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Friday, October 21, 2005

FIPE under attack

FIPE being attacked

Per Svensson

FIPE and I personally have been attacked and slandered by socialist representatives in the Valencia parliament this year, as every year. Nothing new, the new is that this time I will answers to the accusations.

A socialist representative by the name of Jose Camarasa has accused the Valencian government, the Generalitat, in squandering 540.000 Euro from 1998, on an office “that has not been an organism for the development of the Spanish citizenship, but a concealed election office for the PP”. And he continues, saying that “90.000 Euro was given yearly to the foundation for salaries without anyone being employed, and where the only known activity was the participation of Per Svensson on PP meetings”.

The minister in Generalitat for the Public Administration, Miguel Peralta, admitted in his answer to Camarasa, that in the past there have been “certain formal deficiencies” in the administration of FIPE, but that they have been corrected “almost in its totality”. The only thing now missing was a plan of viability for the entity.

I can add that we have on several occasions had auditors in our office, appointed by the Generalitat, and that not one Euro or any asset is found missing.

Minister Peralta stressed that “he was absolutely convinced that the foundation had done an adequate work among the foreign residents”

A difficult birth

In March 1998 was signed a letter of intent between then president of the Generalitat, Eduardo Zaplana, the mayor of Altea, Miguel Ortiz and me, representing my company Foreign Property Owners Institute, that had been giving information to the foreigners since 1982, on the creation of a “special organism for the foreign property buyers and owners”. On 20th of October the same year the Valencia government took the formal decision to form the Fundacion Instituto de Propietarios Extranjeros, based on a set of statutes elaborated by the lawyers of the government. The constitution was made before notary on the 6th of November and in the first meeting of the board was approved a plan of work and budgets for 1998 and 1999, with the firm commitment of the government to finance the activity. I was appointed director and told to start implementing the decisions. The escritura of the constitution, together with the statutes were taken by the representatives of the Generalitat to have them registered at their own office for foundations.

In March 1999 I reported to the board that the statutes elaborated by the government, had not been accepted by their own office for foundations, that demanded changes in them. Moreover I complained that the money to finance the start-up costs had not come from the government. In April came a letter of credit, that I had to take to the bank. The bank demanded that I personally give a guarantee for the money, and to be able to pay the costs incurred from the start of the work half a year earlier, I had to do so.

Change in the government

In September 1999 we were informed about a change in the regional government, whereby our president, up to then minister for the presidency, Jose Joaquin Ripoll, had been appointed vice-president of the government without special tasks. For that reason he could no longer lead the board, and the government had appointed the minister of Public Administration, Serafino Castellano, in his place. I had a meeting with the minister, told him about our financial and administrative problems, and he promised to solve them.

In November the same year we had got a set of new statutes that was signed and on the 4th of that month the foundation was finally registered. Up to that date, FIPE formally did not exist, and the board had to use the company I had given the foundation, the IPE, to work as a gestor in the meantime. I wrote several times to the government, making them aware that except the letter of credit from April 1998, no money had come to pay for our work and the salaries of the people that had been employed to do it, and that we were still without a president of board, to be appointed by the government.

It was clear that the difficulties of FIPE were connected with the changes in the regional government that took place. Eduardo Zaplana left the Generalitat and was appointed Minister of Social Affairs in the last government of Aznar. In his place as president of the Generalitat came Mr. Olivas, who had not heard about and had no interest in FIPE. His task was to save money, and we were told to reduce our budget.

Cutting the budgets

From 2000 I had to reduce our budgets, and thereby the work to be done. And reducing the budget meant reducing staff at the office, and paying them settlements. New, non-productive costs, while the unpaid loan from the bank only increased, due to interests and interest on interests. The money finally coming from the Generalitat has mainly gone to pay the interests on the bank credit, while the salaries for the reduced staff have mainly been paid by the income handed over to FIPE from my firm IPE, that is the yearly subscription fee from the members.

For one and a half year the new Generalitat left us without a president of the board. That is the reason for the “irregularities” and “deficiencies” in the administration of FIPE. It is a bit comic when one office of the government draws up statutes, while another office turns them down, that one part of the administration does not answer my letters about the formal and financial defects, while another office admonish us to solve the defects.

The reality is of course that the debt-ridden Generalitat under president Olivas and later president Camps, has seen it as one of their main tasks to cut down on any unnecessary expenses. And to give information to the foreign property buyers and owners has obviously for them not been considered a prime task, even if those purchases give the same Generalitat a great tax income. Could also our continued critic of the perverse LRAU-law and the abuses against many small landowners be part of the consideration?

Señor Camarasa

The socialist party in Spain has never understood the foreign property owners, the European citizens. Firmly based on their lack of understanding they have taken
erroneous positions and made the most ridiculous statements. We remember well that it was the socialist government that refused and delayed the right of vote in local elections for the European citizens living in Spain. We remember well the refusal of the same government to look into frauds committed against foreign property buyers during the years from 1985 to 1989 (the first boom period). The matter had to be referred to the European Parliament that sent MEP Edward MacMillan-Scott to make an investigation. His report led to the excellent law decree 515/1989.

The statements of the deputy from the province of Valencia are very bombastic, that FIPE is only an “electorate office for PP” and that “the only known activity is the participation of Per Svensson on PP meetings”. He must have spent much of his time in or outside our office in Altea to be able to determine our activity, or maybe he is reading our Boletines Informatives, scanning our Short-Information or monitoring our web-page in English or Norwegian?

Nothing of the sort. Camarasa is seldom outside his native Valencia, and when I phone him in the parliament on 21st of this month, he is not able to talk with me in English, nor any other foreign language.

How can he appoint himself as judge of the work of FIPE?

There are some better judges, that is the members, following our work and reading our information for years. I hereby want to challenge any of our members who shares the opinion of Sr. Camarasa that FIPE is an election office for PP and that the only known activity is my participation on PP meetings, to write the deputy and tell him so (with a copy to me, please). The address of Jose Camarasa is Corts Valencianes, Valencia, his phone is 96 387 63 30 and you can direct messages to him over the web-page of the parliament under

I do not expect Señor Camarasa to get many confirmations to his statements. Of course I have been to election meetings of PP in Altea. But I have also been to election meetings of other parties, also the socialist. What does Camarasa make out of that? Or the fact that I am not a member of the PP, but for a quarter of a century in the socialist party of Germany?

The socialists in Valencia does not really care about the foreigners, neither about the money. They just want to hit the PP with any means they can find.

Why have I not answered before?

Some are asking: Why have you not answered to the accusations before, but kept quiet, even when the Spanish and the foreigners publications reproduced the statements of the socialist party?

The answer is that for me the most important thing was that a part of the Spanish authorities had finally recognized the existence of the foreign property buyers and owners as an important group and the need for the administration to inform this group in their own languages. Since I all the time got assurances from the Generalitat that the problems would be solved, I would not do anything that could upset the project. So I shut up and continued the work, even under very difficult conditions.

On a couple of occasions we have given notice to our members in the Boletin Informativo that the Generalitat Valenciana has not complied with their promises and assurances, and that we had come into difficulties as a result of this.

I am fully aware that FIPE and I personally have made a number of enemies due to our consistent information to foreign property buyers and owners, not always to the liking of some promoters and sales companies. As important advertisers in certain publications they are now using their weight to let the shit produced by the socialists hit the fan.

On a board meeting of FIPE in June 2004, the representative of the association Ciudadanos Europeos, Jose Maria Martinez de Haro, and I, told the representatives of the Generalitat that unless the government solved the problems they had created before the end of that year, we would both leave our posts.
What we are now discussing, is the forms of continuing the work. I can assure our members that as long as my health permits it, I will continue the work started in 1982.