For public transportation and social welfare, the Government of Spain has extended a 100% subsidy for regular passenger transport in the Canary Islands, which began as a measure to subsidise the economy in the face of climbing fuel prices, including buses (guaguas) and trams, for another year, into 2024. This decision, ratified by the Council of Ministers, is aimed at underscoring the government’s commitment to sustainable mobility and economic support for its citizens.
The agreement to continue this measure has been announced by Pablo Rodríguez, the Canary Islands’ Minister of Public Works, Housing, and Mobility. He highlighted the substantial efforts behind this achievement and its importance in easing the financial burden of the public, while also promoting environmentally friendly transportation. The initiative has already led to a 46% increase in new bus service users since its inception. You can sign up for the Resident’s Bono here
An important aspect under review is the current limitation of 15 trips to qualify for the subsidy. The Government of the Canary Islands is considering removing this cap, which could vary across different islands. This adjustment would further enhance the accessibility and attractiveness of public transportation.
The extension of free transportation is part of a broader set of measures approved by the government, headed by President Pedro Sánchez, under the “social shield” policy. These measures are designed to provide relief and support to vulnerable segments of the population in the face of economic challenges.
Key elements of the social shield include:
1. Suspension of Evictions: A continuation of the decree to prevent the eviction of vulnerable people without alternative housing options.
2. Social Energy Tariff (Bono Social): This involves extending the prohibition on cutting off basic utilities like electricity, water, and natural gas for vulnerable consumers due to non-payment. It also includes maintaining discounts on the electric social tariff, with significant reductions for various categories of consumers.
3. Pension Revaluation: Pensions will be adjusted in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), benefitting over 300,000 Canarians with an increase of 3.8% from January 2024.
4. Extraordinary Taxes on Banks and Energy Companies: The continuation of these taxes includes provisions for deductions on strategic green transition investments, with a review planned for 2024.
5. Reduction of Bank Fees: Elimination of fees for cash withdrawals for the elderly and disabled, and suspension of fees for early repayment or reimbursement of variable-rate mortgage loans throughout 2024.
6. VAT Adjustments: In the Canary Islands, this will have limited impact due to existing regional tax policies. For the first half of 2024, a 0% VAT on basic food items and a reduced rate on others like pasta and oil will continue, although the Canary Islands already apply a 0% rate on these items through their local tax, IGIC.
These measures reflect the government’s comprehensive approach to addressing the economic challenges faced by its citizens, promoting sustainable practices, and ensuring the welfare of vulnerable groups. The extension of free public transportation in the Canary Islands is a significant step towards achieving these goals, offering both economic relief and encouraging a shift towards more sustainable modes of travel.