The institution of marriage continues to suffer in Catalunya, with weddings at a record low while there has been a new rise in divorces and separations (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). Last year, there were 20,854 break-ups in Catalunya, a rise of 6.8 percent compared to 2009. Of these, 19,541 were divorces, 1,298 were separations and 15 annulments, according to information from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE, National Statistics Institute). On average, this means there were 276 break-ups per 100,000 inhabitants in Catalunya. In Spain as a whole, the rise in the number of break-ups was less than in Catalunya, which is the autonomous community that saw the largest rise in marriages ending, with an increase of 3.9 percent compared to 2009. Other statistics that the INE has revealed include the fact that there were 134 marriages in Catalunya that lasted less than a year and that the most common age group for seeking a divorce or separation is that between 40 and 49, although there were also 285 divorces amongst couples aged 70 and over. In addition, there was a fall in the birth rate in Catalunya in 2010 for the second year running, following 13 years in increasing numbers of babies born here: there were 84,163 births last year, a fall of 1,041 compared to the previous year.
An ambulance driver involved in a fatal crash yesterday has been arrested following a positive reading in a drugs test (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The accident took place on Avinguda Diagonal with Roger de Llúria at about 5.40pm, as a result of which a man of 44 years died; he has been riding a moped that crashed into the ambulance, which was on its way to attend an incident in the city centre. He was treated at the scene and taken to the Hospital Sant Pau but passed away shortly afterwards. According to a report from the Ajuntament de Barcelona, after the driver of the ambulance underwent the first drugs test, he was taken to a hospital to undergo more tests to confirm the positive result.
The Generalitat is studying the necessary legal changes to be able to apply the wealth tax that has just been reintroduced by the Spanish government (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Although in the official notification of the reactivation of the tax in the Boletín Oficial del Estado it states that the tax will apply to wealth of €700,000 and above, taxpayers in certain communities, including Catalunya, will have to pay the tax on money above €108,200 if a legal amendment is not carried out. The reason is that in many communities, local law takes precedent over state law, such is the case in Catalunya since 2002, according to lawyer Pablo Torrano of the company Garrigues. As such, if the Catalan law is not modified or suppressed, taxpayers in Catalunya will end up having to pay more than in other parts of Spain. Sources from the Catalan economy department say that they are looking at what steps need to be taken to bring Catalan law into line with Spanish legislation on this matter, and confirmed that the tax will apply in Catalunya; some autonomous communities, including Castilla-La Mancha, have said that they will not apply it and leave it as 100 percent exempt (as it was until last Saturday across Spain). When the tax was 'eliminated' in 2008, in the communities of Andalucía, Baleares, Canarias, Cantabria, Extremadura, Galicia and Valencia, as well as Catalunya, it was applicable to wealth of €108,200, but now the Spanish government has raised the minimum level to €700,000, with the argument that in this way, the middle classes won't be affected and the tax is focused solely on citizens with significant wealth.