The Government Is Falling Short On Its Flagship Plan To Sell Properties Of The State

11/08/2014 – El Confidencial

The property sector crisis has come back to bite the high expectations set by Mariano Rajoy’s government, for which the sector offered one of the primary measures of the so-called Commission for the Reform of the Public Administrations (CORA): the planned sale of part of its property holdings through which it hoped to generate cash. At present, the State has only managed to dispose of 2.134 properties. The number represents just 14% of the more than 15.000 public buildings which the Government expected to sell off in the period 2013-2015.

The sale of properties was one of the primary measures of the CORA Commission, pushed forward by the vice-president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, and created in October 2012 to improve the efficiency of all of the public institutions.

According to the general inventory survey of goods and property of the State, in May 2012, the General Administration owns 53.662 property assets, consisting of 13.952 buildings, 3.756 plots of urbanised land and 39.953 plots of rural land. Using this as a starting point, the Commission created a list of 15.135 properties which it wanted to dispose of between 2013 and 2015. A mass-disposal which included, among others, eight or ten emblematic buildings, as well as homes and urban plots of land such as that of Padre Damian Street in Madrid, whose sale would serve to finance the restoration works on the old building of the National Institute for Industry (INI), which will move to the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry.

Of all of them, as at 30 April of this year, the number of buildings sold was 2.134, of which 1.587 were sold by auction or public tender and the other 547 sold directly, according to the Government’s response to a question posed in parliament by Rosa Díez, the spokesperson of the political party UPyD (Unión, Progreso y Democracia).

The Commission made clear that its work was to “put on the market” the properties identified for sale, which is “limited” to carrying out the actions necessary for their sale. “It is obviously not possible to make commitments in relation to the completion of the sale transactions, since that would require the existence of demand, something over which the administration cannot exert any influence”, clarifies the Government in its written response.

As it explains, during the first year of this programme the majority of actions were taken in order to prepare the properties for sale, with actions such as valuing them, “preparing them physically and legally” and in many cases obtaining certificates qualifying them for urban uses more appropriate for their sale.

Reducing the number of leased buildings

Within this programme of rationalisation, another of the measures planned to save costs was the relocation of public administration headquarters to buildings owned by the State, leaving currently leased buildings empty.

Some of the moves planned are, in Madrid, headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and of the AECID, of the Ministry of Economy and Competition, of the Ministry of Work and Social Security and of the Ministry of Finance and Public Administrations. As previously published by this newspaper, in the Ministry of Development there have been several cases of leases which lasted for years despite the existence of a number of empty buildings. For example, the case of the Aviation Safety State Agency’s offices, leased in the Madrid shopping centre Moda Shopping only 400 metres from the Ministry, or the case of the two headquarters of the publicly owned company Aena, also in Madrid and which cost 5,6 million euros each year.

Buildings in Bilbao, Logroño, Pamplona and Toledo are also being put back to use, all property of the State, in order to relocate various units of the administration currently located in rental properties.

Original article: El Confidencial (By D. Forcada)
Translation: Aura REE