The deputy prime minister of Spain and economics minister, Elena Salgado, has said that she wants to discuss with the automonous communities the possibility of introducing a legally-designated spending 'ceiling', similar to what has been proposed for the central government, but with more flexibility (read article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). In the face of growing concern about the level of debt in certain communities, such as Catalunya and Castilla-La Mancha, the opposition Partido Popular (PP), which now governs in 11 of the 16 communities, has said that it thinks that many of these regions will not reach the target debt of 1.3 percent of gross domestic product for 2011. The PP plans to use a meeting of the Board of Tax and Financial Policy (CPFF) on Wednesday to call on the Spanish government to do more to help the communities increase their level of income, although this is a request that Salgado is likely to ignore. It is probable that this will be the last meeting of the CPFF of this parliament, if prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero calls early elections for the autumn. He will be hoping that the issue can be at least left on the right track following this week's meeting: transfer to the communities the legislation that will limit the spending of Spanish government based on income forecasts (the law will also apply to local councils) as well as convincing them that to make use of their own regulations regarding budget stability. It is intended to be a kind of 'spending regulation', more flexible than setting a fixed ceiling, that will be based on cycles of four years.
The tunnel for the high-speed AVE train being constructed under the Eixample neighbourhood of Barcelona is due to be completed tomorrow (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Following 16 months of work, during which residents, politicians and religious leaders voiced concerns about security and the possible consequences of the drilling, the tunnel has been completed with no major issues. The work started in March 2010 at the crossroads of Mallorca with Bizcaina, and will finish at Provença with Entença in front of the Modelo prison. The tunnel runs from Sants-Estació to Sagrera (which will be the main station for the AVE in Barcelona, once everything is completed), a distance of 5.6 kilometres. The majority of this, five kilometres, has been dug using the Barcino drill and the route passed by various sensitive areas, such as that by the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and other Modernista buildings without problems. In the end, all the work was done without the the streets under which the drilling took place sinking by even a milimetre, when the company behind the construction, ADIF, had said in advance that it could lower by up to three milimetres without there being any risk.
The number of private dockings at the Port of Barcelona has fallen by 20 percent in a year (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The director of the Marina Port Vell, Gabriel Sandoval, said that the reason for this was the increase in taxes that in recent times has been experienced in the sector. “Taxes have been increased at state level and foreigners prefer to go to more economic destinations, such as Croatia, Turkey and Greece," said Sandoval. He explained that the cànons (taxes) paid by leisure ports to the administrations that manage the space. "It's difficult to give exact figures, but prices have gone up by about 20 percent on average." The majority of tourists with boats that come to Barcelona are foreigners who are following routes through the Mediterranean, and in the past years, the city has become a must-visit spot for many of those sailing in the area, thanks to its tourist attractions and the quality of the services on offer at the port. However, things now seem to be changing. "Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, we hadn't suffered in this sector as much as we are now," commented Sandoval.