Archive for Spanish Government

Catalonia

Posted in America, Britain, Demonstration, England, European Union, Government, News, Politics, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 23/12/2017 by floroy1942

Why should Catalonia want separation from Spain? It has been a part of Spain for hundreds of years and yet now it wants to separate from the rest of the country. The vote taken just a few days ago shows that a very small majority want to see the province separate from the rest of Spain and become an independent state. Why?

It is all down to the the exiled President Puigdemont who wants to rule the province on his own. Currently he is exiled in Brussels, but still he doesn’t give up fighting for an independent state in which he will be head of the government.

There are so many people in the world who want to have total control over countries, and this is not good for the people.  We see this everywhere, for there is fighting in many lands led by people who want to control their countries. So many people are addicted to power, and this is not good.

I believe the whole world is going mad, for we have so many people who lust for power. Puigdemont is one these people, and who knows what the outcome will be. Rajoy, the leader of Spain is steadfastly against the separation of Catalonia.

Most people in Catalonia really don’t know how things will turn out if they get independence, for it is certain that they will go downhill if they achieve this. The whole province relies on tourism as a means to make it wealthy, and if the numbers drop they will be in dire straits.

Catalonia is the richest province in Spain, and who knows what effect this will have on the rest of the country. Apart from tourism, which is the main source of income for the country, there is not much else that keeps the country afloat. If tourism were to end, and those who have bought houses and flats sell out and go somewhere else, there will not be much left of Spain, for it will be a poor country.

Already we see many of the young moving to other countries trying to get a job, for there is very little in the country in the way of employment. For sure, in the summer months there are waiters and cooks who serve in restaurants and cafe’s, but when winter comes many of these are shut down. During the winter the unemployment statistics are sky high.

Spain is a country the relies greatly on tourism for the health of it’s economy, and should the figures fall the country will be in dire straits. All the most popular places in Spain are the coastal resorts where people can lie on the beaches, but this does not say much for the inland cities and towns. Most of Spain’s wealth comes from the coastal cities and towns which the tourists frequent the most.

If Catalonia does become an independent state Spain will suffer significantly.

Roy.

Some Reasons for Spain’s Economic Difficulties

Posted in Benefits, Budget Cuts, Europe, European Union, Government, Government Spending, Politics, Spain with tags , , on 29/11/2013 by floroy1942

I learned today how the Spanish people are being bled dry by their inept government. It is staggering to hear that companies are being screwed by having to pay a massive 45% social security on every salary they pay out to their staff. The effect on the country’s employment rate is incalculable.

Spanish Unemployment

Spanish Unemployment

It has put most companies in an impossible position, in that they cannot afford to hire new workers because of this huge amount from each salary that goes to the government. Likewise, people are in desperate straits trying to exist on the small pay they receive because it costs the companies too much to give them a living wage.

As you can imagine, companies are loath to take on new workers due to this huge tax burden, and this I believe is one of the reasons for the huge unemployment levels in  the country.

House of Horrors

House of Horrors

The governments point of view I suppose is they consider this move necessary to cover the huge cost of unemployment benefit, which the figures show has gone through the roof in recent years. It seems the government fails to see that if they made it easier for companies to hire more workers, the unemployment figures would tumble and therefore cost them less in benefits. It’s a simple question of balance, and the government is way off line.

Even though unemployment benefit in Spain is meagre by anyone’s standards, and barely enough for an average family to live on, people are only entitled to it for a maximum of two years, after which time they get nothing.

At Wits End

At Wits End

Another atrocious rule from the government is that governing pensions. From what I have been told, you must work and pay into the system for a minimum of 25 years to qualify for a pension. In effect, this means you could be working for 24 years and when you retire you would get nothing. Most other countries pay out a percentage for the years you have paid into the scheme, i.e. if you pay in for 50% of your working life you get a 50% pension. But not Spain, its 25 years or nothing. This is scandalous in anyone’s language and has a dramatic effect on everyone.

I will freely admit to not being an economist, but one of the glaring questions over this governments policies is: Where does all this money go?

The Spanish people certainly don’t see any of it in improvements to the infrastructure or their living conditions. As a single example, many roads in Spain are in atrocious condition but not a single penny is spent on improving them. Wages have been stagnant for several years but prices for everything continue to rise at an alarming rate. Spain still has a huge debt that will take many years to overcome, and the entire economy is constantly on the verge of collapse.

P.M. Rajoy - Also Accused Of Corruption

P.M. Rajoy – Also Accused Of Corruption

Only one thing that is certain, and that is the rich will continue to get richer, and the rest will continue to suffer for some time. There is little doubt that all the corrupt politicians, both at government and local level, will continue to skim off their percentage until strong action by the law takes place and these people are sent away for a long time.

As a bystander, it seems to me this country has one of the most inefficient governments in Europe, and things will not get better in the foreseeable future. As one Spanish politician is quoted as saying recently, “The Spanish people work more hours per week than any other nation in Europe, but they also have the lowest productivity!” There has to be a message there. I wonder if anyone will take notice?

Roy.

The Gibraltar Controversy

Posted in Britain, Conservative Party, David Cameron, England, Europe, Human Rights, Modern World, Spain, UK, World War 2 with tags , , , , on 10/08/2013 by floroy1942
Gibraltar At Night

Gibraltar At Night

I was happy to hear this last week that David Cameron has once again told the Spanish that Britain will not give up Gibraltar. I find it totally ridiculous that countries like Spain and Argentina consistently make ridiculous claims for ‘return’ of territory they have not had control of for many hundreds of years.

The peninsular first became part of Spain following the collapse of the Roman Empire but was overrun by the Muslim Moors in 700 A.D. It was annexed by the Christian Kingdom of Castile in 1309 but was once again lost to the Moors in 1333 who ruled until 1462 when it was again recaptured by the Spanish who remained in control until 1704 when it was captured during the War of Spanish Succession by an Anlgo-Dutch fleet in the name of  Charles VI of Austria who was  the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. When the war ended the territory was ceded  “in perpetuity” to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. It has been a British possession ever since then.

Guarding the Rock - WW2

Guarding the Rock – WW2

Thereafter, Gibraltar was besieged and heavily bombarded during three attempts by the Spanish to regain it but all were repulsed effectively. In fact, Gibraltar has faced fourteen sieges within the last five hundred years. Although attacked by German, Italian and Vichy French forces during the Second World War all were withstood. The last major attempt at subduing the people of Gibraltar was during the Franco era when he cut off all communications and sealed the border between 1969 and 1985. This also failed.

Cueta and Melilla - Spanish Territory In Morocco

Ceuta and Melilla – Spanish Territory In Morocco

So you see, this tiny peninsular of land has had more than its fair share of problems, but despite them all the people have never been defeated. During the last war it became a major Navy base for British fleets operating in the Mediterranean Sea, but today it has little strategic importance. However, it is as British as the UK with its red double-decker buses, red phone boxes and British traditions. For this reason I applaud the stance of our Prime Minister in telling the Spanish that so long as the people of Gibraltar want to stay British they shall have that right. I think it also behoves him to remind Spain’s Prime Minister, Rajoy, that Spain also has two enclaves in Morocco called Ceuta and Melilla that belong to Spain which they steadfastly refuse to hand back. They too are similar to Gibraltar in that they are on the coast near the narrows.

Gibraltar

Gibraltar From The Air

The reason this whole saga has hit the headlines is because the government of Gibraltar placed large blocks of concrete in the bay in Gibraltar’s territorial waters to deter Spanish fishermen  who regularly fish in them. The methods they use are particularly bad for the ecosystem because they trawl the seabed with nets that destroy the habitat of many species of sea creatures. The Spanish have been known for years for their ‘rape of the sea’, they even fish in North Sea waters and don’t give a fig for legal boundaries. Quotas mean little to them and they have put the fishing fleets of many countries out of business. I remember when the port of Grimsby in the UK had one of the largest fleets in the country, but now there are but a few boats left.

Qeues Waiting To Leave Deliberately Caused By Spanish Customs

Queues Waiting To Leave Deliberately Caused By Spanish Customs

But apart from all that there is the question of the sovereignty of Gibraltar. It has been in British hands for more than three hundred years as a result of a treaty the Spanish signed themselves, so what gives them the right to demand it back. Just supposing they did get it back, what then? In my view it would deteriorate into a useless hunk of rock at the southern end of the country. Living in Spain for many years has given me an insight into the way these people think, and I can say with utmost certainty that if it became Spanish, the Gibraltar tourist trade would dry up within a couple of years and given a few more years would look just like the other side of the border.

Inside' The Rock' Caves

Inside’ The Rock’ Caves

My wife and I go to Gibraltar regularly from Marbella and pass through La Linia which is the Spanish town on the border with Gibraltar, and I have seldom seen a more run-down place in all my life. Just driving through it is depressing. Much of the population in this small town work in Gibraltar and if wasn’t for this they would all be in big trouble. Practically every shop you go to in Gibraltar has Spanish staff, and as you walk the streets you hear Spanish spoken ten times more than English.

The "Britishness" Of Gibraltar

The “Britishness” Of Gibraltar

Gibraltar does have a certain charm with its quaint single shopping street, where incidentally most of the businesses are run by Indians or Pakistani’s, but it’s also the very ‘Britishness’ of the place, in many ways its like the UK used to be. The peninsular has an area of just 6.5sq.kms with a population of slightly under 30,000, and much of the land on the western side was reclaimed from the sea where now stand large blocks of apartments.

What visitors to Gibraltar have to endure:

The Apes Of Gibraltar - The Best Thieves On The Peninsular

The Apes Of Gibraltar – The Best Thieves On The Peninsular

It is a bustling place with many attractive tourist sites like the limestone caves and the Barbary apes that inhabit the summit. It has very nice beaches and is in many ways a nice place to visit. On top of all that it is a tax-free haven which the tourists, and I might add most of the Spanish locals, like very much. Everything considered, I am glad that successive UK governments have steadfastly refused to accede to Spanish demands that it be handed back, for it is as British as fish and chips and must remain so.

Roy.

An English Residents View of Spain’s Economic Woes

Posted in Britain, Budget Cuts, England, Europe, Government Spending, Spain, UK with tags , , , , on 31/12/2011 by floroy1942

Just about the whole world knows Spain has major economic problems at the moment, which makes it no different from the rest of Europe. Each country has its own reasons for the current state of its economy, Greece because it fiddled the books, Portugal and Italy because they  just spent too much etc etc. the list goes on. As someone who has lived in Spain for four years, I believe Spain’s problems are caused by something other than just spending too much.

Spain's GDP Takes a Nosedive

I freely admit I am no economy expert, but judge things more on what I see from day to day – the nitty-gritty analysis I leave up to the experts. As someone who has observed life in Spain from the sidelines as it were, in my opinion, most of the problems in this country are caused by three main things; 1. An ineffective government, 2. major corruption and 3. massive inefficiency.

Zapatero - What Could I Have Done Better? - Everything!

Under Zapatero’s government it seemed as though they were not interested in governing and solving the countries problems, just sitting in their ivory towers in Madrid and talking, which is something the Spanish are very good at. Ask someone on the street the time, and you end up in a half-hour one-sided conversation. They love the sound of their own voices!

Rajoy - A New Broom - Let's Hope So!

In just about all respects, the Zapatero government were a waste of space. Whether the new guy on the block Rajoy will be any better we must wait and see. But whoever is in charge, Spain needs a governing body that will be seen to actively tackle the root problems, and most important, keep the public informed on how and why!

Marbella Council Members In Court For Corruption

Spain’s second major problem has been around since the seventies, and that is corruption. Here in Marbella practically the entire local council was arrested a few years ago for massive corruption running into hundreds of millions of euro’s since 1991. This went all the way from the mayor down through city hall. Many of the corrupt officials are now in prison but the courts are still trying to track down the massive amounts of money that were siphoned off, and they are not getting very far.

Highly Dangerous A7 Between Marbella and Fuengirola

The results of the fraud can be seen everywhere in Marbella in rundown buildings, broken road surfaces and a generally poor infrastructure. The effects of this have been far reaching, for example, the street lights along a twenty kilometer stretch of the most dangerous motorway in southern Spain (A7 E340) have recently been switched off because two local councils don’t want to be the ones having to pay for the electricity.

The Shrinking Beaches

Every year beach sand is washed out into the Med but has for some time not been replaced because of cost. This means in effect that beaches along some stretches of coast between Marbella and Fuengirola are shrinking to the extent there is not much left when the tide is in. Eventually this will have a major impact on tourism, which lets face it, is Spain’s bread and butter for it doesn’t have any heavy industry apart from the building trade. Its only other real source of income is the agriculture sector.

An Unfinished Dream Home

The building trade, which has flourished ever since it began in the 1960’s suddenly died in 2008 due mainly to the banking crisis and the collapse of the mortgage market. This whole stretch of coast is marked by half-completed buildings that may never be finished.

 

Living on a Hillside

Realising back in the 60’s that tourism was a major winner, they have over the years built on almost every patch of open ground capable of taking a block of apartments or a villa (plus some that are not) and it has proven a major money winner for the country.

Demolishing Someone's 'Illegal' Dream Home

The Marbella council members made much of their illicit money in kickbacks for allowing builders to flout the existing building laws, and so currently, many people who bought their dream villa or apartment and moved lock, stock, and barrel to the Costa have had their home torn down because they were built illegally. This has happened to many over the past three years and even pensioners have been left on the pavement with their furniture. Now things are being handled in a more humane way and many such places will eventually be made legal. The builders guilty of the corrupt practices have of course pocketed the money and are long gone.

The sad thing is, the Spanish government did nothing to curb all these excesses, and the massive criminality associated with the building trade. Some people living in England put down vast sums of money to have a Spanish company build them a villa on the Costa, only to find all the ‘progress reports’ were lies when they come across to see their dream home and found it either as foundations only or perhaps a couple of walls. The builder of course was long gone with his ill-gotten gains. My own sister had a villa built and the local building company couldn’t even follow the plans for many rooms were the wrong size! This building fraud much like the Time Share fraud of old has been completely ignored by the government and the police, because let’s face it, it only happens to foreigners! 

Local Police - Car Bound

Another interesting factor is the police are only interested in ‘high profile’ crime. Spain’s traffic and local police are next to useless, preferring to sit on their fat asses in their patrol cars rather than fight  everyday crime like beggars and traffic violations which is one of the reasons Spain has the highest annual mortality rates for road accidents (35,000) in Europe. But gross inefficiency is not limited to  the police, its everywhere.

An Expensive Accident

My wife and I had occasion to go the the Marbella Justice building a couple of years ago, and when we entered the office there where about five people lounging at desks. One eventually came over and asked what we wanted. We gave them the paper we had received and the man tried to find the file relating to our business. Every table, cabinet and available floor space was covered with half-a-metre deep piles of files as if it was a repository for waste paper. After searching for about fifteen minutes the man came back and said the person dealing with our situation was on holiday and could we come back the following week because he could not find the file – no surprise there! The idea of a proper filing system seemed beyond the entire department. When dealing with the local council in some cases you get bounced from one department to another, and these are spread about in buildings all over town instead being together in just one. 

Latin American Call Centre - About as Far Removed From Reality as You Can Get

Dealing with Spanish companies like Vodafone or the electricity company is a nightmare due to inefficiency. You have to call a certain number to get someone to deal with your query or complaint and you end up talking to someone in South America who has no idea what you are talking about. If you start getting frustrated they turn abusive as has happened with my wife when calling Vodafone. When our internet dropped my wife was on the phone for almost two hours!!!

In all good faith, I cannot ‘paint everyone here with the same brush’ for there are many Spaniards who are kind, courteous, and do what they can to help within the rotten system, but generally speaking, Spain needs to inject a huge amount of efficiency into the day to day running of the country from top to bottom. The police need to get off their backsides and do the job they are paid to do by sorting out the corruption and fraud which is endemic here. The government needs to start governing properly and let the people know that it is doing so, otherwise little will change in the forseeable future.  

Happy New Year Everyone

I sincerely hope that the new government can come to grips with all the root problems here and get the economy back on track, for it is a pleasant place to live, and of course the weather is divine. This will be the last entry for 2011  and outside it’s 20*C with wall-to-wall sunshine. Just the way we like it!

Have a wonderful New Year and may your blog audience grow beyond your wildest dreams.

Roy.                           

 

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