Pope Benedict XVI will definitely visit Barcelona this autumn, according to a report today in Vida Nueva magazine (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The magazine, which quotes sources from the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, said that the Pope could confirm his visit today, at the end of a planned General Meeting; it would be the second time that Benedict XVI has visited Spain following a trip to Valencia in 2006 for a World Family Meeting. During this new trip, forecast for the end of October or start of November, the Pope is expected to consecrate Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia cathedral as well as visit Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the city at the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrim route. While the dates for the visit are yet to be confirmed, it is thought that the Pope will be in Spain for just one day.
The general vice-secretary of the governing Spanish PSOE party, José Blanco, has voiced confidence that a cross-party strategy to deal with the current financial crisis is a possibility (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Speaking to Spanish public radio ahead of the second round of talks between the different political parties, which are due to start today with a meeting between the PSOE and opposition PP party, Blanco said that, having read the document of proposals from the PP, he was in agreement with around 70 percent of what they were suggesting. Blanco said that he had spent the night reading the proposals from the PP and it gave him hope that an "important agreement" could be reached between the two, which have clashed in the past over how to handle Spain's economic problems. Talks will also be held this week with members from the smaller parties with seats in the Spanish congress, including Catalan parties Convergencia i Unió and Esquerra Republicana, and the Basque National party.
Business experts and affected companies have shown skepticism in the face of the governments anti-crisis plans to create 350,000 jobs (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). A significant part of the Socialist's plan is based around creating jobs through 'restoration' works on properties by offering reduced tax rates to construction companies that carry out these works. However, while a law requiring the ‘technical inspection of buildings’ that are 20 years old (so-called flat 'MOTs') is supposed to encourage ‘restoration’ works to be done on properties, the law also states that any restoration work carried out has to be worth at least 25 percent of the value of the property for companies to take advantage of the lower seven percent tax rate—this therefore often excludes smaller projects such as the installation of a new bathroom or kitchen, or the laying of a new floor. There is general confusion, too, over what exactly comes under the definition of ‘restoration’. Gonzalo Bernados, a professor at Barcelona University, also believes that the problem is more fundamental than a question of definitions and that the refusal of many financial entities to provide credit for reformation work is causing difficulties for the sector.
Also in the news: Spanish public broadcaster RTVE faces strike by workers today (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Catalan interior ministry wants nightclubs and bars to use technology to control number of clients for security risks (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Suicide now responsible for more deaths than traffic accidents in Spain (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico)