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Oct 26, 2009

Spanish banks to double property provisions -source

MADRID, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Spanish banks will have to double
provisions for property taken onto their books as payment of a
debt under a new rule set to be implemented by the Bank of
Spain, a banking sector source said on Monday.

Banks will have to provision 20 percent of the value of
apartments or other real estate for at least a year, the source
said, asking not to be named.

Oct 19, 2009

Discontent spreads among allies of Spanish PM

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is under attack from some of his own left-wing allies, who accuse him of a haphazard response to the economic crisis and of surrounding himself with yes-men.

A former economy minister who served under Felipe Gonzalez, the last Socialist prime minister before Zapatero, has joined his old boss in criticizing the current head of government.

Oct 9, 2009

Zimbabwe’s human rights have improved-Tsvangirai

VALLADOLID, Spain, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Friday people could live in peace in Zimbabwe since the formation of a power-sharing government.

He said that while there were some "toxic issues" for the government he formed with old foe Robert Mugabe this year, he hoped his party could make progress working with the veteran president and eventually be elected in its own right.

"If you were to have come to Zimbabwe last year between March and June, the level of human rights abuses was far higher and now people can live in peace," Tsvangirai told Reuters in the northern Spanish city of Valladolid where he was due to receive a prize for lifetime achievement.

"There has been substantive progress, it’s just that you have got one or two incidents and then it spoils the thing."

Tsvangirai formed the unity government with Mugabe to try to end a violent political crisis.

Tsvangirai himself was a victim of abuses under Mugabe’s government, and was once so badly beaten that his face was barely unrecognisable.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is blamed by critics for plunging his country, once the bread basket of southern Africa, into poverty through mismanagement and corruption.

He has accused his Western foes of ruining the economy through sanctions in retaliation for a policy of seizing white-owned farms for landless blacks.



PROGRESS DIFFICULT

Tsvangirai said while progress has been difficult, he was hopeful his Movement for Democratic Change could work productively with Mugabe.

"Progress is gradual and it cannot be an event. You have to work it on a daily basis and hopefully we can do that within the shortest possible time," he said.

But he said: "There are deadlock issues with regards to certain appointments, the governor (of the Reserve Bank), attorney general, and there are issues of the implementation which have to do with provincial governors."

"Then there are toxic issues, the issue of not complying with the spirit and the letter in terms of the media."

Tsvangirai said an online poll of supporters had provided positive feedback despite the problems.

"I want to tell you the evaluation is overwhelmingly that we should stay in government and make this the direction the country needs to take," he said.

"We have to manage our transition until such time as the MDC can be elected in its own right," he said, adding he expects a date for elections to be set within the next 18 months.

The Zimbabwean government says it needs up to $10 billion in foreign aid to help repair an economy that saw inflation surge to over 500 billion percent in 2008, according to the IMF.

But so far, nowhere near this sum has been forthcoming from Western donors and Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe would need to be weaned gradually onto a greater flow of aid anyway.

"It isn’t a question of having billions of dollars, because we may not have the capacity to absorb them," he said, adding that aid should focus more on development than addressing humanitarian needs.

"So even if at the end of five years the actual amount of required aid is huge at this stage I don’t think that the country has the capacity to absorb those billions," he said.

Tsvangirai was optimistic a reform to the country’s struggling mining sector would address concerns of foreign mining companies, who were worried by an earlier draft they feared would have given locals control of mining operations owned by foreigners.

"We’re doing our part to create conditions that will attract foreign direct investment in the mining industry," he said. (Editing by Marius Bosch and Alison Williams)



Oct 1, 2009

Incentives key as EU car sales soar, US to slump

MADRID/PARIS, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Government funds propped up
an ailing European auto industry in September, in contrast to an
expected slump in sales in the United States after its “cash for
clunkers” scheme ran out of money.

French and Spanish car sales rose sharply, data showed on
Thursday, underpinned by subsidies offered for purchases of new
cars and extending a positive trend from Asia.

    • About Jason

      "Jason Webb has been chief correspondent in Madrid since 2006. He started in Reuters in 1994 as a commodities correspondent based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 2001 was posted to Colombia as bureau chief of the Andean region, with responsibility for Venezuela and Ecuador."
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