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The Archives from 2018 news around Andorra as it was!

Let`s see what happened or in most cases what has not!

17th May 2018 - R I P Philippe Gutwirth, Andorra Vascula Surgeon....

Sad news broke yesterday just before 1100 in the morning that Philippe Gutwirth was killed in a private plane crash at La Seu airport yesterday together with another Belgian man. They were practising landings in their small Ultralight Pipistrel Virus Sw when tragedy stuck with reports stating that the plane plummeted nose first into the ground a short distance from the runway. Philippe applied as a passive resident originally in 2014 and spent considerable effort to convince the authorities here to set himself up in practice from late 2015 as the only vascular surgeon in Andorra. He will be sadly missed.

22nd February 2018 - Look out there's a Language Inspector about...

Andorra must be one of the few countries if there are any more that have a little known group of official language inspectors. The Department of Language Policy recently announced that it had last year carried out 213 inspections resulting in 20 fines being dished out (that is 4 more fines than in 2016).  Any establishment that deals with a member of the public, whether a bar, hotel reception, cafe etc must have at least one person who can understand and respond in Catalan as well as all signs and notices being predominantly  in Catalan. If this "undercover" Inspector decides that the place has failed to meet these requirements the owner will first receive a warning and will be requested to comply. If this is not carried out to the satisfaction of the returning undercover Inspectors then fines may follow. Judging by readers feedback to the papers the public believe this is archaic and serves no purpose.

21st February 2018 - A real possibility of an English curriculum school in Andorra from September.

The "auberge de la Comella" is a building and plot of land where the 25 year lease is expiring and which  is currently a type of outward bound hostel. The British College already has a school in operation in Gava near Barcelona. The curriculum is the official UK curriculum PLUS as required by the Ministry of Education a sprinkling of Catalan and Catalan history. If the green light is given on 8th March 2018 then with an initial investment of 600, 000 euros the premises can be ready by the new school year. Initially the school will take 3 to 11 year olds with a view to building on that up to 18 years old. The fee strcuture for its sister school in Gava indicates an enrolment fee of 2,500 euros, a payment of 600 for books etc and then from 9,250 to 10,250 per year from 3 to 11 year olds. This is good news for Andorra, we haven't had much recently in looking through my own ramblings below!!

30th January 2018 - A new form of smuggling in Andorra...not cigarettes but people.

It has been reported that a network of people trafficking from China has been uncovered that has its roots in Andorra. Apparently Chinese can pay a local Andorran company 16,000 - 20,000 euros to arrange a work permit here  through a web of ghost companies with an annual renewal fee of 2,500 to 3,000 euros, and then be shipped off to France to live and work there illegally. The French police claim a staggering 500 immigrants been processed this way, a figure which I am sure Immigration would dispute. In any case 500? And no-one has noticed? Firstly on paper at least there would be a huge percentage increase in the population here which would be 0.7% population increase in Andorra itself  or more sensationally an increase of 1000% in the Asian population? I know a local chinese restaurant here that has been looking for a chinese chef for the last 5 years, maybe there are 500 out there? 500 or so ghost companies set up and no questions asked? Anyway the French have sent a judicial commission and the Andorran authorities are assisting. I can't see there would be much detective work there though? By the way can we have re-instated then the 500 quotas from Immigration!
23rd January 2018 - Sexual malfunction crisis in Andorran delegation to EU.

The latest cross party delegation to try their luck talking to the EU has been politely shown the door in Brussels as they had not read the EU small print ( Who has ??). Apparently 50% of the head of the delegation must be from either sex and in the case of Andorra both heads arrived as blokes!! Obviously a huge step back in these tricky and tense negotiations where Andorra is dictating to the EU what relationship they will sign up to. What other small print has not been read is worrying and has been covered before here....

19th January 2018 - Anyone own a red Audi A4 with a .765 pistol in the glove compartment ?

The police in France and Andorra are looking for a possible Andorran registered red Audi A4 which apparently was involved in a shooting incident in Perpignan last Tuesday night. Cameras picked up what they believe to be an Andorran registration plate. The car drew up alongside another car that was parked and fired 5 rounds from a .765 pistiol into it. None of the occupants of the parked car was hit but it has the hallmarks of a revenge attack in some criminal organisation. Thats about all we know.

15th January 2018 - 75 Detentions for the Festive Period

Between 13th November 2017 and 8thJanuary 2018 the police breathalyser squad were busy testing 2283 drivers at various times of the day and night. From the statistics the night shift from 2200 to 0600 was the most productive (understandably) with 63 of the 76 drivers arrested. As a reminder there is a fine for alcohol levels up to 0.8g/l but arrest for those giving a reading of over 0.8g/l. The fines, license suspension and even prison are determined by the level of alcohol and whether first or subsequent convictions. 63 males and 13 females were arrested, 66 were residents and 10 non-residents, 28 were aged between 18 to 25 years, 25 between 26 and 40 years and 23 were over 40. Statistically that means if you are a male resident aged between 18 and 25 and driving between 2200 and 0600 you are in their sights!! – Don’t let me give the rest of you any false hopes though, drive carefully.

5th January 2018 - La Massana Bypass

Back in the 90's plans for a bypass of the main street of La Massana were drawn up (and can still be seen in many Government buidlings where they proudly show infrastructure dreams - remember the tunnel from Anyos to Santa Coloma!!??). The plans for the La Massana byepass actually became a reality and they started with each end of the said road. Those who know La Massana will see at the roundabout after the tunnels from Andorra a road on stilts that proudly goes nowhere. Also not so easily noticed is the entrance to the carpark at the far end of La Massana under the Cable car walkway where there is also a large road looking structure that goes nowhere over the river. Well the two ends should have been joined together long ago and also with a feeder road directly to Ordino that would have joined the existing road near the "Bombers". This bypass would have run down parallel to the main street in the valley at the back near the river with some nice new tunnels. Then arrived 2008 when the crisis effectively meant a complete halt on Government spending on these projects except the Sant Julia bypass where phase one has already been completed. Luckily or unluckily depending on how you view expenditure, the tunnel between Anyos and Encamp was already under contract and had to be finished. Now after the past couple of weeks when the traffic in La Massana has been worse than a bad nightmare it surely is time to get this back on plan as a priority. Just a thought though.... perhaps to show commitment to Andorra  the bidders for the new casino (see below) could offer finance and invest in the actual country??  That would be nice...dream on !

4th January 2018 - Will 2018 be the year the casino arrives and who is the front runner ?

Before the above is addressed I have not yet met anyone who is in favour of this and if you read newspaper comments this seems to be a widespread opinion. The project no doubt is being spurred on by vested interests. Genting Resorts is one of the front runners of the 9 projects submitted for scrutiny, by whoever, for a final decision in the first half of 2018. Five of the proposals including Genting have Andorran participation from various interests including the Cierco brothers of BPA fame (say no more here !!). Genting is proposing to invest 105 million euros in a 20 storey building next to the Caldea with 4 floors or 6,000 square metres of casino space, and 1,500 square metres of outlets, shops and wellness. Other groups have also submitted various locations. If previous reports are to be confirmed free entrance will be restricted to non residents similar to Singapore where a resident must pay a (substantial) entrance fee. Genting hopes to attract high rollers from Asia and globally, just what Andorra needs. Perhaps they will whisk them in in extreme comfort via luxury helicopter to the new helipad or simply close roads and allow a dedicated border lane to fleets of limousines. It's also going to be interesting for cash in and out. It is difficult enough in the current climate to even make a simple transfer to the UK, what happens when one of these high rollers arrives with a suitcase of Vietnamese Dong? More to the point what happens if anyone actually manages to win, the Spanish fiscal police will be rubbing their hands with glee? Oh well let's see what happens we have no say it seems.

4th January 2018 - Belgium and Andorra to ratify double taxation treaty in 2018.

Belgium is the latest country to agree with Andorra a treaty to avoid double taxation. This adds to the list of countries  that have already ratified treaties, namely, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Portugal, United Arab Emirates (must have been a quick negotiation there!) and Malta. Other countries who it was announced in the past few years could have an interest in treaties include Australia, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary and probably others. Some reports stem back to 2012 so not sure if negotiations are current as there are no further Government updates.

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