CLICK HERE for our
FREE Weekly News Bulletin
Spanish News Today weekly round-up 4th April
Spanish property round-up
For once it’s been a relatively quiet week for statistics regarding the Spanish real estate market, and the first item of news catching many homeowners’ eyes will have been the slight rise in payments on mortgages due for their annual review due to the Euribor being higher than it was twelve months ago. The average monthly instalment will increase by no more than a couple of euros, but even so this is the first rise in 25 months and not good news either for owners or for the market as a whole, which needs any extra stimulus for demand it can get.
Apart from that, much attention has been focused on the construction sector. Various sources have been predicting that an upturn in residential property construction is just around the corner, and in many ways this is inevitable at some point since it could hardly go any lower: last year the number of new building licences requested was under 4% of what it was in 2006. However, just when it seemed things couldn’t get any more depressing, they did: newly published figures show that in January 20% fewer licences were applied for than in the same month in 2013. On occasions it seems that the slump will only hit the bottom when absolutely no construction is going on at all in Spain!
One piece of positive news for the sector, though, is that the “bad bank” Sareb plans to complete construction work on 3,000 properties this year. This is part of the master-plan to turn round the fortunes of the bank after it recorded a 261-million-euro loss in 2013: it was formed to sell off over-valued assets at a profit, a job which could be classified as something between difficult and impossible, but a rather better performance will be needed in future if it is to actually achieve the seemingly impossible task it set out to undertake after absorbing a mindboggling glut of repossessed properties formerly belonging to insolvent Spanish banks.
Other Spanish news:
The week began well as the government announced that they had finally sorted out the mechanism for billing electricity in the future and that householders could expect a rebate for the amount overpaid at the beginning of the year, averaging around 30 euros per household.
The good news continued as employment statistics presented positive news, with unemployment finally starting to show a downward trend, although regional budgetary deficit figures are still a cause for concern. Debt at local municipal level is finally starting to show signs of coming under control, as local councils tighten their belts and stop spending, slowly reducing their debts, paying off their local suppliers and starting to ease cashflow at local levels, but the big problem is still the governments own massive debt, which stubbornly refuses to come down in spite of tax hikes and austerity measures ( mainly due to the cost of financing such huge loans). Some of the regions are also struggling to remain within the deficit levels set for them and at the moment Murcia is the worst culprit, with Castilla La Mancha, Aragón, Cataluña, Valencia and Navarra all having exceeded their 2013 targets. Some of these are claiming that an unfair system of regional financing is causing their problems, but central government itself is in no position to start opening the purse strings and handing out more money, and at the moment tax hikes are looking likely in the near future, while further austerity measures must be taken in the regions which are failing to hit their deficit targets.
This is likely to provoke yet more protests on the streets, and although many of those which take place almost on a daily basis fail to interest the media enough to warrant more than cursory coverage, there are still many underlying currents of discontent in spite of the improved employment figures and sprouts of recovery in the economy. Occasionally the protests boil over into violence, as occurred over last weekend, when anti-government and anti-monarchy protests in the major cities got a bit out of hand.
There are still employment problems, amongst them bad news for Coca-Cola workers who refused to accept the redundancy packages and relocation options on offer and found themselves with considerably less than they could have had had they not fought the inevitable and accepted the terms proposed. But there are signs of economic recovery, new projects are being proposed, and maybe there could be some good news for those of us who don´t travel back to the UK very often....M&S are considering a return to Spain with new retail outlets.
However, the top story of the week was probably one of the least significant, as music fans crashed ticketing agencies nationwide, such was the music madness which enveloped Spain as thousands fought to get tickets for the one Rolling Stones concert date on the forthcoming Stones tour.
The Spanish media were also extremely interested in a story about a 14 year old Spanish girl who was banned from playing in the Yorkshire West riding Girl’s football League as she was Spanish and didn´t have the correct paperwork…….as if something so unusual as excessive bureaucracy could cause anyone a problem on this side of the fence!
Staying with fences, 30 illegal immigrants spent most of Thursday perched on top of a fence on the Morocco-Spain border as police battle with the ongoing illegal immigration problem on the frontier between the two countries, and border disputes have kicked off once again on the Gibraltar –Spain border as the British Foreign Office summoned the Spanish Ambassador yet again to highlight their concern over an “incident” in Gibraltan waters this week, to which the Spanish promptly responded by summoning the British Ambassador to Madrid to express their own concerns about the Gibraltar situation.
Police themselves have been under scrutiny following two deaths within the space of just 3 hours in Cataluña, when the Mossos were arresting two different individuals in different parts of the region, both dying during the arrests. An immediate investigation has been opened after criticism that it took over a month for officers to even be interviewed last time this happened in the Autumn.
Other police activity has focused on the burgeoning illegal cigarette trade, although customs say they managed to intercept considerably more contraband last year than in 2012.
Police also had to question how all’s well can end well after a 21 year old girl with no underwear was found in a well in Ciudad Real, while her boyfriend hotfooted it from the scene of energetic love making and left her several meters below the ground in freezing cold water…..
Perhaps the young man concerned had problems with solving practical everyday situations when the well cover gave way beneath him, something which is apparently a problem for many young Spaniards, according to a recent study, although whether this could be linked to the fact that 55% of 18 to 34 year old Spanish youngsters still live at home with their parents is a possible link which could well be open to debate.
Tourism and culture also featured this week, the Brits having spent more than a billion euros in Spain during just the first two months of this year, the Madrid archaeological Museum re-opening, restorers working in the Alhambra discovering evidence of advanced artisan techniques used during the mediaeval period in the palace complex, an artwork by Joaquin Sorolla about to come up for auction, and Granada becoming the subject of the latest Monopoly special.
www.murciatoday.com Murcia Regional news
President Valcárcel resigns, big changes to regional government and Semana Santa begins in Murcia region
This week the news story which will affect most of us in some way, shape, or form took place on Thursday, when Ramón Luis Valcárcel officially handed in his resignation as President of the Region of Murcia, leaving the way clear for Alberto Garre to take over next week after the mandatory period of debate in the regional parliament.
At this stage, how this will change the major projects which affect the expat community is unclear, but the situation at Corvera airport, the future of major tourist projects such as Marina de Cope or the Paramount Park project, and even the future of cultural projects such as the SOS music festival in Murcia are all up in the air, as the new president forms his cabinet for the next legislature. The new president promises austerity and the first thing he is planning to do is cut back on departmental costs by reducing the number of administrations by two, the victims being the vice-presidency of the region and the elimination of the department of culture, tourism and sports, whose responsibilities will be reallocated to other departments.
This means two of the key figures with whom regular readers will be very familiar will go immediately: Juan Bernal, regional finance minister and Pedro Cruz, who has been the man behind the Paramount Park project, the SOS festival and been at the forefront of regional tourism promotion. Also losing ministerial positions are the current head of industrial development José Ballesta, the man who has been working on the problems facing the Corvera airport project, Antonio Sevilla and the current head of the health service. All of which means a new broom will sweep clean and major changes can be expected as the new president tackles the regional deficit, currently the highest in the country, and finds new ways of creating employment.
There are green shoots of optimism across the region this week: important projects which generate work by bringing businesses to the region and foreign investment continue to quietly crunch away at their daily tasks, two examples this week being an agreement to expand the technology park at Fuente Álamo which focuses on bringing high tech businesses to the region, and a trade mission taking Murcian businesses to the United Arab Emirates seeking opportunities. While the construction industry may be languishing in the doldrums in Spain, they’re building like crazy in the Arab states, and Murcia has several businesses which can supply marble, tiles and furniture to these vast and opulent new buildings, improving trade balance figures and creating work.
The announcement at the end of last week that the Portmán Bay Regeneration has finally got a green for go, will also help to create employment, as will other initiatives such as the plan to grow pineapples in Cartagena, and recycle agricultural waste and green materials in the san Javier municipality.
Tourism figures are looking optimistic, and the numbers of unemployed across the region ( and Spain) dropped at the end of February. Next week the beginning of Semana Santa marks the start of the tourist season and an increase in the number of people coming to the region, as cruise ships start to come into port, the railways bring in more tourists ( Cartagena-Madrid by rail is just 20 euros for a special Semana Santa promotion) and new tourist attractions open: this week Águilas has opened a new museum of the sea and aquarium and also a new lift up to the castle, all positive.
Of course there are still issues, as police tackle thieves who carried out a raft of robberies based in Torre Pacheco, face illegal street vendors in Cabo de Palos, and stuff illegal taxidermists in Totana, but other issues are also being resolved as the CHS prepares to dredge the silt and rubbish out of River Segura on its passage through Murcia city, reinforces ramblas in Alhama and says thank you to those who built the Tajo Segura canal network bringing water down into Murcia from the north of Spain, which celebrated its 35th birthday this week. ( Also worth reading the UN report about potential desertification of Spanish coastal regions to understand just how vital this canal network and the currently idle desalination plants along our coastline are to us for the future).
Valencia News www.valenciatoday.es
Over-zealous policemen, embarrassment in Orihuela Town Hall and a murder victim on the beach
Despite last Sunday’s downpours in parts of the Comunitat Valenciana there are a few sure signs that the warmer weather is now with us as, rather like the first cuckoo in the UK, here in the Costa Blanca there are certain phenomena which always seem to accompany the arrival of spring. One of these is the buoys being put in place to mark out the areas reserved for bathers on the beaches, as has been happening this week in Pilar de la Horadada, while on the darker side the region’s first swimming-pool death this year occurred in Jávea on Monday. The victim this time was just three years old, and every summer the news is littered with similar tragedies: last year in Europe there were around 650 similar incidents every day of summer.
With the arrival of warmer weather the numbers of tourists visiting the Costa Blanca goes up, and it has been announced this week that low-cost airline Vueling is going to be offering 35% more flights linking Alicante-Elche airport to destinations all over Spain and the rest of Europe. Already this year the region has received more visitors than in the first few months of last year and a bumper year is expected for the tourist sector, but in spite of visitor numbers rising the amount of money spent by foreign tourists in Valencia has fallen in comparison to last year. No doubt that trend will be reversed once the season really gets under way!
At the same time those looking to get away from the area for a day or two and visit the Balearics will be pleased to learn that more ferry services from Alicante and Denia are to be set up, making a quick getaway to the islands a cheap and easy possibility.
More good news for motorists this week: recently the price of petrol has been going down, and now the cost of the ITV vehicle roadworthiness test has also dropped in the Comunitat Valenciana, where until now it has been one of the highest in the whole of Spain. Not that any of this will be of interest to the driver who was clocked at 237 km/h on the AP-7 while under the influence of alcohol: it has to be assumed he won’t be driving for a while…
On the cultural front, the trencadis on the Palau de les Arts ought to be fully repaired in the near future, and the city of Elche has made a formal request for the 2,000-year-old bust of the Dama de Elche to be returned to its rightful home.
In Torrevieja there are a number of upset locals complaining that the local police are being too strict in their law enforcement duties, and some suspect they are trying to make a point regarding their new shift timetables.
Next door in Orihuela the news is centred around a woman who was awarded 8,000 euros in damages from the Town Hall after she tripped on uneven paving seven years ago, and as well as paying up on this account the local council will also be shouldering legal costs as result of their failure to pay 17,000 euros to a beach-cleaning company. The reason for this is apparently that they lost the invoices, although of course, this is always down to the previous administration......
Pilar de la Horadada shoppers will be delighted to learn that local retail outlets are to be allowed freedom of opening hours in the coastal areas, including La Torre de la Horadada, but at the start of the week most coastal residents’ attention was focused on the washed-up body of a presumed murder victim which appeared on the beach of La Zenia. The first indications are that this could have been a revenge killing.
Finally, anyone walking into Bunyol during the week could have been forgiven for thinking that an even worse disaster had struck the town. Hundreds dead and missing, thousands injured, rubble everywhere and emergency services hunting for survivors… fortunately this was just a simulation of a severe earthquake, created as a training exercise for members of the armed and civilian forces who would be called into action if such an event really did occur.
Click for this weeks currency round up showing the exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro. If you would like a free quote to see how much can be saved on regular currency transfers such as a pension, or one-off lump sums such as the purchase of a property, call for a no obligation quote.
Did you enjoy this round-up?
If you enjoyed this free weekly round-up, then please support it by forwarding it on to your friends. If you have received this from a friend and would like to have it sent directly, then click Register for weekly bulletin to sign up.
We GUARANTEE your details will not be passed on, sold, or used for any other purpose, and are maintained in an isolated off-site facility from which you can unsubscribe at any time.
Images: Copyrighted Murcia Today and Efe. Full or partial reproduction prohibited.
Cádiz Province, Andalucia
Granada Province: Andalucia
Huelva Province, Andalucía
Jaén Province, Andalucia
Málaga Province, Andalucía
Region of Andalucia
Seville Province, Andalucía
Córdoba Province, Andalucia
Autonomous Community of Galicia
Castilla La Mancha
Castilla y León
Airlines and Travel SpainCaso BárcenasCaso NóosEbola SpainGibraltarProperty in SpainRodrigo Rato BankiaSareb, Bad Bank, Banco MaloSpanish separatism/ETATourism SpainWeekly Bulletin Spanish NewsWeekly Bulletin Spanish Property