Spanish IVA (Value Added Tax)

recession

The Spanish Government under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has announced it will raise IVA taxes (impuestos sobre el valor añadido) by 2 % to 18 % from July 2010.

That’s bad news in a country that is deeply entrapped in recession, one should have thought. Or is it?

If one reads the small print, one learns that in Spain Value Added Tax is charged currently on three bands:

IVA is currently charged under a Tipo Superreducido at 4 % on items, products and services that are considered indespensable and of prime necessity, such as bread, cheese, milk, fruit and vegetables. Also included are school material, books, newspapers, medicine, subsidised housing, wheelchairs, vehicles for invalids, etc. These exceptions will remain; the IVA on these items will not be raised. Good.

IVA is currently charged under a Tipo Reducido at 7 % on items such as food, softdrinks, spectacles, dental services, art objects, antiques, hair cuts, purchase and construction of domestic property, services rendered by artists, cultural activities and so forth. IVA on these products and services will be raised by 1 % to 8 %. Ok.

IVA is currently charged under a Tipo General at 16 % on everything else, including CDs, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, agricultural machinery, radio and television services. IVA on only this type of products and services will be raised by 2 % to 18 %. Let’s be fair. What else can the government do, really?

VAT is currently charged throughout the European Union at rates oscillating between 15 % (Cyprus and Luxemburg, and momentarily, the UK) and 25 % (Sweden and Hungary). An exception in the EU, and in Spain, is found in the Canary Islands, where IVA is charged at 5 %.

The proposal has not become legally binding yet. The Spanish Congreso (parliament) has to pass the proposal before it can become law. But it will, I am certain.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 29th, 2009. The time was 18:28:28.

Spanish IVA (Value Added Tax)

Weather Alert

tipping_down

The annual Gota Fría spell seems to be settling in this year for a real string of heavy storms and torrential weather. Yesterday, the Agencia Estatal de Meteorología raised the weather alert in Mallorca again to the level of Yellow. The level Yellow indicates a risk but it could be worst; there are also the levels orange and red with even higher risks. For the moment, the weather warning will remain on level Yellow until tomorrow, September 30th. The warning was given to the Balearic emergency services indicating a forecast of severe rain and the possibility of tormentas (storms).

And severe rain storms we had indeed, yesterday, at least here in the South Eastern part of the island. Motor traffic was at an impass on various roads between Porreres and Felanitx, between Ca’s Concos and Alquería Blanca, between Campos and Porreres, between S’Horta and Cala d’Or, and in the Portocolom area. Santanyí, Campos, Manacor and Palma were also affected. At times yesterday roads had converted into rivers and torrents. There also were power cuts in Santanyí, Portocolom and Llucmajor.

The September tourists are non-plussed. The weather has been fine lately in Britain, Germany, France and Central Europe, so what’s wrong with the Islas Baleares?

The truth is that this meteorological pattern happens every year, here, at around the time of the Autumn equinox. There are always Gotas Frías, trompas de agua, autumn storms and torrential rains between the beginning of September and the beginning of October. These storms are not always everywhere in Mallorca; sometimes they occur in the North of the island, sometimes they occur around Palma and sometimes elsewhere, but storms there always are, come rain or shine. Normally the storms and downpours occur over a period of a few days, but this year, the Yellow or Orange weather alerts and the heavy rains have been with us for about a fortnight now.

It will soon be over, believe me. And it will happen again next year, one way or other.

alerta_29-09-09

Post Script: The weather alert for Mallorca has this morning been raised from Yellow to Orange. Watch your ways.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: September 23rd, 2009. The time was 12:20:54. The weather map was taken from the AEMet website. Muchas gracias.

Weather Alert

The Gínjol Fruit (Ziziphus jujuba)

ginjol_2

You may have come across a strange looking, small fruit in Mallorcan shops and local markets called Gínjol, especially at this time of year. This Ziziphus jujuba fruit is also known as Jujube, Red Date, or Chinese Date. In Spain, the fruit is called Azufaifo; here in Mallorca you’ll find the fruit always under the Catalan name, Gínjol for the fruit and Gínjoler for the tree. The fruit seems quite popular amongst the Mallorcans, but frankly, I am not sure as to how they eat it or use it. I would rather suspect that its main use is as a desert, for cakes and for sweet syrups or jellies. I’ve also seen the fruit in its dried version here in Mallorca, when it has a distinctly red colour; dry it is sold as a dàtil (date).

I have eaten the fresh Gínjol fruit myself once, years ago, and I do remember neither liking nor disliking it. The Gínjol that I had then simply did not win me over. If I would know what to do with the fruit I would happily have another go.

Perhaps someone out there could enlighten us all?

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: September 27th, 2009. The time was 14:03:27.

The Gínjol Fruit (Ziziphus jujuba)

The Ajuntament de Alcúdia

la_sala_alcudia

In Alcúdia, a rather stunning building houses the Casa Consistorial de Alcúdia (town-hall). This ayuntamiento is said to be one of the most beautiful municipal town-hall buildings in all of Spain.

The edifice was built in 1929, eighty years ago this year. The then crown prince, Infante Don Jaime de Bourbon, plus the President of the Spanish Government, Miguel Primo de Rivera, made their way especially to Alcúdia to inaugurate the splendid new seat of a rather proud town council. It is reported that the construction cost the sum of 600,000 Pesetes at the time. It is not reported that any corruption, sleaze or extortion were involved in the proceedings.

On the occasion of its anniversary, a small commemorative book was published in a rather lavish fashion.

la_sala

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 2nd, 2009. The time was 11:48:04.

The Ajuntament de Alcúdia

Language And Literature

formentor_conversaciones

In 1959, during the reign of Francisco Franco and with Spanish culture at a great distance from its European neighbours or its South American cousins, the Spanish author Camilo José Cela gathered a group of literary colleagues at the Conversaciones Poéticas de Formentor in the island’s northern-most mountain range. Señor Cela would much later become a Nobel Laureat (in 1989), and the winner of the Premio Cervantes (in 1995).

In 1961, this event led to the Premios Formentor competition, which was held again in Formentor the following year, although it would travel to other places in the world after that. 
Last year, a revival of these international literary gatherings returned to Mallorca, and to the emblematic Hotel Formentor which was founded 81 years ago, in 1928.

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Poetic Conversations, the Conversaciones Literarias en Formentor 2009 are being held this weekend. The event was inaugurated yesterday evening. Sadly, Camilo José Cela has long since passed away (in 2002) and couldn’t attend this time, but his Portuguese colleague, José de Sousa Saramago, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, is expected to attend this event on Sunday at 12h00.

We all have left it too late to participate, whatever our literary ambitions. Instead, we could have a cup of tea, or a pint, at the beach bar in Cala Formentor and trust our luck in spotting one or the other literary celebrity.

conversaciones_formentor

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 14th, 2009. The time was 14:48:13.

Language And Literature

The Pueblo Español in Palma

pueblo_español

I actually like the Pueblo Español in Palma de Mallorca, I have always liked it. This Spanish Village was the brainchild of Fernando Chueca Goitia, an architect specialising in the restauration of historic buildings. The Poble Espanyol was built in 1967 as an open-air architectural collection of some of Spain’s most famous buildings, built with great care and detail, albeit in a reduced scale version. Here, we find at times impressive reproductions of the Banys Àrabs from Córdoba, of parts of the Alhambra from Granada, of churches, chapels, torres and Ayuntamientos from the mediaeval period of Spain’s prime, from places such as Madrid, Toledo, Santillana, Zaragoza, you name it. I admit that it should look rather cheesy or tacky, but honestly, it does not.

Or should I say, it now does. The Poble Espanyol changed ownership a year or so ago. It is not a kind of theme park of Spanish history any longer the way it was for over forty years, complete with artesans’ workshops, leather makers, potters, glass blowers, artists’ studios and small museums.

Instead, the place is now called the Nuevo Pueblo Español. It is now meant to be a place to chill-out. The historical architectural reproductions now serve as mere backgrounds for cocktail bars, disco lounges, tapas places and chichi restaurants. The artesans’ work places are now converted into interior design outlets, estate agencies and other trivialities.

What a great shame.

pueblo español

The photos were chosen from my archive. They were taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 7th, 2008. The time was 17:22:12 and 17:20:28, respectively.

The Pueblo Español in Palma

The Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua)

Algarrobo

The Algarrobo tree (Ceratonia siliqua, Carob tree) is very characteristic of the Mediterranean region. The plant provides one of Mallorca’s traditionally most important crops, the algarroba fruit (carob fruit, also known as locust bean).

Now is the time for the annual algarroba harvest. During September and October you will see Mallorcan farmers (or their wives) beating long dark carob beans off their trees with long sticks. Unfortunately, in Mallorca over the last few years algarrobo trees are more and more neglected. The cost of manpower is too high nowadays to harvest the carob pods with the wholesale price per kilo of carob beans being as low as 18 Euro Cents. Not worth one’s while really, unless one does the job oneself.

Ceratonia_siliqua

The photos were taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: September 12th and 23rd, 2009. The time was 19:03:35 and 18:48:06, respectively.

The Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua)