TOWNS across the Costa del Sol have been given extra powers to dip into their cash reserves to fight the coronavirus pandemic – but urge they still need more.
Benahavis, among the richest town halls in the province, has a cash surplus of €86 million.
“I cannot have €86 million in the bank while a resident is starving,” said mayor Jose Mena.
But the province’s most prosperous town, with the highest income per inhabitant, has seen its main source of income cut off overnight.
Popular with expats and tourists, the town has the most restaurants per sqm in Malaga, but these have all been closed for almost a week due to the coronavirus lockdown.
“I need them to let me use the money we have in the bank to pay the social security of the workers whose companies are closed, promote employment when the time comes and to revive the economy,” Mena told Diario Sur.
Since 2012, towns on the Costa del Sol have been under a forced state of austerity due to strict spending measures brought in by then prime minister Mariano Rajoy.
Towns were given a spending ceiling meaning they could no longer spend more than the money they earned from industries such as tourism.
It means that today, many of the most popular towns for tourists and expats are sitting on large cash reserves.
Mijas has some €130 million in its coffers while Benahavis, with less than 8,000 residents, is sitting on €86 million.
Alhaurin de la Torre has €30 million while Marbella has accumulated some €20 million.
The government has now authorised town halls to use their cash reserves to battle the effects of the coronavirus crisis, but the mayors claim they will need more.
Mijas mayor Josele Gonzalez says they will not have to battle the virus after, like Marbella, it postponed taxes in the tourism and hospitality sectos.
Alhuarin de la Torre mayor Joaquin Villanova said towns should be cautious in spending all their reserves on the crisis.
The savings have accumulated over more than six years and ‘should not be squandered.’