Spanish News August 2017

'Smart' Electricity Meters

Spain will be the first country in Europe to replace analogue electricity meters with digital, remotely-operated versions by the end of 2018.

'Smart' meters will enable householders or traders to work out their consumption by the minute and they can be read from a central office without having to send out meter readers. Customers will be able to work out which appliances and at what times of day the most power is used and adjust accordingly to save themselves money. They will also be able to alter the power level on demand.

Many consumers prefer not to upgrade their supply as this 'overload warning' acts as a brake and prevents their usage being too high, but 'smart' meters mean they can temporarily up the wattage so they can use various appliance all at once, then turn it back down so they are not tempted to over-consume afterwards.

Estimated readings will no longer apply as with a 'smart' meter, all readings are correct.

It will also be impossible for fraudsters to hook up to someone else's supply to avoid paying.

The European Commission has ordered all member States in the EU that 80% of its meters are the 'smart' version by 2020. Only Spain and the UK have decided to substitute all meters by New Year's Eve 2018. Spain will be the only country in Europe, if not the world, to have done away with analogue meters.

Costa del Sol couple in their 70s 'bought' baby for €100,000

The couple were found out when, nearly eight months after purchasing the newborn from his 30-year-old Russian mother, an hereditary illness was detected and his biological parents needed to be traced.

The mother had travelled to Spain from Russia a month before the birth in a private clinic in Málaga, recorded his birth with the name of the alleged father and then returned to Russia. The father registered was the husband of the arrested couple, but investigations showed he had no passport and had never travelled to Russia, showing he could not possibly be the baby's biological parent.

The baby has now been taken into care.

One In Three Pre-Schoolers Owns A Mobile Or Tablet

50% of them use these without adult supervision and by the time they start school, two-thirds will have their own devices and be spending up to 44 hours a week on them.

Concerns have already been raised about mobile phone addiction in Spain, with at least two youngsters aged 12 and 13 known to have been placed in treatment. Children who overuse tablets and mobiles are at risk of suffering weight gain, emotional and social problems, and sleep disturbance.

More schools are using e-books instead of paper textbooks and, as families have to buy these for their children every year, their availability in tablet format saves them around €200 to €300 per child.

Compulsory Pregnancy Tests For Female Recruits

Iberia Airlines could be fined €25,000 after a recruitment agency it appointed to seek temporary workers required a pregnancy test from all female candidates. This action counts as a 'serious breach' in relation to sex discrimination.

Iberia has countered these claims, insisting the pregnancy test responded to its 'specific health needs' procedures to ensure pregnant women they employed could be given the medical consideration they require, with a view to their own protection and not in any way affecting their jobs or career prospects in a negative way.

Iberia has been ordered to stop the requirement immediately and could still be fined even if it does so, but will face far more serious action if it continues to insist on the tests despite the ruling.

Spain Among Cheapest Countries In The EU For Consumer Spending, but 'Overpriced' In Telecommunications

Spain is one of Europe's cheapest countries for clothing, cigarettes and alcohol, but among the most expensive for mobile phone and internet connections and furniture.

Spain has always maintained a below-average figure, albeit during the housing bubble it caused prices to rise more quickly. Unbranded clothing and shoes are the cheapest in the Eurozone and the fifth-cheapest in the EU. Alcohol and cigarettes generate a very high level of taxes, which make up most of their prices.

Spain is the fifth-cheapest in the Eurozone for buying all types of vehicle, from cars and vans to motorbikes, mopeds and even bicycles.

Other products and services in Spain which fall below the EU average in price are public transport, housing, either renting or buying and utilities, food and arts and entertainment, but telephone, internet and postal services are among the most expensive in Europe. Major network operators in Spain have put their tariffs up already this year and experts believe they will do so even more to compensate for the loss of income now roaming charges have been scrapped in the EU.

€5bn Investment In 20 Major Trunk Roads

President Mariano Rajoy has announced investments of €5 billion over the next four years into at least 20 of Spain's major trunk roads. The cash injection will involve modernising and repairing heavily-frequented highways and motorways to improve safety and adapt to the ever-increasing volumes of traffic.

Franchise firms will be responsible for maintenance of these 20 or so roads for the next 30 years in a formula described as part-private and part-public investment. This will reportedly create 189,200 new jobs which, over the next four years, will bring in €3bn in tax income, effectively refunding the State 60% of its initial investment.

It is not clear whether this will involve more toll roads, but the AP-7 motorway running from San Juan (Alicante province) to Algemesí (Valencia province) will become toll-free from New Year's Day in the year 2020.

Ex-Caja Madrid Bank Boss Found Shot Dead

Miguel Blesa, director of the now-defunct Caja Madrid, had been sentenced in February for multi-million tax fraud linked to company credit cards. He and other directors had used their cards for everything from holidays to expensive champagne and registered them as work expenses, meaning they were offset against their tax bill.

Blesa had appealed his sentence and had arranged to go out hunting with a group of friends. He ended up setting off alone at dawn. His friend heard a gunshot seconds later and called his security guard, who contacted the emergency services. They found his body in the garage with a single bullet wound in the chest, fired using a hunting rifle.

He knowingly bought out a bank in Florida, USA, with Caja Madrid funds, despite knowing that the company shares were worthless and that doing so would cause the entity to collapse. Other charges included wage top-ups in cash he and his board received from the bank and money-laundering and tax evasion after his name showed up in the infamous 'Panamá Papers' leak.

British Family Faces Jail For Fake Holiday Sickness Claim

Deborah Briton, 53 and Paul Roberts, 43 appeared in Liverpool Crown Court after attempting to earn 52,000 pounds in compensation for a fictitious stomach bug allegedly caused by the food at their hotel in Mallorca, which they said also affected two of their children.