The Almeria Focus – December 2021

Page 40

A 2021 Spanish Snapshot


majority of the 11 million clients who pay for their electricity on the variable hourly rate that will result in a drastic reduction in price, probably not before the second quarter of 2022. The subsidies for vulnerable or low-income users have been increased, known as the “bono social” and we explain how this works in our “In the News” section.

he good news throughout 2021 in Spain has been the fall in COVID-19 cases, the high vaccination figures, and the relaxation of restrictions. Wearing masks in indoor spaces will continue “at least until the flu season is over” or it may be until Easter. The present regulation that school children wear masks is being reviewed as the vast majority of children aged 12-15 have been vaccinated, and transmission between children under the age of 12 is a minor problem. Health authorities in Spain, and therefore Andalucía, are preaching caution that people should not be complacent. There are worries that people meeting up over the Christmas period may cause a spike in numbers, and if a new variant emerges this could cause problems. In other parts of Europe, restrictions are in force, in some cases comprehensive ones. In midNovember in Germany, numbers of new infections per day went over 65,000, more than the 3540,000 in the UK. In the Low Countries social distancing was reintroduced, and bars and restaurants had to close by 8pm, with a 6pm closing time for non-essential shops. In Austria, people not vaccinated were confined to their homes and with 800km of borders, people entering had to quarantine. In Rumania with only 35% of the population fully vaccinated, there was a curfew from 8pm-5pm for non-vaccinated people and they could not enter non-essential establishments such as shops, bars and restaurants. Thankfully, all these types of restrictions are lifted in Spain. Unfortunately, as in other European countries, inflation in Spain at the end of October was 5.4%, the highest for 29 years. At the end of October, compared to October 2020, electricity had gone up by 62%, diesel 30.5% and petrol 26.5 %. There has been a reduction in taxes on the price of electricity, and if these had not been put in place, the overall inflation would have been 6.2%. At present there are no concrete proposals for the

Last September, Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s Prime Minister, promised that by the end of 2021 the cost of electricity would be down to the level in 2018, plus inflation. He will need a very large hat, to pull out a very large rabbit, to keep this promise. The cost of butane and propane gas has gone up by 33%, and natural gas for dwellings has gone up by 11%. The rise in fuel and electricity prices has led to a 7% increase in a reference “basket of products” that we all buy, and Spanish lorry drivers are planning a three-day strike immediately before Christmas. It is not much consolation, but the average inflation throughout Europe is 4.1% and 6.2% in the US. Some prices have fallen in Spain such as wine and liquor by 2.2%, frozen vegetables by 2.3% and nuts and dried fruit by 2.4%. International flight costs have fallen by an average of 2.2% and internal flights within Spain by 3.5%. These price reductions help the inflation figures, but do not help the majority of consumers. Hopefully, as we move into 2022, inflation will come down. The COVID19 pandemic will not disappear, but ideally it will be fully controlled in Spain, with life almost back to normal.


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