Phew. What a year it has been. Only one year ago, the New Year began with Spain taking over the presidency of the European Union. Pomp and a festive mood were the order of the day, and the colour to celebrate it all was blue (see my blog entry dated January 1st, 2010).
Today’s New Year will be greeted in Mallorca rather with a feeling of woe and despair. Pomp seems outdated now and the mood is less festive and more despondent. There are cutbacks everywhere; babies born to Spanish families will not receive the baby birth bonus of 2,500 € that had been made available to the happy parents for the last 42 months. Supplementary benefit of 426 € will not be paid to the long-term unemployed any longer after February 2011. Blue has changed from a colour to a mood as austerity measures take their toll. And the Blues will be even more pronounced with electricity charges going up from today by 9.8 % and the price of Butano gas bottles by 3.13 % as of today as well. Salaries are poised to rise by 2 % in 2011, that’s 3 digits lower than last November’s rate of inflation. Spain is now at the bottom of the league in Europe for the index of an individual’s Purchasing Power, along with the UK.
As for smokers: the price per package of cigarettes or loose tobacco has gone up in Spain a month or two ago. As of tomorrow smoking is to be outlawed in bars, restaurants, schools, hospitals, children’s playgrounds, airports and other public buildings, including casinos and bingo halls. Hotels will be allowed to offer but 30 % of their rooms to smokers. Prisons are permitted to have designated smoking areas only out of doors. It will now be outlawed to smoke outside of public edificios anywhere near their front doors, as well. Makes you want to give up smoking, doesn’t it?
Knowing the Spanish character just a little bit, I wonder if the new law will be suitably enforcable in the short term. I doubt it very much. I’ll keep you posted.
A Happy New Year to you all. And Molts d’anys.
The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 25th, 2010. The time was 08:54:45.