Most Spaniards are all dark skinned

Spain discusses basic income for the poorest

Some saw it coming, for others it just had to come: a Spanish version of the much discussed German Hartz IV instrument. "The moment is not opportune," says Catalan economist José María Gay de Liébana. He understands the northern European EU members who, in view of such debates in Madrid, do not want to pool the debts of the south through joint loans and the criticism from the Netherlands that Spain has apparently miscalculated and wasted money over the past ten years: "If we don't finally start to reduce debts seriously, then we will get stuck as a society ".

Spain's government deficit is officially still around 100 percent of gross domestic product, and new debt last year was 33 billion euros. The Spanish savings banks think tank Funcas expects to add another 100 billion this year due to COVID-19. This debate about a "Spanish Hartz IV" was instigated by Consumer Protection Minister Alberto Garzón, who raised the subject a few days ago in a radio interview. There is "broad consensus" in the government, Garzón said, but stressed that this money should only be used by those most affected by the crisis.

Black economy, illegal workers and bogus self-employed

All efforts to reduce Spain's debts are thus in vain, even though the country carried out the necessary reforms after the crisis in 2008 much better than many of its neighbors. Since then, all forms of corruption have also been tackled harshly by the Spanish media. The big problem, however, remains the shadow economy. Owners of apartments who collect the rent black, as well as the millions of illegal workers and bogus self-employed are reducing tax revenues.

Minister Garzón: "Broad consensus"

According to various estimates, between 20 percent and 30 percent of the gross domestic product is still managed by the tax authorities. In the current crisis, however, it is precisely the illegal workers who work without a contract who are now unable to take advantage of a lot of state aid because they cannot prove any failure. In addition, there are still around 15 percent unemployed from before the Corona crisis.

It depends on how and for whom

While it is surprising that the former Spanish investment banker and current Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Luis Guindos, pleads for the introduction of a minimum pension, the Madrid economics professor Javier Morillas demands clear rules, should they come: "All other benefits would then have to be cut so that the administrative effort is minimal ".

The banking expert, whose mother died as a result of a corona infection, demands that the government now pay great attention to health and the activation of the economy when spending: "I don't want any ideological debates now," says Morillas. But everyone knows that Pedro Sánchez's government partner, the left-wing Unidas Podemos, would prefer to introduce a universal basic income.

According to the current state of affairs, however, the planned instrument looks for the first time like a kind of Hartz IV version in Spanish style. According to newspaper reports, a monthly payment of around 440 euros is planned to cover the basic needs. This would mean that a recipient would have to continue looking for work, since - unlike in Germany - in principle there is no child benefit or housing benefit as a source of income.

"Spain is just catching up with it. Countries like France and Germany have long had basic security for the poorest and weakest in society," argues Miguel Otero from Madrid think tank "Real Instituto Elcano". The Spanish labor minister Yolanda Díaz assumes that around five of the 47 million inhabitants could currently have the right to receive this basic security.

Spain is late again

What annoys Fernando Fernández, who teaches at the Spanish IE Business School, is the point in time when Spain is currently fighting for European funding: "It is understandable that we do not make a good impression when, as now, long-term instruments in the middle of the discussion about short-term Corona -Bring bonds on the way. " During the debate, he warns of global debt and the dangerous cycle in which Spain finds itself.

Spain has always been a low-wage country with an average gross wage between 1500 and 2000 euros. However, the cost of living is not much lower than in Germany or France, for example. "That is simply not enough to survive for many. The state can raise minimum wages as Sánchez has already done. But 950 euros a month is still very little money and if the economy does not follow suit, the state has to pay for the people who live in fail the system, "believes political analyst Otero.

Empty tourist magnet "La Rambla" in Barcelona: "If eight million come this year, we'll be lucky"

The single parent Álvaro Rodríguez, who is severely affected by the curfew, also agrees: "But I just have the impression that too many people here in Spain are taking advantage of such instruments". Even before the crisis, the 47-year-old was barely able to make ends meet with the income from his food truck business: "I get annoyed about people around me who can work and don't do it. I have zero tolerance for system fraudsters and tax evaders. "

When there is no longer enough basic security for the poorest

In fact, a lot of money is seeping away in Spain and there is a lack of a culture of savings in companies and households. According to newspaper reports, the cost of the basic social security that is now being discussed would amount to around 5.5 billion euros per year, which would drive the deficit up by 0.1 percent.

Miguel Otero, who knows Germany and Switzerland very well, has no doubt that Spain's catching up with Northern Europe is urgently needed in terms of basic social security: "For many months we will not experience normal tourism in our country, which attracts 84 million foreign holidaymakers every year If eight million come this year, we'll be lucky ".

Sergí Martínez, a top Spanish chef who has been swinging the spoon for hospitals and old people's homes these days, because his two restaurants in Madrid and Catalonia are closed: "What I am currently seeing in terms of human misery in Spain surpasses what I am in some respects in my 15 years as an architect in Africa. "