Economic headlines today cover two themes: the fall in the number of house sales here and the growth in financial help for families in difficulties. In the first four months of this year, the housing market saw sales drop by 34 percent compared to the same period in 2008 (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). House sales of second-hand property (43,2 percent) fell significantly more than new builds (24.6 percent). In addition, the number of families that have members no longer eligible for unemployment benefit and have to live on the minimum help that the Generalitat offers has shot up (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia); up to the end of April, demand was already 80 percent of that for the whole of 2008.
Catalan President José Montilla has distanced himself from the relaunched campaign for regional identifications on licence-plates here, which would make it legal for cars registered in Catalunya. to display CAT as well as the existing E for España (article in Catalan, Avui). Although a president for the spokesman says that he is in favour of the move, he doesn't believe that now is the most appropriate time to seek a change to Spanish law as it's not a priority. The spokesman said that the initiative was an individual move by the Generalitat's Minister of the Interior, Joan Saura and taken forward by the Servei Català de Trànsit (Traffic Department) and that no agreement had been reached by the Catalan goverment on the issue.
From today, members of the Catalan police force, the Mossos d'Esquadrà, will have to wear their agent number clearly displayed on the right-hand side of their uniforms (article in Catalan, Avui). With this move, they join the Guàrdia Civil and Spanish National Police force, who have had to wear their number since last year. The Mossos have had six months to implement this change and it includes anti-riot police who have never had to carry identification like this before. The only time when this rule will not apply is when police are wearing their official dress uniform.
The Spanish Health Ministry has announced that in three months time, it will be possible for the public to buy the morning-after pill (la píldora del día siguiente) over the counter at the chemist with no need for a doctor's prescription and with no age limit (article in Castilian, El Periódico de Catalunya). Making the announcement, which comes as a result of the growth in unwanted pregnancies in Spain, the Health Minister Trinidad Jiménez said it was important to remember that the pill should not be used as a habitual form of contraception.
FC Barcelona-watch: two days ahead of the final of the Copa del Rei, Andrés Iniesta has said that he will be fit to play in the Champions League final in Rome on May 27th. The injury to his right leg, suffered on Sunday evening at the Camp Nou, is, according to Iniesta, not as serious as previously thought and he says he will be ready to take part in the match against Manchester United.