Lisbon pressured on new hospital ; Azores think on Madeira proposals ; 75th visit award

Today’s Photo Thanks to Karen  … View from Pico dos Barcelos

madeira news blog 0911 karen view from Pico dos BarcelosIt looks very familiar to me Karen, perhaps someone sent in a similar one? Lovely view.

"Funchal is by far among one of the prettiest places we’ve been so far on this cruise. We we docked, we look out over our balcony to see that the sun was shining and all the white buildings with the red roofs were sparkling in the sunlight". Lots of photos, and a bit of mickey taking too. CRUISERS PRIVATE BLOG

The Madeira specialists  have updated or revised their website ATLANTIC HOLIDAYS

"The World Centre of Excellence for Destinations (CED), a World Tourism Organisation (WTO) institution, has assessed the Madeira Islands as a tourist destination based on 15 parameters". I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT’S ALL ABOUT?

This weekend’s football : Marítimo host Olhanense tomorrow at 4 pm. Nacional make the trip to Leiria on Monday with the kick-off at 8.15 pm. Neither game is televised. The game between Benfica and Académica on Sunday is on RTP at 8.15 pm.

Have a jolly good weekend!

Many thanks to Elaine once again for yesterday’s top news stories :

Lisbon almost forced to give money for the new hospital. The possibility of the State providing capital for the construction of the new Hospital of Madeira is nearer. All because the CDS-PP delivered a draft resolution urging the Government of the Republic to regulate what the Regional Finance Law provides: "The establishment of projects of common interest between the Republic and the Regions." In the document the centrists recall that 30 months after the law is in force, the decree on these projects, which are promoted for strategic or national interest, was not elaborated and approved and impedes the Autonomous Regions to nominate projects and works for this important financial instrument. Following these rules, the Assembly of the Republic asked the opinion of the Regional Government and the Legislative Assembly. Jardim has already decided in favour of a move to proceed with these rules as soon as possible. Apart from having a view applicable to the new Central Hospital of Funchal, the reason behind this initiative of the centrists, the type of project the Regional Government would like to see the State finance is the access to the maritime station at the port of Funchal and the fishing port at Câmara de Lobos. The Regional Government asks for haste in approving the law, so that it enters into force in time for the Regions to obtain funding for projects in the next State Budget. With this political will in Madeira and the support of the opposition in Lisbon, applications for projects of common interest could soon be a reality. The classification of a project as being of community interest is subject to approval by the Government of the Republic and the Regional Government, so the final decision is down to Jose Socrates. Even if the decision is positive, little is known about the conditions of financing by State funding.

Seismic activity of magnitude 3.7 on the Richter scale felt in Madeira and Porto Santo. The Institute of Meteorology noted at 12.05 yesterday, an earthquake of magnitude 3.7 (Richter) with epicentre about 16 kilometres North of the island Deserta Grande. The intensity reached III on the Mercalli scale (from I to XII) and was felt in Machico, Santa Cruz, Caniço, Funchal and Porto Santo. There was no record of any damage and some people asked the authorities for assistance. It was the second episode in less than two months in the same area; on 23 October 2009, 2 km away, activity of magnitude 2.8 Richter or grade II/III Mercalli.

Santa Cruz launches a program for the Christmas period to promote local trade. The Municipality is launching a program from December 9 to January 13, called ‘What is ours is good!’ In an effort to boost local businesses, customers are to be rewarded for buying in the county. For every 10 Euros of purchases, the customer receives a voucher that can be entered in a tombola. The draw will take place on January 16 but the value of the prizes will not be determined until the number of traders taking part is known.

Industrial parks are full. The Business Park in Câmara de Lobos is to build 11 new units due to the high demand from regional businesses. 12 units have just opened and there are 5 in Funchal and 5 in Ponta do Sol opening early next year. By 2011, there will be a total of 50 units. The Government’s strategy has been to create infrastructure and incentives for the regional economy to maintain levels of production and income. The park has been built so that industrial units are not in urban and residential areas, and to provide better technical and working environments.

‘Casa Pretoria’ fraud in Catalonia linked to Madeira. The Casa Pretoria fraud case has its epicentre in Catalonia and is being investigated by a top Spanish judge, Baltazar Garzon. There are links with various tax havens in Andorra, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Portugal and Madeira. The case relates to crimes of conspiracy, money laundering, corruption and falsification of documents to illegally divert European Cohesion Funds. 21 people have been indicted, of which 5 are in custody. Most are businessmen or hold senior positions in Municipalities in Catalonia. Results from investigations into real estate transactions have so far detected crimes in three municipalities to the sum of 44.4 million Euros. A member of the Socialist Party of Catalonia, Luis Garcia, was the instigator of the fraud. A business close to him was awarded a development project by municipalities involved in the fraud. The money received for favours was laundered through tax havens. Money invested in tax havens was used to purchase land which was subsequently reclassified through a network of middlemen and commissioning agents.

Promoting tourism occurs without any money. Promoting tourism affected by default of 2 million. Turismo de Portugal has not transferred 800,000 Euros and 1.2 million has not been transferred from the Regional Budget to the Association of Promotion of Madeira. Out of a budget of 5 million, this is a shortfall of 40% with less than 25 days until the end of the year, resulting in defaulting. With the 4 + 1 + 1 rule: for every 1 euro private funding, add 1 euro from the regional budget and 4 Euros from Turismo de Portugal. Turismo de Portugal refused to transfer money without regional authorities doing so, and is in the process of settling the payment of the remaining 30%. This is causing distrust and contracts amended by some operators. There is unease because the Regional Government has ended the extraordinary boost in funding and although the Regional Secretary of Tourism has an increase in budget, the Promotional Association will have a 2.3% cut in funding. In addition, there is uncertainty about the Government investing in emerging markets rather than the tradition markets of the United Kingdom, Germany and France which represent 47.8% of the tourists.

Carlos César says the Azores have not yet decided to support the proposal of Madeira. The President of the Regional Government of the Azores declined today to reveal its position on the proposed revision of the Regional Finance Law presented by Madeira, as they are still evaluating the document. During the election campaign for parliamentary elections, Carlos César repeatedly supported the Azores being positively discriminated against in relation to Madeira, arguing that it is an archipelago of nine islands, which have different needs than one that has only two islands in close proximity. The president of the regional executive, who is also the leader of the PS – Azores, criticized the actions of the opposition parties on the continent as they are not in government. "The opposition says the Government has not realized that it does not have an absolute majority in the Assembly of the Republic, but the truth is that the opposition does not yet understand that it is not in government."

Tourism honours German couple. The German couple, Egon and Astrid Roes have visited 75 times. They received a certificate, bouquet of flowers and a toast of Madeira Wine. Astrid Roes said he liked much of the island and when people asked why they favoured the island, he said they liked to experiment, and the island had always something to find, even after dozen of trips.

VII Meeting of the Africans People. 7 December in the Municipal Gardens, Funchal at 20.00. Music, dancing and food. There is a small African community in the region, only about 300 Africans.

Madeira reaches EU target for education. Madeira has managed to achieve some of the goals set by the EU for the level of education for 2010, others are still being achieved. 100% of children under 5 years are in pre-school education, 87.2% attendance at school and 100% at Basic Education are learning English. The drop-out rate of 12% still needs working on. Portuguese and Mathematics results are good at year 4 but decrease at year 6 and again at year 9.

Corruption in the police? Commissioner Roberto Fernandes is the commander of the police in Funchal and also leads the Public Relations Department of the Regional Command. But his past is overshadowing his career. When sub-commissioner of Câmara de Lobos in 2004, there were two incidents involving members of his family where there are allegations of falsification of the evidence. Based on an anonymous letter, alleging abuse of power, falsification and denial of justice, the Public Ministry began an investigation. This is awaiting a court hearing. His name is not ratified in the Official Gazette, possibly due to the pending court case.

The news headlines from today’s front page of the Diário de Notícias :

‘Over the top’  operation at the arrival of Lobo Marinho – PSP, GNR, SEF and public prosecutors (?) searched cars and seized drugs yesterday evening on Porto Santo. The police, national guard, border and immigration control (amongst others) got wind that something was up, and were waiting for the Porto Santo ferry as it landed at the golden island yesterday. Searches were carried out, focused on the 37 cars that were being transported, and drugs were seized. The Diário says that it was waiting for an official statement on the matter and had no more details when going to press.

Funchal Council want the Madeira Government to pay ‘freebies’ of the hotels – Touristic usefulness in question. Under regional laws new constructions (particularly hotels in Funchal) can be exempted from paying council tax, at the decision of the local authority, that being the Câmara Municipal of Funchal (CMF). A great incentive for attracting investments in tourism, and great business for those investors, but of course it all leaves a gaping hole in the CMF coffers, a hole that has to be filled with local taxes from other IMI payers in Funchal. So some bright spark in CMF proposed that these losses should be paid for by the government of Madeira, and this was voted on and accepted in a council meeting. So now CMF will be the ones who approve all plans for new ‘touristic’ investments, and the ones who give the discretionary exemption of IMI taxes, and then ask the government for reimbursement from public funds, at the cost of all the taxpayers of Madeira. Good business for Funchal for sure.

Riu ‘chain’ starts in Brazil through the hand of the Madeiran Estêvão Neves. This is a hotel chain that has decided to enter the Brazilian market, thanks to a Madeiran businessman. A bit out of scope for this blog me thinks.

Today’s top news story : Jardim switches budget of Sócrates for €100 million – The PSD national is in tune with the strategy of the president of Madeira : The ‘orange benches’ guarantee the approval of the redistributive budget if there is a guarantee that the document contemplates increased debt capacity for the region. No time for me today to do this top story today, but if someone else is willing to translate, here is the LINK 

Rubbish piles degrade the roads of Porto Moniz – cans, paper, plastic, iron and even mattresses thrown on the public highways, a damaging scenario for the landscape in the district. The ‘population’ is breaking the law by dumping rubbish in areas where they shouldn’t be. An action that prejudices the attempts to attract more tourists to the area. As well as the rubbish already mentioned, there are washing machines and chairs, just dumped on the roadsides. The president of the council of Porto Moniz said he had no knowledge of such ‘tips’, but said that as soon as he was made aware he would have the areas cleaned up, and try and identify the offenders. What a disgrace! There are several photos, one even worse than this one. Some tourists will find this all quite attractive of course, more specifically the four legged disease carrying hairy kind.

… and of course the big football story : Draw pretty unfriendly for the World Cup – Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea. These teams will be the opponents of Portugal in the 2010 World Cup, that starts in June in South Africa. The draw, full of stars, decided that we play in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban. You heard it first on yesterday’s blog comments, with live coverage of Portugal’s fate, probably first on the internet worldwide. But what a contrived lottery it was, they might as well of picked out the four semi-finalists and not bother with the rest. And yes it was full of stars, if you can count that idiot Beckham. This is what a reporter for the UK Daily Telegraph said : 

"Seriously, what is it about David Beckham? Not only did he steal the show before the 2010 World Cup draw in Cape Town, he got a ticket onto the main stage, a kiss from Charlize Theron, and then stood there smirking … they clearly love him more than ever. Becks may look like a lesbian barmaid with his new half-mowed haircut, but put him in a room with suits and cameras and strange things happen".

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7 thoughts on “Lisbon pressured on new hospital ; Azores think on Madeira proposals ; 75th visit award”

  1. I had a stroll round Ribeira Brava last night and enjoyed the Christmas lights and decorations. It is a very good layout and brings a feeling of happiness and good cheer to the town. Well done to the dozens of workmen who have worked on the installations over the past couple of weeks.

    Reply
  2. According to todays newspaper the inauguration of the Ribeira Brava Xmas lights is today.

    I know the electricians etc. were still installing the lights yesterday evening right up until the time they were switched on, so I reckon they switched them on to test everything was working OK, and then didn’t switch them off again. Sort of made the inauguration today a bit pointless really.

    The other laugh is in the gardens of the council, where they have a giant presepio (nativity scene) and the gardens are all lit up beatifully at night with thousands of bulbs around the trees. I would say it is worth a visit after dark as it is quite enchanting in the gardens, but unfortunately the council offices and gardens are locked up by the time it gets dark. Same thing as last year!

    Reply
  3. Up to yesterday afternoon that presepio had only just been started. There are some lovely lights at Lugar do Baixo this year but only along one side of the road so it looks like they were funded by the local busineses there.

    Reply

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