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News from the Canary Islands News2 from the Canary Islands

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A Reduction in the Number of Property Sales for the Canary Islands

News from the Canary Islands

Sales of property in the Canary Islands have reduced by 10% when compared to 2015, which goes against the national trend. 4340 homes have been sold since September, representing a drop when compared to the previous year.

Since September 2016, 102,216 homes were sold across Spain, the highest number since 2009, showing a year on year increase of 8.7% year on year.


You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

http://news.thecanaryislander.com

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​Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Buy a Fat Christmas Lottery Ticket!

News from the Canary Islands

The El Gordo or Fat One Lottery will soon announce its winners, and this news is important as the prizes are worth this year around 2.31 billion euros, and gives the highest lottery pay outs in the world. So Canarians and Spanish tend to go a little mad, and might be seen in a queue for long periods to buy their ticket and be in with a chance of becoming a millionaire this Christmas. It is actually even larger this year, with the top prize of El Gordo being 4 million euros. Wow! However, the total prize money for 2016 El Gordo is 2.31 billion euros that is shared with other winners with smaller prize amounts.

Is it easier to win in the El Gordo Lottery than the Euromillions Lottery? Yes, the odds of winning are much better, and this is placed as a one in six chance of winning a prize. In 2015, around three quarters of adult Canarians and Spanish bought a lottery ticket and often spend around 60 euros as an average amount each Christmas.

The lottery results are called or rather sung by children from San Ildefonso School in Madrid on national television on 22 December. You can buy El Gordo Lottery tickets online or at lottery kiosks or shops. However, the system of tickets is complicated, as specific numbers are available at specific lottery shops, as the numbers are similar. Often the winners with the highest prizes are in the same area, but if you want a special number, you need to buy these online or travel somewhere else.

Ticket numbers are repeated up to 165 times, so winning means sharing the prize with 164 other people. One tickets costs 200 euros, but you can buy parts of a ticket at 20 euros. Some individuals buy a share of a 20 euro ticket called a portion or participaciones and could cost 1 euro.

The San Ildefonso School was originally an orphanage for boys, who sang the results on 22 December, but from 1984 girls also joined in singing the lottery results. These children sing the number of the ticket and then how much the prize will be. Almost all residents of Sodeto in Spain won El Gordo in 2011, except one Greek resident who did not buy a ticket as he did not realise the importance of this lottery. These residents won from 100,000 euros to 1 million euros each from the total El Gordo prize of 120 million euros.

One word of warning. If you win a prize worth more than 2,500 euros, then this has been subject to 20% tax since 2013, but an 80% prize is better than nothing like the one resident of Sodeto who did not buy a ticket. So who wants to be a millionaire?


You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

http://news.thecanaryislander.com

Remember to sign up with your email address for your FREE weekly online copy


​No More Distracting Road Signs in Gran Canaria

News from the Canary Islands

Driving along the GC1 motorway from Las Palmas to Mogan in the south of Gran Canaria, motorists and tourists arriving at the airport for their holiday are exposed to many illegal distracting and aggressive advertising bill boards. Not only do these pose potential risk of motorway accidents as they are often distracting to drivers, but the Gran Canaria Government believes that these illegal roadside adverts give a negative image of the island for visitors.

At present, there are over 100 illegal bill boards with advertising in the Telde municipality by the side of the GC1 motorway, and represent around three quarters of these bill boards placed illegally. Carmen Hernandez Jorge, Mayor of Telde is strongly supporting this initiative, and plans to remove these in a few months. The cost of removing these illegal advertising signs is expected to be around 300,000 euros, and these costs will be met by the Island Government.

The aim is to first concentrate on removing illegal bill boards in the Telde municipality of the GC1 motorway, and then focus on other illegal advertising over the full length of this motorway. If this proves to be successful, this initiative will be replicated along the GC2 motorway in the north of Gran Canaria.

It is hoped that after Easter 2017, the four million tourists arriving at the airport throughout the year will have a better visual image of their holiday destination on their journey to their hotel or apartment. It is hoped that many of these illegal signs will be taken down by those responsible for erecting them, but if not, those responsible will be subject to legal action and large fines.


You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

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​Christmas Arrives on Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas

News from the Canary Islands

Las Palmas in the north of Gran Canaria continues its traditional Christmas celebrations with an amazing experience of a Nativity scene or Belen carved in sand sculptures on Las Canteras Beach. This unique experience is currently attracting thousands of visitors to see the story of Christmas displayed in sand with shepherds, sheep, traditional houses, three kings with camels and Mary, Joseph and Jesus. There is also a sculpture of a local scene of Roque Nublo in the centre of the island, and pine forests near Teror with an image of the Virgin Mary at prayer, who appeared to local shepherds hundreds of years ago. Watch out too for a distant view of Mount Teide carved in sand.

Professional sand sculptures have worked hard for many weeks to design and create this artistic and spiritual display that reminds visitors of the origin of Christmas in a way that is unique and memorable. In the first three days of being opened, over 23,000 adults and children came to see this amazing exhibit on Canteras Beach, and by the side of hundreds of holidaymakers sunbathing on the sand or swimming in the sea.

For many tourists in Gran Canaria, blue skies, warm sunshine, sunbathing and swimming, beautiful scenery and a place to relax and escape from the winter weather in other parts of Europe are some of the reasons for making their journey to the Canary Islands. However, for those lucky enough to be visiting Gran Canaria now and until 6 January, they can jump on a bus to Las Palmas and head for Las Canteras Beach, which is close to Santa Catalina Park, and remind themselves what Christmas is really about and take back photos and memories from a work of art created from sand.

This Belen de Arena or Sand Nativity is open each day from nine o’clock in the morning until ten o’clock at night, and entrance is free. However, visitors are encouraged to give donations, which support local charities in Gran Canaria and these would be very welcome. Come to the Belen for something different, artistic and spiritual!

You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

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​Changing Times for the Canary Islands

News from the Canary Islands

Clocks have a different time in different countries that are based on measurements from the Greenwich Mean Time Line, so travelling from one country to another often means changing the time on your watch. The Canary Islands time is the same as the UK, but Spain time is one hour ahead. Both of these times based on the geographical location of the Canary Islands and Spain are actually wrong in terms of their relationship to the Greenwich Mean Time Line. Why?

During the Second World War when Nazi Germany had invaded most of Europe, Spain was involved in a civil war, and although Franco in Spain was also a fascist, he did not want Nazi Germany to become involved in Spanish politics. Therefore, at one historic meeting on a train at the border of Spain and France, Franco and Hitler met to come to an agreement, and Franco offered a conciliation to Nazi Germany of changing Spanish time to be the same as Germany that was different by one hour.

The current Spanish Government has now accepted that to humanise, modernise and rationalise the lives of Spanish people in the mainland, the country should change the time of clocks to the correct time of Greenwich Mean Time and the same as the UK. Canarians and Spanish often work from nine o’clock in the morning and finish work at around eight o’clock with a long lunch break or siesta and other shorter breaks, but most face an 11 hour working day. This means that workers tend to eat with their families at around nine o’clock in the evening and go to bed around midnight.

These times do not correspond with businesses and offices in other European countries, and makes international business communications difficult for Spanish companies, who could benefit from changing to a working day from nine to five and would be similar to other countries. Workers could benefit by spending more time with their children and family members, and enjoy longer periods of sleep and eat family meals at an earlier time. It is also suggested that changing time will be healthier for workers and they would work more productively.

However, this raises problems for the Canary Islands that are in a different geographical location, as the correct clock time should be one hour earlier than Greenwich Mean Time, so no longer the same as the UK. If the Spanish Government does change its time to become more accurate, and hopes to improve work productivity and meet the needs of the Spanish people better, UK visitors will not need to change their watches when they take a holiday in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, but holidaying in the Canary Islands will then require tourists to turn their watches back one hour.

The Spanish newspapers are reporting confidently that the current government will pass this legislation, so expect confusion in flight times any time soon!


You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

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​Sugar, Cigarette and Alcohol Taxes Increased

News from the Canary Islands

Spain has a current budget deficit of 5.1% of GDP and has agreed with the EU that this must be reduced, and it is expected to drop to 4.6% during the current year, and is projected to reduce to 3.1% in 2017. The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristobal Montoro, also forecasts that the budget deficit of Spain will reduce to 2.2% during 2018, which effectively meets the EU target for all European Countries.

However, the Spanish Government only has a small majority, and so it needs the support of the PSOE Labour Party that has been demanding greater social awareness of the hardship imposed by austerity measures on the lowest paid across all the regions. A compromise has been forced on the Government, so that the minimum wage will be increased in 2017 and taxes will be increased on cigarettes and other tobacco products and on all alcohol products to meet the need to reduce the budget deficit, but not to cause more harm to the lowest paid in the Canary Islands and Peninsular Spain. Also, a new sugar tax will be introduced to help reduce obesity and improve health by discouraging people from drinking so many sugary drinks by raising tax revenues.

Large companies will also contribute more to increased tax revenues, as companies will be given less rebates on their taxes, but the 25% corporate tax rate will not change. This move will provide over 4 billion euros for the Spanish Government. Unemployment is another serious issue that is being addressed by the minority Government in response to the Labour PSOE opposition party and other smaller political parties. Many workers in Spain have contracts that are short term and lack stability for them due to changes in law introduced in 2012 that gave employers greater flexibility to hire and fire workers. Although the right-wing PP Government claims that this has led to unemployment being reduced in recent years, opposition parties claim that this reduction is more likely to be linked to many Spanish people looking for work in other EU countries and fewer migrant workers looking for employment in Spain. However, Spain still has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the EU and only Greece has a higher rate.

Currently, the public debt of Spain is predicted to be 99% of GDP in 2017, but is predicted to fall to 95.4% by 2019. Therefore, these tax increases on cigarettes and alcohol, as well as the new tax that will be applied to sugary drinks, such as cola and lemon drinks, should help Spain to reduce its deficit and encourage healthy lifestyle choices for local people by reducing their consumption of sugary drinks, alcohol and to reduce or stop smoking, or pay more taxes to help the country’s finances. These appear to be positive measures, but also likely to be unpopular with many Canarian and Spanish people.

You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

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Minimum Wage Increase for Workers in Spain and the Canary Islands

News from the Canary Islands

There are many people in the Canary Islands and Peninsular Spain who struggle to pay for basic needs of food and a home, as they are paid the minimum wage each month or even less than this. The Labour Party in Spain, better known as PSOE or the Socialist Party, have been demanding that the Spanish Government, controlled by the right wing PP Party, give more help to those who are struggling to survive across the Spanish regions.

The PP Government has a very small majority, and needs the support of opposition parties, so this pressure from the Labour or Socialist Party in Spain has resulted in the Government agreeing that in 2017 the minimum monthly wage for workers will be 825.50 euros, which is an increase of 61.10 euros. The Labour Party had agreed with the Spanish Government to support plans to further reduce the current budget deficit with the EU, if the minimum wage was increased in the national budget planned for 2017.

This demand will give great support for workers who are struggling to survive, and this increase is the greatest for 30 years with an 8% rise. Spain and the EU have agreed that the country will further reduce its current budget shortfall from 4.6% to 3.1% in 2017. However, the CCOO and UGT workers unions claim this increase is still not enough to meet the needs of the lowest paid in the Canary Islands and Peninsular Spain, but did welcome the success of the PSOE Labour Party in achieving this increase. Therefore, to highlight the demands of these two large unions for the government to respond to social needs and to stop the current policies of austerity there will be protest days across various regions of Spain on 15th and 18th December. This is positive news for the lowest paid workers, and higher than in Portugal where the minimum monthly wage is 618 euros, but much lower than in France where the minimum monthly wage is 1,467 euros. Some good news at last!

You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

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​Funding for Canary Islands’ food producers who demonstrate excellence

News from the Canary Islands

New grants designed to support the local agricultural and food industry have been announced by the Canary Islands’ Government Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Water. The fund, which will be used to support and promote local food producers in the islands, will total around €330,000.

Those producers who reach the required standards will be able to use a dedicated logo on their produce to demonstrate the quality that they have achieved. Grant applications are required to be submitted before the 2nd January 2017.

You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

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​Political Conflict between Canary Islands’ Government and Spain

News from the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands’ Government has always strongly supported the people of Palestine and highlighted their current plight, and had planned to demonstrate this solidarity by raising the flag of Palestine. However, this statement of support for the people of Palestine had to be suspended when Enrique Hernandez Bento, the representative of the Spanish Government, stopped this action through the courts by claiming that this contravened the law.

This action exploded into vicious verbal attacks on Hernandez Bento by Canarian Government representatives, who accused him of suppressing free speech, working for Israeli Zionist movements and attacking the local Palestinian community currently living in the Canary Islands. However, this did not stop the Canary Islands’ Government approving a statement that gave its full support for the people of Palestine, and issuing a press statement that also accused the Spanish Government representative of attempting to stop the local government from supporting other causes, such as the treatment of the people of the Western Sahara, domestic abuse and feminism.

Carmelo Ramirez, the Minister for International Solidarity for Gran Canaria, described the Spanish Government representative as incompetent, only interested in central powers of government and using threats to intimidate the Canarian people. The Minister said that he was shocked by the actions of the Spanish Government representative, but that the Canarian Government would continue to plan more acts of solidarity for people across the world, as well as creating support groups for those in society who need better recognition. So, Enrique Hernandez Bento clearly knows what the Canarian people think of him and his actions – perhaps more diplomacy is needed and understanding that the Canary Islands is a self-governing region.

You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

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​Spying on Sharks in Gran Canaria

News from the Canary Islands

Observing and monitoring the activities of sharks and other sea creatures in the coastal regions of Gran Canaria have always been difficult and dangerous, but now there is a large floating observation platform called Plocan or Plataforma Oceanica de Canarias moored just off the coast of Jinamar near to Las Palmas. Although clearly visible above water, a section of the 30-metre tower has been lowered into the sea to enable scientists to observe underwater life more easily.

This floating scientific laboratory will remain in operation until 2021, and is funded by the Canary Islands’ Government and the Spanish Ministry of Economy at a cost of 54 million euros. Plocan can accommodate up to forty scientists who will use the laboratory to test equipment and record the species in this part of the Atlantic Ocean to a depth of 30 metres.

The angel shark is currently threatened with extinction in some parts of the world, but is relatively common around the coasts of the Canary Islands. However, many people may not recognise this sea creature as a shark, as it looks more like a ray with a flat body, and mostly lives by hiding in mud and sand during the daytime, and then hunts for food at night. This summer, local residents were shocked to read that Marc Crosas, a footballer that plays for CD Tenerife, landed an angel shark on a beach in Tenerife, and was subsequently fined 10,000 euros, as this shark is a protected species.

Organizacion ElasmoCan has been conducting a study of the angel shark around the Canary Islands and has identified individual angel sharks and tracks their movements and patterns of life. Therefore, this scientific group will also be joining other groups aboard the Plocan to monitor these angel sharks.

This scientific observatory should begin to receive its first scientists in January 2017, and if local people or tourists travel by bus to Las Palmas, they might just see what they think is a house floating in the middle of the sea, but this is the only example of a floating scientific laboratory in the world, and is undertaking ground breaking scientific work and protecting endangered species, such as the angel shark.

You can find this and other news stories from the Canary Islands and Spain in the free 'News from the Canary Islands' paper:

http://news.thecanaryislander.com

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