News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Registered residents to pay less than 50 per cent of IBI tax
New tax cut is one of outgoing Benalmádena mayor's final acts
By Oliver McIntyre
During what are likely to be his last days in office ahead of an ouster vote planned for May 18, outgoing Benalmádena Mayor Javier Carnero (PSOE) on Monday announced a further IBI property tax break for registered residents of the town, boosting their discount from the current 40 per cent to 55 per cent.
The discount, in the form of a subsidy from the town hall, is available to registered (empadronado) residents who are up to date on all municipal taxes and fees as of May 15.
The tax break has been incrementally implemented over the last couple of years in an effort to partially offset the sharp increase in IBI tax bills that resulted from the reassessment of cadastral home values performed in 2006.
In 2007 the town hall provided a 25 per cent discount to registered residents, which was boosted to 40 per cent last year. Mayor Carnero says this year's jump to a 55 per cent discount will mean an average reduction of 92 euros for homeowners.
"With this [additional discount] we continue this year to meet our campaign promise to lower taxes," said the mayor.
Also, this year taxpayers will be able to pay their IBI bill in instalments without having to file any special request for the payment plan.
Rossi wins Spanish Gran Prix in Jerez
Biker dies in head on collision in Arcos
By David Eade
The Italian six-time MotoGP world champion, Valentino Rossi, powered from fourth on the starting grid to take his first victory of the season at Jerez on Sunday in the Spanish motorcycling Grand Prix.
Home fans were cheering on Spanish rider Dani Pedrosa who had taken an early lead. With 10 laps left in front of the 120,000 crowd, around 8,000 less than last year, the Italian pulled away to finish the 27-lap race 2.7 seconds clear of the Spaniard's Honda. Rossi has now opened an 11-point lead at the top of the overall standings. Australian Casey Stoner was third for Ducati, his first appearance on the podium in Spain.
The Jerez crowd must have been hoping for a Pedrosa win as Rossi had experienced some problems in qualifying on Saturday but the Italian was quickest in Sunday's warm-up in the sun. Speaking after the race Rossi told the media that the Yamaha technicians had managed to fix the setup in time for the race. "We had to make a big change and without it I certainly wouldn't have won."
On the roads
Away from the race track around 50,000 bikers converged on the Jerez area for the Gran Prix and 'Motorada'. Hundreds of Guardia Civil, National Police and local forces were on duty in Jerez, El Puerto de Santa María and other towns in the area. Their job was to keep traffic congestion to a minimum, to prevent road violations with the help of patrolling helicopters as well as stamping out the illegal road races and late night displays that have become a traditional part of the three-day Gran Prix.
Over the weekend there was one recorded death of a biker after a head on collision with a car in Arcos de la Frontera. Another four were seriously injured in accidents after bikers filled the province's roads.
The mayor of Jerez, Pilar Sánchez, said there had been a good atmosphere in the town as the bikers and racing enthusiasts flocked in. She commented there had been no major incidents, all was normal and that roads that had for the last two years been closed off to bikers were now re-opened. Sánchez added Saturday night had been business as usual.
Recession puts skids on Spain's auto industry
Car registrations drop by 45.6 per cent
By David Eade
The registration of new cars in Spain fell by 45.6 per cent in April compared with the same month last year.
According to figures issued on Monday by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (Anfac), 67,215 cars were sold in April - a marked decline on the 123,561 sold a year ago.
Car registrations for the January-to April period were down 43.7 per cent on 2008. This equates to 265,210 cars sold in the first four months of this year compared with 471,299 in the same period last year.
In a press statement Anfac said: "This is the biggest drop in history for the month of April."
Spain entered an economic recession in the middle of 2008 and unemployment has doubled in the past year to over four million, or 17.36 per cent of the active population. This loss of jobs has resulted in a general drop in demand resulting in the poor figures for car sales.
The automobile industry in Spain is the third largest in Europe in volume and represents 8.4 per cent of GNP. Around 80 per cent of cars produced in this country are for the export market. Also 100,000 car workers have either lost their jobs or are working reduced hours in the cutbacks introduced by the multi-national car producers operating in Spain.
Nearly half of Serranía's rural tourism is illegal
A new campaign is underway to inform owners of the risks of illegal rentals
By David Eade
According to data produced by the Registro de Turismo de Andalucía (RTA), in the 21 towns that make up the Serranía de Ronda, 45 per cent of the rural houses for letting or properties that offer holiday lodgings are illegal.
The CIT Serranía de Ronda says that a survey of internet offers showed that around 200 properties are operating on a clandestine basis and are not registered on the RTA. These 200 rural houses account for 1,160 places out of the total 445 properties and 2,600 beds available in the area.
The CIT, in cooperation with CEDER, started a campaign to ensure that all rural properties met the tourism norms and this has borne some success. At the start there were 260 illegal properties or approximately 60 per cent of those on offer, which has now been reduced to 45 per cent.
Now a new campaign is underway. Meetings are being arranged with all council authorities so that the owners of illegal rural rentals can be informed of the risks they run when operating on a clandestine basis.
The CIT says its offers a free service to help those wishing to be listed on the RAT register. Their key aim is to promote a regulated high standard of lettings that will attract tourists to the Serranía.
The illegal properties, which are unregulated and whose facilities often fall below the minimum standards required by law, offer unfair competition to those who operate on a legal basis.
The tax authorities are also on the lookout. For instance during the Easter holiday season when the majority of rural rentals were fully occupied - based on the prices shown on their websites - they would have generated 136,000 euros without paying any tax. Not only are they guilty of tax avoidance but they often undercut the legal rentals.