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Spanish court orders seizure of ex-Catalan leader’s home

Artur Mas took part in a pro-independence demonstaration in Brussels at the weekend, Photo: AFP

Spain's Court of Auditors ordered on Tuesday the seizure of former Catalan president Artur Mas's home to cover costs generated by the nonbinding independence referendum his government organised in 2014.

In September the court had ordered Mas and eight other top Catalan officials to pay €4.8 million ($5.6 million) with interest of €400,000 to cover the expenses of the ballot, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court.

But they have managed to pay just €2.9 million so far, prompting the court to order the seizure of assets they had put up as a guarantee, a spokeswoman for the court said.

Besides Mas's Barcelona home, the court seized half of a home belonging to former Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs in Taradell, near the Catalan capital, the spokeswoman said.

It also seized properties belonging to three former regional ministers in ..

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Artur Mas took part in a pro-independence demonstaration in Brussels at the weekend, Photo: AFP

Spain's Court of Auditors ordered on Tuesday the seizure of former Catalan president Artur Mas's home to cover costs generated by the nonbinding independence referendum his government organised in 2014.

In September the court had ordered Mas and eight other top Catalan officials to pay €4.8 million ($5.6 million) with interest of €400,000 to cover the expenses of the ballot, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court.

But they have managed to pay just €2.9 million so far, prompting the court to order the seizure of assets they had put up as a guarantee, a spokeswoman for the court said.

Besides Mas's Barcelona home, the court seized half of a home belonging to former Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs in Taradell, near the Catalan capital, the spokeswoman said.

It also seized properties belonging to three former regional ministers in Mas's government.

READ ALSO Artur Mas: How a technocrat became a martyr for Catalan independence

Mas, Catalonia's president from 2010 to 2016, has said the order to repay the costs of the 2014 referendum lacks "any kind of legal basis" and is aimed at trying to "intimidate" separatists.

His successor, Carles Puigdemont, pushed ahead with a banned independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1st, which was marred by a violent police crackdown against voting, and which led the Catalan parliament to declare independence on October 27th.

Spain's central government subsequently dismissed Puigdemont's government, suspended Catalonia's autonomy and called an early election in the region for December 21st.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium at he end of October, fleeing charges sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds over his government's independence drive.

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The post Spanish court orders seizure of ex-Catalan leader's home appeared first on News Wire Now.

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Spain – Gas falls below 90 euros per MWh for the first time in almost two months

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The price of TTF natural gas for delivery next month has fallen below 90 euros on Friday for the first time in almost two months and closes a week marked by the decision of the European Commission to cap gas with a drop of 29, 36%.
According to data from the Bloomberg platform, gas closed this Friday at 83 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), 8.9% less than the day before and the first time it has lost 90 euros since last October 31.
After months of negotiations, the EU agreed on Monday to set a cap of 180 euros on contracts linked to the Amsterdam TTF index with a price difference of at least 35 euros above the average price of liquefied natural gas in the markets.

EU countries agree on a cap of 180 euros for gas with the support of Germany
In a report this week, the Swiss investment bank Julius Baer indicated that the chances of the mechanism being activated are low and pointed out that the chosen formula was not very effective in avoiding the multiplier effect that gas has on the price of electricity. However, he reiterated what was said in other previous reports: “Energy supply risks are minimal and prices should continue to decline in the future” due to the availability of raw materials from Asia to offset cuts from Russia.

Gas tends to fall during the hot months due to lower demand, but this summer it has reached historic heights as European countries were buying to face the winter with their tanks full and reduce their dependence on Russia. The price fell in September and October due to lower demand once the warehouses were full due to the high temperatures at the beginning of autumn, but in November it picked up again and 66% more expensive.

This article was originally published on Público

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Spain – The retirement age rises to 66 years

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Ordinary retirement at age 65 ends for those who have contributed less than 38 years. In fact, 2023 will be the last year in which this can be done since it will be necessary to have a contribution career of a minimum of 37 years and nine months to be able to retire with the reference age of the last century, since it was established in 1919, and once the year is over another quarter will be added to be able to do it without cuts in the benefit.
This requirement means that to access ordinary retirement at age 65 without loss of pay, it will be necessary to have been working, at least, since April 1985 for those who exercise this right in December 2023 and since May 1984 for those who intend to do it in January.

More than ten million contributory pensioners
In the last decade, and coinciding with the implementation of the delay program, the real retirement age of Spanish workers has increased by one year, from 63.9 in 2012 to 64.8 in mid-2022, according to data from the Financial Economic Report of the Social Security included in the General State Budget.

Contributory pensions will have a historic rise of 8.5% as of January as a result of the disproportionate increase in the CPI, while for non-contributory pensions the revision will be 15%. This review will place the average pension of the contributory system at 1,187 euros per pay, while the retirement pension will rise to 1,365, the disability pension will reach 1,122 and the widow’s pension will reach 847, as a result of applying the 8.5% increase.

The Social Security forecasts point to next year, and while waiting to find out the real effects that the rise may have on the payroll due to its “call effect” to bring forward retirement given the opportunity to alleviate with it the penalties for anticipating it, the number of pensioners will consolidate above ten million, with almost two-thirds of them (6.37) as retirees, to which will be added 2.3 million widows and almost one affected by work disabilities.

This record number of pensioners will place the cost of pensions at 209,165 million euros, the bulk of which (196,399, 93.8%) will be used to pay benefits, including non-contributory ones. Health care has a budget of 1,890 million euros and social services another 3,791, while the remaining 7,144 are dedicated to operating expenses.

On the revenue side, the largest contribution comes from the contribution chapter, which will amount to 152,075 million and will leave the gap with contributory benefits at 36,765.
The imbalance will be covered by a contribution of 38,904 from the Government, to which is added a chapter of others worth 18,116 and which includes everything from sanctions to asset disposals, among other concepts.

Read more of this from the source Público

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Spain – Workers protest in Madrid for a wage increase

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Inditex workers have demonstrated in Madrid this Saturday, at the beginning of the winter sales, for a wage increase and “decent” working conditions, during a day of a strike called by the CGT union.
Several hundred people have gathered to protest on Calle Preciados in Madrid in a day of shop assistants’ strike that was called throughout Spain, but which has had its greatest impact in the Community of Madrid.

This concentration occurs after the agreement was reached in Galicia on December 23 after several days of protests, in which the store employees of A Coruña reached an agreement with the group. Under this agreement, store staff, more than 1,500 people in Galicia, will have a monthly increase in salary bonuses of 322 euros during the first year, 362 euros during the second and 382 euros thereafter.

The secretary of the state section of CGT in Zara and Lefties, Ánibal Maestro, explained that the Inditex workers have decided to “take a step forward against precariousness”.

“The benefits are distributed among the shareholders and directors meeting and we demand a salary increase, so that they realize that the workers are the engine”, he has defended.

For their part, the CCOO and UGT announced this week that they will start negotiating with Inditex on January 25 at the state table on global wage measures that offset the impact of inflation in all group companies and in all territories.

Specifically, the CCOO recalled that in recent weeks, and in coordination with the UGT, the firm chaired by Marta Ortega has been asked to formalize the state table throughout this month to address global aspects of salary policy in all companies of the group and in all territories, bearing in mind both the situation and levels of provincial collective agreements, as well as the impact that inflation is having on the purchasing power of the workforce, as well as the commitment to review and improve the system of commissions for Store staff.

This article was originally published on Público

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