Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Spanish president, Sr Rajoy, is reported to have told Mrs Merkel that Spain doesn't want yet another year of sacrifices with no rewards. Something was expected in return increased taxes, reduced public sector salaries, cuts in funding of social welfare and a drive for zero debt. We don't know Mrs Merkel's reply but we do know that she rejected Sr Rajoy's suggestion that Spain's situation will improve this year. Which is hardly surprising given the IMF forecast of a 1.5% fall in GDP.

What we's all like to see from Sr Rajoy is something along the lines of “We will identify corruption wherever it exists and seek to eradicate.” Or even “Yes, corruption is a major problem for Spain and we will do our best to eradicate it. But there are more important things to deal with right now, such as an unemployment rate of 26%.” Nothing of this nature so far. Possibly because the government's real objective – and that of the opposition – is to keep the lid on things.

I've averred there are too many levels of government in Spain and, thus, too many politicians. Maybe we'll see a reduction sometime but, until then, they all have to find something to do. And this is where the Cultural Centres I mentioned yesterday can come in handy. For they need to be visited. Especially just before regional elections in which overseas citizens are allowed to vote. Buenos Aires is a particularly popular destination for Galician polticians.

Coincidentally, the Spanish government is bringing in a law which will, it's reported, keep tabs on what regional governments do outside Spain. Or, in other words, will ensure “"unity of action, institutional loyalty and coordination." Cynics see it as a handy weapon against Cataluña's threat to seek international support for its goal of independence. On this subject, here's the trenchant view of my fellow blogger, Candide – writing in IberoSphere.

Closer to home and down in scale . . . There are 23 new homes up the slope behind mine. They took 6 years to build and have been unoccupied for at least 2. The problem is that the developers stole some land and 4 of the houses plus the drive to the entire development are illegal. The latter has become an overflow car-park for me and my neighbours but, over the last 2 weeks, quite extensive works have been carried out on it, down among the water pipes. It's hard to understand why, but there we are. Perhaps the builders are optimistic of getting access. In Spain one tends to stop speculating as anything could happen. Or nothing.

Over in London . . . Harrod's window in Knightsbridge is given over to a display in favour of Galicia. This features the strap-line - Can you keep my secret? Which I've long thought of as rather naff. But let's hope it works. Supported by the Rick Stein program on Galician cuisine on the TV today.

You may recall the calvario I suffered in getting my name off the municipal records in respect of the house in the hills I sold in November 2011. Despite which, I received both a demand for payment of the 2012 municipal taxes and a penalty for non-payment. Well, today I sent off a letter, together with 24 copy-documents, in an effort to bring this matter to a close. But I'm none too confident of this. Probably there'll be a document missing. Or one of the photocopied pages won't be clear enough. Anything to keep the matter unresolved and the bureaucrat in employment. It's at times like this that one feels Spain needs to drag itself out of the 18th century. Something which, as I say, La Crisis may help with.

Finally . . . When asked about giving up alcohol to help prolong his life, Kingsley Amis (a fan of single malt whisky) replied: “No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home.” Or ten, so far, in the case of my father.

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