The International Writers Magazine: Economic Disaster in Spain
Panic in Spain
Panic. This is how I see the present situation in Spain resulting from the latest ‘off the cuff’ decisions taken by the Zapatero government to ease the continuing economic pain that this country is suffering.
Briefly, to reduce the energy cost due to rising oil prices they’ve reduced the speed limit on the motorways from 120kms per hour down to 110. The Industry Minister says it will save between 15 and 20% in petrol costs. The automobile clubs says its utter nonsense whilst everyone knows that Spaniards take no notice of speed limits anyway and the real reason is to increase the number of fines thanks to over speeding. Coupled to this measure is an added bonus of 20% subsidy for all motorists who opt to change their tyres for new ‘green’ ones. Trouble is that these supposed tyres have yet to be homologated and won’t be on the market until 2012. Oh, by the way, there are 18 million tyres changed every year on average and the number of new ones for sale will be about a hundred thousand when they eventually appear on the supermarket shelves. The energy comedy show doesn’t end here. The government has also decided to change all light fittings in every public building for more efficient ones. Good measure you may say! Sure, except that the investment costs alone will take up to 7 years to recoup.
Corruption scandals are next on the list but this time it’s big bucks! Apparently the regional government of Andalucía has been milking the European funds for years if not decades thanks to the creation of ‘fictitious’ public companies and their corresponding workforce, but to top it all, they’ve added ‘fictitious’ pension benefits to ice the fraudulent cake. Some lawyers calculate that over forty thousand law suits are mounting up in the courts. Sr. Manuel Chaves, the president for 22 years was conveniently ‘promoted’ to the newly created post of 3rd Vice-president in the National Government (to get him out of Andalucía!) and when asked to justify the accusation by the opposition merely answered in a Parliamentary session, ‘there may be about 4 or 5 misdemeanours, but that’s all! No big thing!’ The right wing media has deemed it the worst case of corruption in Spain’s democratic history. By the way, the EU troops are on their way to investigate.
Herewith the remainder of news during the past two weeks. The Savings Banks as I have insisted for months are finally being taken to task over their finances. In a nutshell they are ‘broke’ and need capital injection from wherever they can get it. Behind the scenes, the Minister for Finance, Sra. Salgado has been running around the world from the Middle East (Arab world) to the Far East (the Chinese) and across the pond for secret meetings with Bernanke of the Federal Reserve. This leads on to the next issue; privatisation.
Apart from the banks, ZP is trying to sell the family silver but his trade unions won’t let him! I reported a few months ago that the air traffic controllers went on a wild cat strike that caused a rumpus during the Christmas holidays. They had their knuckles wrapped and were ordered back to work by the military. Well, it’s the government air administration (airports and control towers) lot that is now carrying out their own strike action because ZP wants to inject private capital (up to 49%) into the system. Why are they upset? Quite simple, any private entity will immediately cut down on staff costs by sending half the payroll off to pasture in retirement. In other words, like all other public entities they are overstaffed. This is just one of many government sectors that are up for grabs.
Finally we have unemployment figures still on the rise (February was up again) but the Labour Minister has promised that the worst is over and that we should see an improvement this month. The pundits simply comment that he may be right because there won’t be any jobs left!
I will update again next month unless any further catastrophe occurs in the next couple of weeks in this beloved country suffering from its own political and economic Tsunami (no offence meant to the devastated people of Japan).
© James Skinner. 12th March, 2010.
The Return of Andalus March 1st 2011
Mudslinging, insults and hundreds of lawsuits against corrupt politicians is going on throughout Spain