The Spanish Crisis from an Immigrant point of view
By Adewale T. Akande, Author and Road Traffic Safety Consultant, writes from Alicante, Spain.
View all articles by Adewale T. Akande
Spain, to my own view as an immigrant living here for the past one decade, is specially created by God as the Galilee for the world people to see and feel the beauty of nature. This natural endowment makes the country, one of the greatest travel destination in the world with its largest number of world heritage cities surrounded by outstanding beaches on the coastline. It is the second most visited country in the world, with more than fifty million tourists visit annually. A land full of opportunities for all and sundry. The country is blessed with rich cultures and traditions with non-stop festivities throughout the year. The architectural designs of the buildings and roadways are second to non in Europe. The people in this large geographical and cultural diversity country are kind and friendly in all ramifications. Spain has the most best weather in the whole of Europe. Spain is the most accommodating of all European countries visited by me. Spain has surprise the whole world with her spontaneous economic growth, rapid credit growth, and the real estate boom between 1995 and early 2008. By mid-2008, the chronic recession emerged from the collapse of housing sector when the Spanish banks were unable to raise sufficient fund to provide the mortgages needed for the houses bought by the people. This led to four million, three hundred and thirty-three thousand people out of jobs, as at March, 2011, according to the Labour Ministry, for the first time in the history of this great nation. As at now, thousands of families were evicted from their homes, over one million families with not a single employed in the family and forty-five percent unemployment among Spanish youth. The present crisis is rendering Spanish companies financing more expensive and continue to lose ranking among world business circle as recently published by the Fortune Magazine’s annual ranking of the 500 largest global companies. First and foremost, working so hard since I got to Spain, the country has given me everything to make me fulfil all my desire in life. I will be an ungrateful if I should close my eyes at this trying time of the nation acute recession and not provide my token contributions with my pen in finding solutions to the present economic crisis. I strongly believe that all the indigenes (Spaniards) and immigrants are part of the problems, and all should be part of the solutions. Everybody must unite, contribute, support and endure to make government additional measures and reforms to put people back to work, restore economies to sustainable growth and fiscal development. It is only a collective effort from all and sundry that will bail the country out. The issue of Spain crisis is not new. There is no country in the world that have never suffered from economic crisis since its inception in one form or the other going by the world history. Shifting blames will never do the country any good. The two political parties Popular Party (PP) and Socialist Party (PSOE) have to unite to bring back the country on its feet. The case of Spanish crisis is something temporal that will make the country to correct her past mistakes and create better opportunities for bright future. Obviously, the present recession has contributed in a negative way to the welfare of the citizens, most especially the old working families who are out of job due to the economic crisis. Most of them have been driven from their houses for not been able to meet up with the monthly mortgage (hipoteca) bills. The government have to look into this issue. Most people that have resulted to survive living from the remnants of the roadside dustbins are now indigenes and immigrants out of jobs. This unemployment problem has increase the rate of crime in most cities. The government have to give great attention to the issue of working and non-working families, making it easier to balance work and family, so that they can climb to the ladder of success and raise their children with security, opportunity, and great hope for the better future. Excessive tax extortion from the citizens, especially the working families at the expense of privileged few and special interests make them to work for government and banks all their life Meanwhile, on the issue of the present political leadership and good governance. Spain has enjoyed a progressive and vibrant democratic system since the ratification of the 1978 constitution after the death of Franco. Leadership decision should be decided by the people with their sacred votes. The people are well informed about the situation of the country and should be well informed about political leaders of technical capability, integrity, patriotic, accountability, transparency and good governance to lead them out of this crisis. The incidence in many regions of Spain where a particular regional president or local government chairman (alcaldes) stays in power for twenty or twenty-five years is inimical to democratic principle and breeds corruption. Effort should be made to improve political participation and close the gap between the government and the citizen..
The fraud in the social security system has contributed to the lean purse of the government. Thousands of small scale businesses employ without contract agreement talk less of paying their employees social security (seguro social) to the government. On domestic employment, out of over million of Spanish households that have help at home, less than one-third pay social security for their employees. The government should take a drastic step and provide effective control, monitor and reduce to minimal the social security for private entrepreneurs and domestic employers to avoid exploitation and non-payment of the social security to the government.
Moreover, on the issue of Bureaucracy and Corruption. The government should improve on the present stifling and red-tape in bureaucracy, challenge conventional thinking and worn ideas for necessary growth and development of the country. The government should take a bold step and wage war against corruption in all sectors. Greater transparency at government agencies and asset-declaration of some political leaders should be looked into at inception of duty. Corruption is dangerous to democratic growth and progress. It undermines the welfare and well-being of the people. The issue of corrupt leaders top the news agenda of the most Spanish news media agencies in the last few years. The high level of human development in a country depends upon low levels of corruption. The same as the government workers salaries was reviewed few months ago, so also is very important to cut down some expenses of some politicians ranging from additional benefits, supplement pensions and privilege allowances. The ultimate goal of participation in politics is to give service and enhance the common good of the citizens, recourse to extra-legal mechanism to bring peace and progress.
Meanwhile, it is no more news that the Spanish youth facing high jobless rates and dim prospects demonstrated in all city squares across the country. It was indeed a grass-root movements. Their grievances was about the soaring rates of unemployment in the last two years and low family economic and social security. The “indignant ones” or the 15-M Movement as it was called clamoured for series of measures aimed at reactivating the economy and curtailing high unemployment from the government. The youth are definetely the leaders of tomorrow as they will fill the vacant posts in the nearest future. The government should addressed critically to creating jobs and family economic security.
The issue of immigrants that came to Spain in search of a better life has been a major controversy issue that have divided the nation since the beginning of crisis. There is no doubt that influx of illegal immigrants also aggravated the crisis further. There is no country of the world that there is no immigrant. Immigrants has contributed so much to the development of this country’s economy and culture. Immigrants with genuine intentions, professional inclined should be given opportunity to come to Spain, work hard, contribute to the nation and realise their dreams of living in freedom and providing a brighter future for their children. And those who come here legally or illegally with criminal intentions and human trafficking should be dealt with the law of the land and shown the way out if found guilty.
On educational sector, the first thing I noticed on my first job here in Spain was the increased numbers of youth that left school for collar jobs. The government should provide all Spaniards the opportunity to get a competitive, world-class education from cradle through to adulthood. More investment should be made on education with goals to march twenty-first century skills,good character and well informed citizenship. More investment on science and technology, bringing more responsibility and values to classrooms, encourage additional learning time and recruit, prepare and reward teachers accordingly. Chris Ormell, defines “education is pleasant maturation surprises...the young people who emerged should occasion such pleasant surprises, because they will actually enjoy displaying the disciplined mental powers which today’s world so urgently needs, both in relation to things and people”. There is no doubt that a highly educated and skilled workforce will be critical not to individual opportunity, but to the overall success of economy as well. It is a known fact that education responsibilities are being transfered to the Autonomous Communities, but some of them are not doing far better in areas of pupils discipline, courses reduction, shortage of staff and materials.
Finally, the Spanish health sector is the best in Europe. Effort should be made to recrut more Spanish health professionals and save the country enormous bills paying to private hospitals. This is time for the government to shift activity to invest more on world-class education, long term investments in science and technology, domestic research, provide legal permanent-resident visa programs and temporary program to attract skilled professionals, strengthening social security, engage in export-oriented activities, enhancing labour market flexibility, promote energy independence, protecting workers’ pensions and boosting potential output to get families back on their feet. These additional vital reforms will boost the economy and launch the country back not only to its old position of the most fast economic growth and price stability in the Europe, but to the super power of the world soonest.