Thursday, December 19, 2013

All above board

The former mayor of Bigastro, Raúl Valerio Medina, gave his testimony yesterday in court regarding allegations that illegal bonuses of up to 37,000 euros had been paid to various residents in the town. The beneficiaries included his own father and friends.

In his defence, Medina said that the exemption from paying council tax and motor vehicle tax for these individuals were covered by ordinances that had been passed at council meetings at which the current mayor, Charo Bañuls was present. He added that the council had failed to send that documentation to the court which would prove his innocence.

Medina went on to claim that his father paid 2,099.07 euros in tax and benefitted from a bonus of 200 euros which he says is quite different to the sum of 1,750 euro bonus that the PP say he was given.

Of course we have to remember that, at the time that these ordinances were passed, the socialists were in power with a majority of seats and therefore were able to pass whatever they wished. I very much doubt that the PP  voted in favour of giving bonuses to residents in this way. The strength of the case now rests on whether the decisions of the council at that time were legal or not.

As I have said before, I believe that the problem for Spain during those boom years was that there was insufficient control over local and even regional government affairs. They were able to get away with passing laws and regulations that should never have been allowed. Corruption at that time was virtually endemic, allowing politicians and their friends to “feather their own nests” at will. Now, ever so slowly, “the chickens are coming home to roost” and those that were in power are being called to account for their actions. 

Ironically, the socialists in Bigastro still have control with one more seat than the party in government and so it is technically possible to out vote them. However, I doubt that they would even attempt to pass anything which whiffed of nepotism.  

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