News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week December 12th to December 18th
SHOCK YEAR FOR PETROL PRICES
Ten per cent increase in 2002
By Oliver McIntyre
THE PRICE OF PETROL AT STATIONS IN SPAIN INCREASED AN AVERAGE OF NEARLY 10 PER CENT FROM JANUARY TO OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR.
The Ministry of Economy confirmed that unleaded fuel prices have risen 9.6 per cent while the cost of premium fuel increased by 9.8 per cent during the last 10 months. The rise in prices in Spain during this period is 1.12 per cent higher than the average increase in other European Union countries.
The highest price increases on unleaded fuel are to be seen in Madrid (11.6 per cent), Valencia (10.9 per cent) Murcia (10.5 per cent), Baleares (10.4 per cent), and Andalucía (10.4 per cent). The regions experiencing the lowest increases are Cantabria, Galicia, and La Rioja, which increased by 8.5 per cent. The increases in premium fuel prices are similar, with Madrid topping the list at 11.8 per cent and Galicia, at 8.6 per cent, showing the lowest increase.
The European Union´s Oil Bulletin states that unleaded fuel prices in Spain have risen an average of 9.46 per cent, while those in the entire European Union rose 8.34 per cent. On examining pre-tax prices, the average increase in Spain was 23.92 per cent, while the average European Union increase was 29.7 per cent. Thus, although the overall price increase in Spain was greater than the EU average, Spain's pre-tax price increase was actually 5.85 per cent less than the average for EU countries.
FINES FOR PETROL STATIONS
Fines are also being levied at petrol stations that don't adequately show the price listings. The Government has imposed sanctions and opened proceedings against more than 2,000 petrol stations for lack of proper price signage.
Juan Prats, president of the Spanish Confederation of Service Stations (CREEES) confirmed that, despite a change in regulations that permits the stations to provide the pricing information via mobile telephones, there were still many petrol stations that failed to comply with necessary requirements.
TANKER IN STRAITS COLLISION SCARE
By David Eade
A LACK OF MARITIME CONTROL WAS ONE OF THE REASONS PUT FORWARD FOR TWO VESSELS RECENTLY COLLIDING AT NIGHT IN THE WATERS CLOSE TO THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR.
The USA registered 30,000 ton tanker 'Rover', carrying a cargo of kerosene, hit the 2,300 ton cargo ship 'Jacob'. The collision was caused by a bad manoeuvre as the tanker made to enter the Bay of Algeciras. The bow of the 'Rover' struck the prow of the 'Jacob', which was making for the open sea. Luckily both vessels were travelling at a low speed so little damage was done to either ship and there were no injuries to the respective crews.
The collision came at the end of another week in which shipping in the zone of the Straits was again filled with controversy. First to be detained was the vessel 'Canyon', fleeing from the port of Gibraltar at night so as to avoid a full inspection by the port authority. An initial inspection had shown up various deficiencies such as faulty radar and a deficient pump. The 'Canyon' is a 26-year-old vessel, which flies the flags of Saint Vincent and the Grenadine Islands. She was last inspected in Málaga on April 6. The Rock's authorities have reported the departure of the 'Canyon' under the cover of darkness to the international maritime organization in Paris. The vessel should now be bared from entering European ports.
THE 'MOSKOWSKY' CONTROVERSY
Later in the week the tanker 'Moskowsky Festival' arrived in Gibraltar's port to off-load a cargo of fuel oil. The 'Moskowsky Festival' is 15 years old and is said to be of a similar construction as the ill-fated 'Prestige'. The tanker, which flies the Maltese flag, had earlier been ordered outside the 200 kilometre limit by ships of the Spanish navy.
Reacting to Spanish anger at the docking of the 'Moskowsky Festival' in Gibraltar, the Government issued a statement saying that the port authority had carried out an inspection of the 'Moskowsky Festival' and that she met all the requirements necessary to be fit to sail. The statement also noted the fact that the tanker had been inspected in the Spanish port of Santa Cruz in Tenerife on October 30 and had also been passed fit.
MÁLAGA VOLUNTEERS ASSIST PRESTIGE CLEAN-UP
By Dave Jamieson
As many as 120 volunteers from Málaga gave up their holiday weekend to join in cleaning-up Galicia in the wake of the Prestige tanker disaster. The ecological collective, Habitat, based at the University, filled two coaches with helpers who left early last Thursday, driving north to join thousands of others from across Europe. Travelling with the group, and advising on Spain's worst ecological disaster for years, were 12 experts from the Junta de Andalucía.
FESTIVE FISH SHORTAGE
Meanwhile, Málaga fishmongers have turned to Italy and France for supplies, as produce from Galicia dries up. Fish sales traditionally soar ahead of Christmas with mussels and oysters in particular demand, and a quarter of all shellfish consumed in Málaga comes from Galicia. With fishing now banned along most of the Galician coast following the Prestige spillage, retailers have been forced to turn to other sources of supply to ensure there are no shortages over the festive period.
COSTA DE SOL HOSPITAL TO EXPAND
By David Eade
THE MANAGEMENT OF THE REGIONAL COSTA DEL SOL HOSPITAL IN MARBELLA ARE IN THE PROCESS OF DRAWING UP ENLARGEMENT PLANS TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS CAUSED BY THE CHRONIC LACK OF SPACE.
This crisis has been brought about by the rapid increase in the population levels of the region. Within the space of the next four months a plan will be presented to increase the area dedicated to consulting rooms including specialist eye care and emergency cases. It will also include provision for enlarged technical facilities and additional car parking spaces. Not only will the plan set out to improve the existing facilities offered by the hospital but it will also seek to accommodate new services. These will include specialist clinics and a mental health unit, to be set-up in collaboration with the Hospital Clínico of Málaga.
The director of the Costa del Sol hospital, Antonio Pérez Rielo, explained that the proposals to the provincial and regional health authorities would be based on the needs of the population of the region. He pointed out that population levels had doubled in the past decade. It is hoped that the funding for the expansion programme will be included in the 2004 budgets.
NEW HEALTH CENTRE FOR ESTEPONA
Work on a new health centre is due to commence this week on a 4,000 square metre plot of land at La Lobilla. This will be the second health centre in Estepona. Regional government has set aside 1.4 million euros for the project and it should be operational in 18 months time. The existing health centre in Estepona was set up to cater for a population of not more than 25,000 people. Now it can no longer cope with the case load as not only does it meet the needs of a fast expanding Estepona but also the municipalities of Manilva and Casares plus other small population areas in the interior of Málaga Province.
FOREIGN RESIDENTS ON THE UP AT ALHAURÍN EL GRANDE
News Staff Reporter
Out of Alhaurín el Grande´s population of 19,000 residents, at least 2,000 people - or approximately 10 per cent - are non-Spanish residents, according to the latest census figures. Municipal records indicate that the town´s residents include foreigners from more than 40 different countries. The majority of these are from England and Germany as well as from other European countries and a few from South America and Africa.
Town Council leader Juan Martín Serón indicated that the growing foreign-resident population was due, in part, to the town's attractiveness to tourists.
The census data indicate that the number of foreign residents in the town has grown quickly over the last few years, as has the town's overall population, and the trend seems likely to continue.
PROCEEDINGS ON LOCAL BUSINESSES GO AHEAD
By Oliver McIntyre
AFTER A SIX-MONTH CAMPAIGN IN WHICH BENALMÁDENA'S LOCAL POLICE SCRUTINISED THE LICENSES OF MOST OF THE TOWN'S LOCAL BUSINESSES, 500 IRREGULARITIES WERE IDENTIFIED, WHICH AMOUNTS TO APPROXIMATELY 40 PER CENT OF ALL CURRENTLY OPERATING ESTABLISHMENTS.
The majority of the irregularities consisted of the lack of an opening license, possession of licenses that do not match the actual function of the business (such as an establishment with a bar license operating as a discotheque), and failure to be current on license fees.
Due to the large number of cases, which now need to be examined more closely to sort out exactly what each business needs to do to remedy its licensing problems, the city government has approved the hiring of an additional staff person for a period of three months. That individual will review each case and pass it on to the appropriate department for action. Meanwhile, over the next few months the local police will continue their campaign to examine the rest of the town's businesses. Once the process is complete, they will institute periodic reviews in the future.
A POSITIVE STEP
The campaign was undertaken to ensure that all of the town's businesses were operating in compliance with the licensing requirements established by the Government's Decreto 78-2002 law. The president of the Benalmádena Business Association, José Montiel, agreed that the enforcement of licensing requirements was necessary. He indicated that the irregularities identified were not grave, and that getting all local businesses into compliance with their proper licenses is a positive step. Content paragraphs
ANDALUCÍA HEALTH SERVICE ON LINE
By Oliver McIntyre
Andalucía Health Service has launched a new Internet service for residents of the region. The Web site, called inters@s, allows users to identify their designated doctor, find out consultation hours, and ascertain their pharmaceutical benefits. The site will gradually increase the information and services available to users, eventually allowing them to make suggestions and complaints, partake in opinion polls, and - more importantly - make appointments with their primary care doctors. These additional services are expected to go into effect in mid-2003. Other additions planned for the future include services that allow users to review their personal medical information, find out about the activities and programmes of the region's hospitals, health centres and blood transfusion centres, and even "chat" on-line with doctors. In order to utilise the site, users must have a health card and will need to identify themselves on the site. To select doctors or hospitals, or to change personal data (such as an address change), users need a digital certification (the same as is used when making tax declarations via Internet) to verify their identity. The Inters@s site can be accessed via the main Web page for the Andalucía Health Service (SAS): www.sas.junta-andalucia.es.
HELP FOR FOREIGNERS ON BANKING TRANSACTIONS
By Oliver McIntyre
THE TORREMOLINOS MUNICIPAL OFFICE OF CONSUMER INFORMATION (OMIC) IS PUBLICISING INFORMATION AIMED AT FOREIGN RESIDENTS WHO REQUIRE THE TRANSFER OF FUNDS FROM BANK ACCOUNTS IN THEIR HOME COUNTRIES TO THEIR SPANISH BANK ACCOUNTS.
Specifically, the OMIC draws attention to the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identification Code) system, which was created in order to allow fast, secure, and inexpensive cross-boarder funds transfers.
The system consists of a set of country-identification letters, followed by up to 34 alphanumeric characters, which provide a reliable means of identifying the account of any bank client in any country. In Spain, for example, the country-identification letters are ES, and are followed by 20 numerical digits broken into groupings that identify the bank (four digits), the branch where the account is located (four digits), a control number (two digits), and the account number (10 digits).
According to the OMIC, the IBAN and BIC system guarantees fast and accurate cross-border funds transfers. However, it also recommends that consumers shop around and compare the terms and conditions of different banks, as service fees can vary considerably.
The OMIC also points out that if a transfer of funds does not successfully arrive in the customer's account, the customer has a guaranteed right to the return of the money, up to 12,500 euros plus interest and charges. And if a transfer takes more than six working days to arrive in the customer's account, the customer has a right to compensation for damages. For more detailed information, the OMIC recommends calling the "Europa en Directo" toll-free telephone number: 900 98 31 98.
NEW GOLF COURSE FOR ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE
Future plans include four-star hotel
By Oliver McIntyre
A new nine-hole golf course is set to open this month in Alhaurín de la Torre, as part of a development project that will ultimately include nine additional holes and a four-star hotel adjacent to the course. The new golf course occupies 20 hectares and is located next to an existing 150-hectare, 18-hole course owned by the same company, Lauro Golf.
The company has spent three million euros on the new course, which includes a special kind of disease-resistant grass that requires 40 per cent less water than traditional grass. In addition, the combined 170-hectare installation (including the old course and the new nine-hole course) has been planted with 7,000 trees, 90 per cent of which are native species such as holm oak, cork, carob, and pine trees.
On the same day as the new course´s grand opening, the cornerstone will be laid for the future 197-room hotel planned for the site. The hotel, which is expected to cost more than 10 million euros, will be three stories high, with a footprint of 18,000 square metres and a lodging capacity of 394 people. It will be run by the NH hotel chain.