Photo by Tracy Gilbert
Terence Morris in action
The Catalan government is considering cutting the child benefit payment for children aged three to six years old except for the most needy families (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Speaking on the radio station RAC1, the Generalitat secretary for the family, Ramon Terrassa, said that it would be very difficult for the government to continue with such benefits that have been paid in recent years as a result of the difficult financial situation in which the Generalitat now finds itself. Terrassa said that the government's main criteria was prioritising those families that really needed financial assistance; if it proves impossible to continue the payments to all families, then a means testing system would be introduced. The matter is still being examined and won't be decided one way or the other until a new Generalitat budget is finalised. There are currently 150,000 families still waiting payments due to them from 2009 and 2010 for this child benefit, equivalent to around €150 million, which Terrassa says haven't been accounted for and will need to be part of the 2011 budget.
Not content with dominating the football season, the basketball teams of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are also leading the way in this year's season, with the two starting as favourites in the Copa del Rey competition, which kicks off this evening (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). All the pointers indicate that it will be the two long-time rivals who will end up facing each other in the final taking place on Sunday. Eighty countries will be showing the match live and more than 600 journalists have been accredited for the game, proving how the profile of the competition has grown in recent times. The captain of Regal FC Barcelona, Juan Carlos Navarro ('La Bomba'), said that the ideal final would see Barça take on Madrid but pointed out that there are two complicated matches to play before getting to that stage. "We'll be making a mistake if we don't go match by match and we don't think about Joventut because it's a rival that, if we don't do things right, can make life very complicated for us," he added, demonstrating the familiar Barça prudence.
Thirteen people have been arrested around Spain charged with defrauding the treasury of €11 million of VAT payments (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The Spanish police carried out arrests in Barcelona, Viladecans, Alfàs del Pi and Alicante, amongst other places, according to the Spanish interior ministry. Those involved are alleged to have created 14 fake companies and eight organisations to act as fronts for their illegal operations. The companies were used to provide goods on the European intra-community market but sold them without VAT and thus at a lower price than the market average. Yesterday, the Tax Authorities revealed details of its fight against fraud; in 2010, it managed to recover €10,043 million through the application of the Plan for the Prevention of Tax Fraud, an increase of 24 percent compared to 2009. Since the Plan came into force in 2005, more than €45 billion has been recovered from fraudulent activities.