A week of news and views from the Algarve
How many of us are there? It seems incredible that in a European Union with rules and regulations for pretty much everything, we do not know how many foreign nationals live in each of the union’s member countries.
The United Nations reckons there are 1.2 million Britons living outside the UK, but within the European Union.
The UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) says there are 890,000 British expatriates but this is based on Eurostat data gleaned from the various 2010/11 European censuses.
Perhaps conveniently and with a view to the UK’s forthcoming Brexit negotiations, the ONS states, “We believe it is better to use the more detailed census data in order to estimate the number of British citizens living abroad,” i.e. the lower figure.
Have 310,000 nationals simply vanished or does the UK’s government want to focus on the lower ONS expatriate number which could make any concessions that affect Britons living overseas look less harmful.
As for Portugal, no one has even been able to give an accurate figure for the number of Britons living here on a permanent basis.
Those living ‘under the radar’ in Portugal, and there are many, well may face some difficult post-Brexit choices if the authorities here insist on registration.
At a time in European history when things were not quite so friendly, the British Destroyer, HMS Westcott, pursued and sunk the German U-boat, U-589, on February 2nd, 1942.
The British picked up 41 survivors but one of the U-boat’s officers, Ltn. Walter Sitek, managed to swim 6 km to the island of Pico in the Açores.
The U-boat has lain, undisturbed on the ocean floor, ever since, until discovered by Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen in a project funded by a foundation involved in the exploration of the undersea world around the Açores.
Hopefully, the remains of the U-boat will be left undisturbed, which at 870 metres depth is likely.
As for Walter Sitek, he got back to Germany and continued to harass Allied shipping, ending the war with two Iron Crosses.
Portugal’s Prime Minister has been out and about, trumpeting Portugal’s improving economic figures and lower unemployment level. He visited Leiria to announce, or maybe I should say ‘re-announce’ an ambitious project that will see Portugal ‘ride the crest of the wave into the 4th Industrial Revolution,’ – his words, not mine.
This will cost €4.5 billion and aims to equip 20,000 staff at 50,000 companies in IT skills. All well and good, as this is not Portuguese taxpayers’ money but a grant from Brussels.
Portugal does have many advantages in the world of technology and the promotion of the country as a start-up hotbed should be matched with a close look at the taxation rules which still, to my mind, discourage entrepreneurs in all sectors, not just in sexy, web-based projects.
Why then does the prime minister insist on pushing an oil and gas exploration agenda with no regard at all for those affected?
In defiance of Portugal’s CO2 commitments and emphasis on renewable energy technology, the government, just like the last one, seems dedicated to bowing to the oil companies while letting them get away with as much as they can get away with.
The latest upset is the granting of a drilling licence to Galp-ENI to sink a test well off the Aljezur coast in direct opposition to just about everyone in the south of Portugal.
By ignoring a 42,000 signature petition and sneakily signing off the deal, hoping no one would notice, the government has taken many of its citizens for fools and will be assured soon enough that this most certainly is not the case.
The following news items were posted last week alone:
Gonçalo Amaral, former police inspector and author of ‘Maddie. The Truth of the Lie,’ has seen Kate and Gerry McCann lose their appeal against a judgement that Amaral was within his rights of self-expression in publishing his book.
The €500,000 in damages sought by the McCanns will not have to be paid, not that Amaral has this sort of money in cash or assets, dependent as he was on donations from well-wishers to pay his legal fees.
So, the Madeleine McCann case continues after her disappearance on May 3rd, 2007, with no leads so far.
Another girl that went missing in the Algarve, but was found in the woods four days later, murdered.
The prime suspect of the murder of Bruna Nunes was her stepfather, Mikhail Rasvan Oprea, who fled to Romania in December 2014, a couple of days after the 17-year-old's disappearance.
It has taken more than two years for the police to take this case seriously, to find out where Oprea was living and to arrange his extradition despite it being pretty obvious from his behaviour that he may well have had something to do with Bruna’s brutal death.
The suspect is back in the Algarve under lock and key and the sooner this case comes to court, the sooner Bruna’s mother can start to rebuild her life.
Another investigation that seems to have taken an age before formal charges were posted is that of corruption within Portimão council.
The former Deputy Mayor of Portimão Council, Luís Carito and councillor Alcalador Jorge Campos, join 19 defendants on various charges of corruption that cost ratepayers an estimated €4.6 million.
The two principal defendants were on the board of municipal companies Portimão Urbis and Portimão Turis and it is the use of these council-owned businesses for self-enrichment that Carito, Campos and the others, are to be tried for.
The events in question happened between 2009 and 2013, and include the Cinema City project that long ago was identified as a fraud just waiting to happen. As for the mayor at the time, the free-spending Manuel da Luz, he has been let off as the prosecutor believed his explanation that his deputy dealt with matters financial so he did not know what was going on.
I mentioned in an earlier newsletter that this will be ‘the year of the court case,’ and so it is proving to be, including a case starting in Lisbon involving a money laundering team that used high street banks to clean up drug money.
Individuals, and the owners of companies Money One and Transfex, are being prosecuted.
The main defendant is a Brazilian, José Augusto Martins, who joins 30 defendants including Banco BIC officials. This Angolan-owned bank has a statement on its website for those worried about money laundering,
“Following the publication of numerous legislativeenactments, pursuant to the streamlining of legal provisions geared towards preventing the crime of money laundering and financing of terrorism, the main aim of the present Internal Policy is to establish fundamental operative control procedures to be adopted in dealing with this issue.”
Around €150 million was neatly laundered through Portugal’s high street banks including, Barclays, BIC, Novo Banco, Millenium BCP, BPI, Caixa Geral and Montepio all of which of course are dedicated to stamping out money laundering, not aiding and abetting it…
Will José Sócrates ever end up in the dock? The answer is ‘yes’ but as to ‘when?’ this will remain under wraps until March 17th by which time the prosecutor will have to charge the former PM with something, or drop the case and years of detailed investigation.
In fact, the prosecution is putting the final touches to a lengthy charge sheet and, with just a few more witness statements to hear, is pretty much ready.
In the meantime, the Silver Fox spends his time blathering on at press conferences and now says he is suing the government for being unfair.
Nothing is Sócrates’ fault, all allegations are without foundation, he is innocent as the Virgin Mary and the whole list of trumped-up charges are politically motivated, or so he would have us believe…
And now for more good news, this time from Loulé where the council finally has got the builders in to fix up the once wonderful Art Deco, Café Calcinha.
The council decided to buy the site in 2014 and only now are having the building renovated.
Councillors clearly have been in no hurry to reopen this business for it to pay its way but I am sure the builders will make a good job of this careful refurbishment.
A large grant is heading towards the Algarve’s Cultural Directorate to repair four of the region’s most important monuments and to install a visitors’ centre at the fort in Sagres.
The inbound moolah, a sizeable €4.3 million, is from the CRESC Algarve 2020 programme so again Portugal can thank the northern European taxpayers for their involuntary generosity.
Company News: one of our many new advertisers has sent in a list of reasons of why private airport transfers are preferable for many travellers - and cheaper than traditional taxis, plus there are no last minute problems over car seats for babies and toddlers.
Algarserra also runs golf party and theme park transfers for holidaymakers who have no need to rent a car but want occasionally to get from A to B and back again in comfort.
Holidirect, the new lettings service that puts holidaymakers directly in touch with property owners, has taken the time and the trouble to ask its customers what they think of the service so far.
The result has been a complete review of the pricing structure to encourage the listing of a wider range of properties. The result has been a flood of new bookings. The good sense of asking your customers’ opinions, is evident.
Another new advertiser is a performance car sales, paint and auto-tuning company in Loulé with one of the rising ads on the algarvedailynews.com website ('Preserve your Paint, Protect your Investment') taking readers to the Stars & Friends website.
This prestige auto company also has an ECU remapping service. With the performance-map you not only gain horsepower and torque in the engine, but the engineers change the gearbox so shifting is as seamless and powerful as possible.
If, however, you want to save fuel, the company offers an ECO-map which reduces consumption up to 20%.
The company's direct link is: http://www.starsandfriends.pt/
Worth a look if only to drool over their stock list: http://www.starsandfriends.pt/stocklist
With all this talk of Tesla coming to Portugal to build a factory, the name has certainly got around.
The US company is introducing its cars to Portugal but what of its renewable energy products?
The Tesla Powerwall 2 is that rather attractive battery storage unit that hoards the energy your domestic photovoltaic system produces.
This system now is available from Tesla’s appointed Algarve distributor, SHS Systems in Almancil. Congratulations are due to SHS for signing up with such a prestigious supplier.
The February edition of Enjoy the Algarve magazine is available on this link. Well worth a read and, as ever, the photography is stunning.
News you may have missed last week:
For those readers that are fed up with Armação de Pêra flooding every time there is some...
Ricardo Salgado’s cousin, José Manuel Espírito Santo, is losing his house as the trick of registering the...
As Portugal’s prime minister goes out and about, telling all and sundry that the country’s finances are...
The saga of the directors of Caixa Geral de Depósitos who refused to hand in their income...
Holidirect, the holiday rental property portal, now have a NEW pricing structure. WE HAVE LISTENED to our property owners and...
Views, Vineyards or Village Life, whatever your preference is Beverywhere.com have a selection of distinctive properties for sale in Portugal....
These have been seen very early this year so be careful! I have...
Income tax and surcharges The income brackets and tax rates for personal income...
First the Brexit referendum, then Donald Trump. In 2016, investors were surprised...
The majority of holiday destinations in the Algarve lie outside the Faro...
Sculpture exhibition "Figurantes” by Nogueira Lopes at Vale do Lobo Art Gallery, 3rd February to 8th June 2017. Free Entry.Vale do Lobo Art Gallery’s latest exhibition in collaboration with the...
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