I had another of those conversations about running a business in Spain this week. It was with a good friend who runs a very successful photography business in Mallorca. When she started to live here she had a meeting with a gestor who told her the minimum amounts of money she would have to earn to make it profitable to be legal, and she said she almost didn’t bother trying. She’s a gifted photographer who speaks fluent Spanish and English and she is delivering a top notch service, you’d think that this would make it easy to make money. No, gestor fees, the taxes and the autonomos charges cripple a small business, it’s exhausting to have to keep your head above all of this and stay in front of your declarations, and that’s on top of your actual business and whatever that requires.
Now this week in Spain there has been a change in several laws. Firstly you may have heard about the Google News shutdown for Spain because the Government decided, (in a spectacular show of how little they understand the internet or promotion) that Google should pay to use any news clippings that they pull from newspaper websites. Then there is the new gagging laws whereby if I or you decide to peacefully protest, about what…? Ooh, let’s see perhaps we would like to protest about the ridiculous cost of running a small business in Spain or the corruptness of politicians… Well you can’t do that now, you can receive a fine of (are you sitting down?) 600,000€
It’s as if they are deliberately trying to disable us and make us more reliant upon the state, as if we’re all idiots who can’t think for ourselves. Or perhaps I am being too “conspiracy theory” about this, perhaps, actually it’s the Government are the idiots and really have absolutely no clue of how to get the country out of recession. Because we are still in a recession. There are 700,000 households in this country (how many actual people is that? 2 million people? Perhaps) who have no access to any income at all. AT ALL. They have dropped off the benefits radar and have nothing at all coming in because they have remained out of work for longer than they are entitled to benefits. How about incentivising these people to start businesses or work for themselves in a legal way? Wouldn’t THAT not only give everyone encouragement to start but get the economy moving again? Currently they are planning to give a very small new benefit to some of these households starting in January, but it’s not enough, more people need to be picked up, dusted off and presented with opportunities that they can legally take. We need a business revolution, and it needs to be more than just a discounted autonomo fee which is currently on offer, that’s not going to solve it.
There’s a general election next year: just around the corner. A change could be made to push Spain out of its malaise and backward facing policies, and into the 21st century like the rest of Europe. If you have the right to vote in that election make sure you look at the policies of the parties, and please, please register to vote at your local council offices, there is a deadline for registration so do it now.
First published in the Euro Weekly News on Thursday 18th December 2014