Barcelona is to raise the cost of using the public bike rental system Bicing, for those who take the bikes for longer periods of time (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). During his electoral campaign, the main Bicing commitment of the now mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias was to reduce the cost of the service to the council, and from next year, this campaign promise will become a reality. The total cost of Bicing is around €18 million, of which €3 million is covered by the fee that users (around 120,000) currently pay. The other €15 million are paid by the city council, with income earned through the parking schemes of the Áreas Verde and Azul, in accordance with the principle that the transportation system that causes the most pollution should support the one that is the cleanest; this was the policy of the previous council, run by the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). To reduce the amount paid by the council, there will be gradual but substantial increases in the cost to users in the coming years; the objective is for the council to lower its contribution from 80 percent to around 65 or 70 percent. "The deficit generated by Bicing is intolerable; it's a service valued by users, but that is very expensive for the city," said the deputy mayor Sònia Recasens.
While Spanish banks are continuing to have problems due to the slowness of constructors and other businesses related to real estate in paying their debts, it seems that the issue has not yet reached its nadir (read article in Castilian here, El Periódico). In August, credit that was classified as having 'doubtful repayment' (dudoso cobro) was more than 7.14 percent of the €1.78 trillion credit that has been loaned to businesses and families here. There hasn't been such a high level of arrears on loan repayments since November 1994, during the post-Olympic Games crisis that Spain suffered. Financial expert say that the problem with slow debt repayments will keep rising until at least the middle of next year and by the end of 2011, could be at a level of around eight percent.
In the face of the continuing financial crisis, the opportunity to make economic reforms, especially in the area of employment (where changes have already been made in the areas of dismissals, contracts, collective negotiations and pensions), has led to the Spanish employers' association CEOE to propose to politicians a change in the way that Spain takes public holidays (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). With the justification of increasing productivity, the organisation wants to get rid of 'ponts' or 'bridges' (whereby employees take off an extra day of work to join together a weekend and a public holiday that falls on a Tuesday or Thursday), and instead to move mid-week holidays to either Monday or Friday; this suggestion is included in a document that will be presented to parties today, and includes other measures. If implemented, the working week won't be disrupted so much by the taking of an extended weekend. However, although the CEOE has said that it wants to make this change and says that all sectors are in accordance, there is disagreement with the idea on some sides, and even within the CEOE itself. While the industrial sector is favourable to the suggestion, companies connected to tourism and commerce have reservations, as does the Spanish catholic church, which is resistant to the modification of any religious holidays.