Business over Tapas nº 479

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Business over Tapas

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

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February 16 2023            Nº 479

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editorial:

 

A couple of new laws in Spain are bringing some confusion and, as it were, teething problems. The Only Yes Means Yes law, designed to help protect women, has caused some rapists and abusers to have their sentences reduced on appeal – maybe by judges hoping to cause political issues, maybe because the law itself was poorly designed – and maybe simply a chance for the PSOE to distance itself from its associate the UP as we slowly approach the elections pencilled in for December (at the latest). We remember that the PSOE also studied the Only Yes Means Yes law and helped to pass it in Parliament, but appearances mean a lot when one is on the campaign trail.

A second law was approved last week by Parliament – the Animal Welfare Law – which is now in debate at the Senate for its final ratification.

This one is on the surface a good thing, awarding protection to our pets and our working animals – while, under pressure from the huntin’ community – excluding both hunting and livestock-guard-dogs and, as a nod to tradition, bullfights. The bible for the outdoorsy types is the magazine called Jara y Sedal and it naturally pulls no punches in its criticism of the new law. On the other side of the equation is the ‘animalist’ political party called Pacma which says the law doesn’t go far enough, with reference to the evident exclusions of protection for hunting dogs and the toros bravos.

In short, the law (which will shortly be published in the State Bulletin), says no commercial sales or private breeding for dogs, cats and ferrets; a brief (free online) dog-handling course for owners and compulsory insurance; no leaving domestic animals without supervision for more than a day (dogs) or three days (other pets); a list of approved-only species for pets; and no wild animals in circuses or parades.

The evident point is that those who are unable to live within these boundaries will likely consider either abandoning or ‘euthanizing’ their spare critters.

Meanwhile, the Northern European residents, who will probably be massively in favour of this law, are busy agitating in the pueblos on the costas for dog-beaches, dogs on the bus and even dogs in the restaurants.

 

Housing:

 

From Spanish Property Insight here. ‘The post-pandemic Spanish housing boom has run its course, as home sales decline 18% in December 2022. There were 59,730 home sales witnessed by Spanish notaries in the final month of 2022, a decline of 18% compared to the previous year, according to figures just published by the notaries association of Spain…’

 

El Confidencial rails at estate agents. Among the various costs a lessee must pay when he signs for a rental, the equivalent of a month’s rent plus IVA goes to the agency, even though it is working for the owner, not the prospective tenant. The article says ‘…Nowadays, the agencies are working to the detriment of the tenant, who is forced to pay for the services that his landlord has contracted. It has been a decision of enormous profitability in the sector, which has gone from just over 11,000 real estate companies in 2014 to the current 55,000, marking seven years of vertical growth…’ The Government is considering reversing this situation – making the owner pay the agency commission.

 

El País looks at the high price of renting a room in someone’s home. It could cost up to 600€ a month says the article.

 

20Minutos brings us ‘the map of the okupas in Spain’. It seems that squatting numbers are down in Madrid and Andalucía, but are rising in Extremadura and Valencia. Generally, says the Ministry of the Interior, figures are slightly down on last year’s numbers. Some okupas live together in a larger ‘squat’ – for example an entire abandoned building taken over – particularly in Barcelona. Such a place is ‘La Kasa de la Muntanya’ – (of all things) an old Guardia Civil barracks. Others live in abandoned bank properties, and others will become a problem for regular second-home owners. Mind you, there are 3,400,000 empty homes in Spain says Expansión here.

Spanish Property Insight says here that while squatting numbers are down, not everyone who owns a house with squatters wants to report the problem to the authorities, ‘…because the Spanish justice system tends to protect squatters at the expense of property owners, so owners do not have a strong incentive to report all cases to the police. Many owners will opt for extra-judicial solutions like paying squatters to leave or hiring one of the squatter-removal outfits to get the job done quicker and cheaper than going through the courts’.

From iNews here comes an incendiary article: ‘Russian squatter gangs target British and Ukrainian homes in Spain. Holiday homes in Spain owned by Brits and Ukrainians are becoming a target for organised gangs, a private eviction service has claimed’. The writer speaks with an agency called Desokupa2 which, for a fee, will rid one of squatters.

Another remarkable story comes from VozPópuli which says that one should keep a (legal) pistol in the house, since the Guardia Civil will immediately remove the squatters if this were the case (Unless, of course, the squatters had already happened upon the firearm hidden over the wardrobe and removed it first. Maybe they could put a sign in the window).

Elsewhere, a local cartoon makes a valid point: ‘When somebody tells you that they know of a home that’s been held by squatters (‘okupas’), in 99 out of a 100 cases what’s happened is that the tenant hasn’t kept up with the rent. And, no that’s not squatting, that’s simply not paying the lease (inquilinos morosos) – but of course that doesn’t sell alarm systems.

 

The Olive Press returns to the scandal of the luxurious, yet sadly unfinished off-plan homes in Manilva (southwest Málaga): ‘Like living in the wild west’: The Otero scandal that has hurt thousands’. A video on YouTube also tells the story.

 

Tourism:

 

Why offer an apartment for rent by the month when you can offer it – for a much higher income – by the day? Thus we have Airbnb. Now several city halls, concerned about the paucity of rentals, want to limit the holiday lets. Maybe Airbnb’s days are numbered.

 

Finance:

 

All are agreed, Spain will continue to grow its GDP in 2023, but the question is – by how much. 20Minutos reports that the European Commission forecasts a growth of 1.4%, while expressing concern about the effect of the rise in interest on Spanish homes. We read: ‘The European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, highlights the contribution of tourism as Spain’s economic “engine”…’

 

The SMI – the minimum wage – was ratified this week into law; and it’s retroactive to the beginning of the year. The minimum wage is now 1,080€ per month in 14 payments (15,120€ per year).

 

From El Mundo here: “It is not easy to be self-employed in Spain and it seems that they do not want us to continue being the engine of employment”. The remarks come from Lorenzo Amor, the president of the Spanish association of autonomous workers (ATA) who says that, due to the rise in the SMI, there will be autónomos who will be obliged to reduce the working hours of their employees’.

 

EuropaPress says that Spain has updated its list of what it considers to be ‘fiscal paradises’ and includes a handy map. Over twenty territories are highlighted.

 

El Mundo (paywall) has a list of the wealthiest people in Spain here. Amancio Ortega leads with 68,590 million euros, followed by Mercadona’s Juan Roig at 11,230 million.

 

Politics:

 

The ‘solo sí es sí’ is such a mess, says the PP leader Feijóo, that we need early elections. Speaking in Seville recently, he said “It matter who governs because it matter who legislates. When a lack of preparation is combined with arrogance, the result is a disaster”. The story at 20Minutos here.

 

The Corner hasn’t much time for the lefties either. ‘Placing successful entrepreneurs and corporate profits as targets of electoral political debate has been part of the agenda of more than a few political parties, especially the most extreme ones, both on the right and on the left. The novelty now in Spain is that the president of the government and of the socialist party is taking up this argument as one of the axes of his narrative. He did so when his colleagues dislodged him from the PSOE leadership and has continued to do so at the head of the government…’ The same site also doesn’t think much of the new animal welfare law – it warns that ‘killing a mouse that sneaks into your house with a broom can carry a penalty of up to 18 months in prison’. This unlikely claim is echoed by VoxPópuli here.

 

20Minutos on the Partido Popular here: ‘In just six months, the PP has gone from defeatism to triumphalism. Hence, its leader asks his people for containment, following the model of Juanma Moreno in Andalucía. With Pedro Sánchez weakened by the latest reforms, with a Ciudadanos on the brink of the abyss and a divided Unidas Podemos, the great stumbling block of the PP is Vox – their potential partner in a future government, a party which also represents everything that Feijóo is trying to flee from towards his ideal of moderation…’

 

The reason why Feijóo has backed down on the abortion issue – around 60% of both PP and Vox supporters are in favour of abortion rights. Across Spain, the figure rises to 80.5% (with 14.7% against and 4.8 indiferente).

 

The motion of censure threatened for a while now by Vox needed only a handy independent character to be the figurehead of a new government. Santiago Abascal thinks he has found one in the unlikely shape of the 89-year-old economist Ramón Tamanes (wiki) – a man who started out as a member of the Partido Comunista de España, through membership in the FP, the IU and the CDS, to his current far-right position. Tamames says he won’t take the Vox shilling unless some other conservative politicians from the PP or Ciudadanos support his – doomed – candidature. The story at ECD here.

 

El Español runs a survey supposing that Yolanda Díaz and her Sumar movement were to run in the next general elections. They say ‘Yolanda Díaz would add 24 seats to the far-left but would subtract 14 from Sánchez and would not do enough to avoid Feijóo’s victory’. Sumar would take 54 seats says the poll, beating Vox into fourth place.

 

A PSOE deputy is one of a dozen people under investigation (or arrest) for a massive fraud operation in the Canary Isles says elDiario.es here. The deputy, Juan Bernardo Fuentes, has been relieved of his seat in Parliament.

 

Catalonia:

 

‘The Supreme Court lifts bans from public office for half of the pardoned referendum leaders. The heads of the mainstream pro-independence parties Jordi Turull and Oriol Junqueras remain disqualified until respectively 2030 and 2031’ says Catalan News here.

 

……

Europe:

 

‘The European Commission has unconditionally authorized the creation of a 25% owned joint venture by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone to be called TrustPid. This joint venture, which will be based in Belgium, is the result of a project launched by Vodafone and led by the four operators. Its objective is to develop a new technological solution for digital advertising, which has already been tested in Germany and is awaiting additional pilots in France and Spain. The marketing plans will be announced soon, but the intention is to make it available to any operator within Europe…’ More at Crast.net here. From Genbeta here, ‘…TrustPid‘s arrival is imminent and will allow the platform to track one’s browsing and thus facilitate personalized advertising…’ (lucky us!)

 

President Sánchez met with President Zelenskyy in Brussels last week and ratified Spain’s “resounding” support for Ukraine, says LaSexta here.

 

From The Guardian here: ‘Revealed: secret cross-party summit held to confront failings of Brexit. Leading Brexiters and Remainers, including Michael Gove and David Lammy, met for two-day ‘private discussion’ with diplomats and business leaders’. The article notes that: ‘…(the meeting) reflects a growing acceptance among politicians in the two main parties, as well as business leaders and civil servants, that Brexit in its current form is damaging the UK economy and reducing its strategic influence in the world…’

 

Health:

 

‘Who would think of mistreating the public health system? Who would think of declaring war on doctors and nurses, doctors and orderlies, just after a pandemic in which they have given us everything and after which we should not be asking them to give up absolutely nothing. Who wants to fiddle with la salud in a society that’s getting ever older? Who thinks it’s a good idea to punish a traumatized profession and more sensitive patients than ever? The answer is simple and it is not personal, it is ideological: it is called liberalism; it is called public-private management; it is called privatization. And yes, this faith has its representatives on Earth: Ayuso, Juanma Moreno, Feijóo and many more’. From elDiario.es’s daily bulletin to subscribers.

What happened this weekend (somewhat underreported by the media, who seem more concerned about a soccer star coming out of the closet) – was a massive demonstration in Madrid against the cuts in the health system. The PP called the demonstration, where hundreds of thousands of people congregated, ‘a clamour from the lefties’.  Público has the story, video and pictures here of the demonstrators on Sunday in Madrid: ‘a million say the organisers, 250,000 says the official count’. (The story goes that the mayor of Madrid called for the town hall cameras to be switched off along the route to confuse the media).

Time also features the demo, saying ‘…Health care workers claim that Díaz Ayuso’s administration spends the least amount per capita on primary health care of any Spanish region even though it has the highest per capita income. They say that for every two euros spent on health care in Madrid, one ends up in the private sector…’

‘Ayuso denied that her administration was dismantling the public health system in favour of private health care. “We all believe in public health,” she tweeted….’ says The Times here.

A short video from La Vanguardia is here (sent by Reader Jake, who was at the protest)

 

La Voz del Sur says that the Junta de Andalucía is preparing a system to pay private health companies to take over the job of primary care. ‘Private’ doctors would then be able to use ‘public’ facilities says elDiario.es here. The likelihood is that private, paying patients would be given precedence over the ordinary ones within the public system (which, as it stands, is slow enough). The private health companies generally pay their medical staff less than the public ones, says Business Insider here. Transparencia, Sanidad y Pensiones explains here that ‘A public hospital is managed by public officials who are subject to requirements such as oppositions, assessed salaries, public service. The purpose of a public hospital is the benefit of the community, the well-being of the people, there are no economic interests.

In a private hospital one of the main objectives is the monetary profit for its owners and partners, logically no public body controls the hiring of personnel. There is no doubt that a good private hospital attracts a wealthier clientele that is willing to spend its money.

The great deception is to finance private hospitals with public money or to privatize or semi-privatize public hospitals, clinics or dispensary care centres…’

 

Corruption:

 

From Maldita here: ‘Have you received an email supposedly from Correos in which they demand 4.80€ for “customs fees”? Be careful, do not provide any information because it is a case of phishing, a practice that seeks to get hold of your personal data and your money’.

 

A PSOE deputy is one of a dozen people under investigation (or arrest) for a massive fraud operation in the Canary Isles says elDiario.es here. The deputy, Juan Bernardo Fuentes, has been relieved of his seat in Parliament.

 

Media:

 

The founder of La Razón (a conservative newspaper) is Luís María Anson (Wiki). In an editorial, Anson writes about Pablo Iglesias. It’s an interesting article, as Anson says that he might not agree with Iglesias, but he certainly respects him. We read: ‘…With Pablo Iglesias you can talk about art and literature, philosophy and science. He is an intellectual who carries a remarkable cultural baggage on his shoulders. He politically made Pedro Sánchez president of the Government, orchestrating a motion of no confidence, which ended with Rajoy in the pickle. After the riots of 15-M (Wiki), he has always been accompanied, to a greater or lesser extent, by the popular vote. He doesn’t try to trick anyone. He is, in short, what you read on the label…’

 

Contrasting in style with Anson, some of the other comments regarding Podemos, Iglesias or his wife which appear in the media, or in the daily pull and push of politics, aren’t so savoury. Público lists a few truly appalling remarks here.

 

It’s one thing to pixelate the face of a child who appears in a news story, or perhaps a villain, or a policeman, or even a passer-by to some news-scene, but what is this? They’ve pixelated here the face of a Rottweiler that attacked a child. What, we won’t recognise it when we see it or something?

 

Ecology:

 

From Xataca here: ‘The first perpetual flight solar aircraft is Spanish and has just completed autonomous flight tests’.

 

Since the end of the ludicrous Impuesto del Sol (a tax on the use of solar energy) in October 2018, the amount of energy created for home use with solar panels has multiplied by 26 times, producing around 1.8% of the total energy consumption. Aside from the evident advantages of solar energy, Energías-Renovables considers the savings for the consumer – figured at some 338€ annually per kilowatt installed. Thus a 4.6Kw installation would save around 1,550€ per annum, depending on the fluctuating costs of traditional energy. The cost of installing such a system however, runs around 7,850€.

 

Various:

 

From The Guardian here: ‘Veteran Spanish film-maker Carlos Saura, director of award-winning films such as Peppermint Frappé, ¡Ay Carmela! and Tango, has died aged 91, the day before he was due to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Goyas, Spain’s version of the Oscars…’

 

From El Mundo here: ‘The Government will give a temporary residence permit to foreigners in an irregular situation who want to enrol in formación profesional studies (vocational training). The objective is to open this training modality to “the entire population” and “make the system more flexible” to improve employability and respond to the needs of certain jobs that companies have and that are not currently covered, as is done in Germany with what they call “tolerated stay or duldung”. To access these papers, immigrants will be required to be living in Spain and to have stayed here continuously for the last two years…’

 

Olive production was way down in Spain last year due to the severe summer and, as Xataca says here, ‘Olive oil is so very expensive in Spain that right now it is actually cheaper to buy it in Australia’

 

The Vox politician Ortega Smith presented a motion in Parliament this Tuesday calling to stop those with a European arrest order from entering into politics in Spain. He was put down by Gabrial Rufián, who reminded him that both he and Santiago Abascal have international arrest warrants against them in Gibraltar. Video and story at El Plural here. Ortega Smith told Rufían (ERC) that Gibraltar was Spanish, so there!

 

At last, the rift between El Cordobés and El Cordobés – father and (illegitimate) son – is over. The two bullfighters have finally reconciled after 54 years says La Vanguardia here.

 

It’s interesting how the Spanish translate foreign names into castellano (whereas the English tend to use the foreign name, warts and all). Consider this headline:  ‘Primera visita de los príncipes Guillermo y Catalina a Cornualles tras asumir el ducado’: The first visit of the Royals William and Catherine to Cornwall after assuming the dukedom.

Luckily, my own name is untranslatable (Heh!).

 

Mojácar, fifty years from now, is excavated by archaeologists. A story of mine about Disneyville at Eye on Spain here.

 

……

See Spain

 

A Do-It-Yourself walking tour of Ronda at Mapping Spain here.

 

Business over Tapas is on Facebook (and I post a few things of interest here and there).

 

Letters:

 

Problems last week with gmail users – even though I always send out the BoT to them on businessovertapas@gmail rather than the lenox@businessovertapas.com address (to stop mail being sent to ‘Spam’).  Last week, the BoT was Red Alerted! Sigh! This week’s edition was sent to gmailers with a pdf rather than an attachment. Let me know if issues persist!

Lenox

 

Finally:

 

The beginning moments of ¡Ay Carmela!, a film from Carlos Saura, on YouTube here.

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