I've got a couple of Chip and Pin cards issued by my bank here in Pontevedra. In theory, I should be using these as I do in the UK – just inserting the card, tapping in the PIN number and taking the card back. This, however, is not how things work here. After a short survey of ten outlets, I can say that:-
- 0% asked me to input the PIN number.
- In 90% of the cases I was asked for proof of identity. Only the toll booths on the autopistas didn't.
- The same 90% asked me to put my signature in a little box.
So, will Chip and Pin ever arrive here, precluding the ubiquitous practice of demanding proof of identity, however small the purchase, and then a signature? I do wonder.
Government Cost Savings:
How about fusing some of the regions ('Autonomous Communities').
Asturias and Galicia?
La Rioja with one of its neighbours?
Cantabria with Castile y León?
Would you buy this (rather ugly) house for a million euros?
No? Quite right; no one here has in the more than five years it's been on sale. Presumably the vendors are the sort of stupid and stubborn Galicians who over-price their property and then refuse to reduce it when no offers come in. Just possibly it might have sold for 500k at the peak of the phoney property boom in 2007 but now it's just a “toxic asset”. Which may well be owned by a bank.
A couple of lists, reported in recent weeks (and just found in my notebook):-
The Index of Competitiveness
- Hong Kong
36. Spain. Same position as last year.
So, lots of room for improvement.
Approval Ratings for Spain's Institutions
Doctors – 93%
Scientists – 90%
State school teachers – 88%
Then we plummet right down to:-
Judges – 44%
Courts – 36%
The Constitutional Court – 29%
The Supreme Court – 27%
Parliament – 16%
Political Parties - 9%
This is a sorry picture and it's interesting that political parties are even less well thought of than banks. But, then, we do have an endless diet of corruption stories in the media.
Which reminds me - The mayor of the small town near Ourense arrested last week for various offences has come come up with a novel defence - “Yes, I did receive moneys but they weren't for me. They were for someone else.” I wonder if this person (his wife?) will be serving his gaol sentence for him.
Finally . . . This is the van of an enterprising student attending the School of Fine Arts in town.
During his first year, he parked it – for free - in the street and saved himself the cost of renting a room. And he's now done it again this year. Though rather closer to the entrance, saving himself 30 or 40 metres walk of a morning, midday and evening.