Impressive, ah? Part I. Spain.

February 25, 2012 by Atidaryta

For politicians, modesty is not a core value in any country. Generally those striving to be re-elected tend to always boast if there are reasons, and sometimes – when there aren’t. Spain is not an exception, and I don’t know what is more impressive – megalomaniac projects that contributed to the country’s enormous debt or the stance of the responsible politicians.
When any of them (Jose Maria Aznar? Carlos Fabra? Francisco Camps? – you name it) appears in public, he would smile and tell a nice story about his contribution to the welfare of the community.
He would end asking: “impresionante, heh?”. And you nod – Yes, very impressive. To build and maintain airports that are not in use, or to chase China in terms of high-speed railways – it is impressive.
Several weeks ago, in western Spain, just near the border with Portugal, a brand new Badajoz Airport escorted its last international flight. Simultaneously, it became the fourth ghost airport in Spain, a live proof of previous attempts to spend as much money as possible and to have more reasons to boast.
Another now ripped Spanish airport of Ciudad Real was constructed in late 2008 and until now has not served a single passenger. But the most famous of the four, located in a most indebted region of Valencia, was “opened” in March last year. “Opened” means that politicians and businessmen with no intensions to fly anywhere, gathered to the bombastic event in a Castellon airport, cut the symbolic ribbon, and went home leaving a 150 million worth airport to decay. To say truth, they left it beautiful, with a huge avant-garde sculpture in front of the façade, which, though called an abstract, to some reminds features of Calrlos Fabra - the initiator of the airport (he calls the airport “his own” and keeps bringing guests to show them empty runways), trial-friendly member of PP.
Gracefully, money-wasters thought of everything, so now its not only the remaining debt for the construction of the airport or a 30 million worth advertising campaign, but also some regular expenditures, such as salaries of staff in the customs or 90 thousand per year on special measures aimed at scaring birds and small animals – so that they “do not undermine the departing and landing aircrafts”.
Politicians excuse that the airport project was born in Valencia in hope to expand tourism. But they better be silent, since only 50 km away there is another international airport.
Obviously, the ability to lose money with no regret is endless. For example, in 2006-2008. Spanish government decided to promote biofuel production, so 30 new plants were constructed for this. Unfortunatelly, they were build without any sense of how they will be provided with raw materials and, even if the raw material existed, how it would be delivered: some of these factories were built just in an open field, some of them - more than 400 km from the nearest sea port. Result of this ingenuity is evident. Half of the 36 biofuel plants in Spain is currently closed while imports of biofuels in the country continues to grow, and local producers account for only 9 percent of biofuels.
Another equally economically wise decision was to finish 483 km high-speed railway line network in 2010 and connect several directions between Madrid and Valencia. They say it was worth it, because Spain became the second in the world after China by high-speed train line length. Who cares that many of these lines fall into a ghost list because of a low passenger traffic.
Ministry of Tourism and Commerce website finds more things to boast of - Spain is a strong leader in terms of the highway road system. For example, in Spain, highways account for 5.9 percent of all roads, meanwhile EU average is 1.2 percent., USA - 1.4 percent., Japan 0.6 percent. However, according to the GDP (which could justify such investments into the infrastructure of the country), Spain is thirteenth in the world.
To go even further, the new Spanish Government, which will have to cope with anormus budget deficit (+/- 8 pct) provided a plan to double the kilometres of motor-ways which now reach around 1,300 km, and to do it by 2015. Having in mind that in recent years EU subsidied or, for a nominal interest rate, lent over 17 billion euros for highway constructions, and now subsidies will be cut, it means that a similar amount of money will be spent by the government itself (or at least a significant part, other paid by concesion partnerships).
Impressive, ah?
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