencies won’t have English-speaking staff (or TVs) and there may be a call to find a better answer for the foreign residents.

After all, sending them ‘home’ is, I think, a sad solution.

Lenox dixit

Housing:

A worrisome story from Spanish Property Insight here: ‘By Nok promoter of La Boladilla Village Resort in Estepona leaves investors in the dark and fearful for their money’. It’s an off-plan project that appears to have gone belly-up, taking many investors with it. It could be down to planning issues says the article. Writer Mark Stücklin ends by noting, ‘It just goes to show that, when looking for property for sale in Spain, always have to be sceptical of companies offering below market prices and high returns. That always means more risk’.

A warning from Right Casa here: ‘In a post-Brexit world, things move quickly and rules change regularly. This is particularly true when it comes to driving between the UK and Spain, where Brexit-related driving changes are introduced on a seemingly monthly basis. During 2022, a new change is set to be introduced: an extra licence will be required for British licence holders who wish to bring a van or large car trailer into Spain, or any other EU country…’. A reader says: ‘This is somewhat misleading, only vehicles being used for hire and reward need an Operator’s Licence for vehicles over 2500kgs. The normal person hiring a van or using a work van etc to bring in his own goods has no issues with this as they are out of the scope’.

Another warning, this time from Maldita here: ‘Beware of CN Inmobiliaria: the new ghost apartment rental agency that intends to get hold of your money’. A few others from Maldita are Rentames, Alquiler Apartamentos Isl, HabitaRent, Inmobiliaria Alquilapisos, Temporent Canarias, Rentals Home, Inmobiliaria Rents ALQ, Inquilax Inmobiliaria and Rentex. The deal is, you have to communicate with them via WhatsApp (the owner is deaf, doesn’t have a phone etc). The victim is asked to pay a small deposit before seeing the apartment. The adverts will often appear on a reputable site like Milanuncios.

Tourism:

Fitur began on Wednesday and will run until the end of the week. From Antena3 (with video) here ‘…All hopes pinned on the Madrid tourist fair. The tourism sector expects that Fitur will reactivate the industry. The hoteliers insist that tourism has shown that it coexists safely with the new reality derived from the pandemic. The Ifema venue in Madrid will host some 90,000 people, 60,000 of them professionals over the five days of the fair, with the last two days intended for the general public, as usual…’. Exeltur calculates that 2022 will bring tourist activity back to around 87% of pre-Covid 2019 levels says The Corner here.

Finance:

The system for the monthly payment from the self-employed will be changed in the future – based on one’s income. elDiario.es has the full plan here.

The delivery cyclists (and scooter-people) were being underpaid and treated as self-employed (i.e. the companies weren’t paying social security or giving them contracts). A law last August called the Ley Rider (aquí) was introduced to protect these workers. The unsurprising result was that several companies disappeared overnight. From The Objective here, we find: ‘The failure of the 'Ley Rider': 10,000 unemployed (a third of the pre-August figures), almost no new hirings and an inevitable shortage of delivery-people. The companies have adopted various formulas to avoid or bend the regulations and only a small part have improved the working conditions of their employees’.

The Government has taken over control of the Sareb – ‘the bad bank’ which holds all of the huge ‘toxic’ debts from the 2008 crisis – says El Economista here. Thus, the State will hold the debt of 35,000 million euros and other participators like the Santander, CaixaBank, Sabadell and so on, are quietly moved out of the picture having written-off their participation. The Banco de España will supervise the activities of the Sareb.

In the event of winning the next elections, says El Español, ‘Pablo Casado plans to lower five taxes to reduce tax pressure by 10,000 million. The Partido Popular says that it wants to compensate citizens for their loss of purchasing power and they would offer companies a more competitive tax environment’. The money saved would no doubt be noticed by those who rely on the government for services. The article has a paywall, but we read elsewhere that "The PP proposes to lower social contributions for young people, the long-term unemployed and the self-employed, in order to reactivate job creation, and keeps its proposal on the table to reduce the electricity bill by more than 7,000 million euros. The tax reform proposed by the PP seeks to ensure that each taxpayer pays an average of 700 euros less per year in taxes" (newsletter Mientras Dormías).

Politics:

Pablo Casado was in a cow-farm recently – a smallholding, not a macro-granja – banging the drum for the defenestration of Minister Garzón. From RTVE (with video) here. We read ‘The president of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado, has once again asked the President of the Government this past Friday for the dismissal of the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, due to the controversy of the macro-farms while claiming that his party defends "all the livestock in Spain", and ensures that in the intensive livestock farms "animals are neither mistreated nor do they pollute". El Plural accuses Casado of ‘double standards’ here: ‘Casado, who accumulates tours of Europe insulting the government, accuses Garzón of undermining the Spain brand (Marca España). The PP insists on the hoax about the macro-farms and argues that its criticism of Sánchez does not affect the image of the country’.

The odd thing is – according to PSOE research – that the Garzón macro-granjas scandal would bring another couple of seats in the Castilla y León regional elections to Unidas Podemos, while the tepid anti-Garzón rhetoric from the PSOE would lose it some five seats.

Not that the Garzón ‘polemica’ isn’t rebounding against the PP as well. Público looks at the fallout here. Certainly, anyone who is in competition with a macro-corporation knows how hard it is to compete.

One of the parties likely presenting a candidature for the Castilla y León elections is the España Vaciada. In Valladolid, the enthusiasm is such, that fourteen of the eighteen candidates on that province’s list are ex-Ciudadanos militants. We are reminded that Ciudadanos was in a junior partnership in the regional government before being summarily ejected by the PP regional president in December. elDiario.es has more here.

The regional elections for Andalucía have been put forward, says ECD here, to June.

Europe:

From SchengenVisaInfo here: ‘Official: EU makes Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates valid for only 9 months from February 1, 2022’.

From our favourite British newspaper: ‘Lord Frost exposes how the EU really sees the UK – as the bloc is invested in making Brexit fail’. The Express here (that’s not to say that they are necessarily wrong).

Health:

The management of casualties due to Covid is overwhelming the primary care doctors, with up to 100 appointments a day and even eight patients being called at the same time. Family doctors warn that the administrative processing of Covid casualties is being prioritized over clinical care: "We no longer do primary care, we do what we can". elDiario.es reports here.

‘Spain has been in the grip of the sixth wave of coronavirus infections with the number of cases soaring in the run up to Christmas and over the festive period. But for the first time in two-and-a-half months, the data shows a drop in new infections suggesting that the current wave of infections has plateaued and will begin its downward trend says The Olive Press.

We wouldn’t have believed this one, only, it comes from El País here: ‘A judge argues that health workers should "sacrifice their right to life and integrity, even without masks, for the benefit of the life and integrity of the rest of the population during the pandemic". The controversial sentence of a court in Jaén dismisses the demand of the nurses who called for more protection measures from the Junta de Andalucía during the first wave of Covid-19’. In the Valencian Region, another sentence had a different outcome, with the regional health authority there being told to pay out between 5,000 and 49,000 euros to Alicante health staff from the same time. In Jaén, 30% of the health staff there (mainly front-line nurses) fell sick from Covid following the first wave.

Courts:

For those following the Operación Kitchen story, EPE brings us ‘The Prosecutor's Office corroborates the "clear participation" of the former Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernández Díaz in the espionage against Luis Bárcenas (Wiki)’.

Media:

Público says that – once again – not a squawk from the right-wing newspapers regarding the dropping of all charges against Podemos for their ‘solidarity fund’ – an item which received front-page treatment in the ABC, El Mundo and La Razón back in August 2020.

The main news items over the past few weeks that got swamped by the Garzón story are helpfully listed by elDiario.es here.

The Express - a truly sorry British newspaper – has an article called ‘‘‘Horrendous!’ British expat shares why he ‘hates’ living in Spain - ‘wish I never moved'. Most British expats move to Spain to enjoy a better lifestyle. However, one expat can't wait to get back to Britain and now "hates" living in Spain’. It tells the story of the unfortunate ‘Nick Anders’.

Remarkably, the same Nick Anders and his ‘I Hate Spain’ appears in a Swedish blog from 2013 here (and appears to come from an even earlier source).

Ecology:

From Cadena Ser here: ‘The EU recognizes the "problem" of macro-farms and prefers to support "small and medium-sized farms". The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, insists that "Spanish meat has the same quality as other European meats", but points out that on smaller farms "it is easier to ensure good standards of animal welfare" and "achieve the sustainability of the production"…’.

‘Twenty neighbours against 9,600 pigs: a new macro-farm puts a small town in Lleida on alert. The residents of El Canós, a picturesque medieval municipality, are organizing to prevent the installation of an intensive livestock complex a few meters from a protected area’ says elDiario.es here. The thing is – those big piggy farms are smelly!

Various:

One of those stories we are all familiar with. Money was collected for the poor folk from Palma following the eruption there. While some has now arrived, much ‘remains in the bank gathering interest’ says the Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen charity.

The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida (PP), has invited – if the government allows – the Serbian tennis champ Novak Djokovic to come and play at the Mutua Madrid Open (Wiki) to be held from April 26th to May 8th. El Español has the story here. However, El Huff Post says that Pedro Sánchez was quick to return the serve: ‘Not without his shots he ain’t’.

La Asociación Católica de Propagandistas (needless to say, a far-right Catholic organisation) claims that ‘…the Government seeks to "impose a change of mentality" with laws such as those of marriage equality, abortion or euthanasia and it criticizes the fact that politics now defines what is good and what is bad’. elDiario.es introduces them here. One of their recent campaign of posters is here (‘It’s good to pray in front of an abortion clinic’).

La Razón finds out how La Alhambra has managed to survive various earthquakes over the centuries. The famous complex began as a castle in the ninth century called AlHamra (‘the Red’ in Arabic), being the colour of the earth used in its construction. It’s all down (of course) to the foundations together with sound architectural design.

BBC Travel has an interesting article about Spain’s least-known language: Aranese. It’s rather fun (though I had trouble opening the article, but then, I have a very slow Internet service).

Eye on Spain has an interesting post about Chris Stewart, the one-time drummer for Genesis who has lived for many years in the Alpujarras.

La Desbandá was the famous trek taken by 120,000 refugees, under the guns of the Nationalists, as they fled from Málaga to Almería along the coastal route in February 1937. Many stories have been written about this tragic chapter in Spain’s history. Here’s one of interest – the lighthouse keeper who turned off his ‘lamp’ for two nights running to confuse the artillery. Let’s raise a glass to Anselmo Vilar (who was promptly shot by the Fascists) and his lighthouse in Torre del Mar. La Opinión de Málaga has the story here.

Medina Azahara is a famous rock group from Córdoba active since the early seventies. They have just come out with a new record – a homage to Triana (the famous Seville band from the same era) and their song-writer, the late Jesús de la Rosa – called Llegó El Día. The lead-song is on YouTube here. El Diario de Cádiz brings the write-up here. Tu Frialdad is another nice song from the album here.

See Spain:

‘Belalcázar Castle has the honour of being the tallest castle in all of Spain thanks to its 47 metre high keep. It is located in the town of the same name in the province of Córdoba. Its situation, totally strategic, is in the middle of a communicative artery between Toledo, Seville and Córdoba. This imposing Gothic-military style fortification is also known as the Gafiq or Gahete or Sotomayor and Zúñiga Castle. Names that tell the story of these ancient remains…’. España Fascinante has the lowdown here.

Faustino likes to visit empty abandoned villages in Spain. So far, he has called on over 1,100 of them. His interview is here and his blog Los Pueblos Deshabitados is here.

Put a smile on your face to review some blue landscapes of the Spanish geography here with Fascinating Spain.

How up to date this is, I don’t know. I originally wrote it a few years ago. It’s a piece about the Mini Hollywood cowboy film set and zoo outside Tabernas (Almería).

Letters:

Hi Lenox,

Nice to have you back...

A great round up!

Jon Clarke

Finally:

A reader sends us this fine piece from Colombia – Alberto Barros (er, with some friends) with Endúlzame Que Soy Café (Amor Sincero) on YouTube.

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