Spain will provide whatever is necessary for La Palma to recover from the destruction wrought by weeks of volcanic eruptions, its prime minster said on Thursday, as some residents said financial aid had been slow to arrive.
Visiting on Thursday, Pedro Sanchez said financial assistance for housing would be tax-exempt and that taxes on air travel to and from the island, part of the Canaries archipelo off northwest Africa, would be subsidised for a year.
“We are not going to spare any resource, energy or personnel to tackle the reconstruction tasks,” he said. “The Spanish government is providing all possible resources to ensure the wellbeing, serenity and safety of La Palma residents.”
Lava has destroyed more than 2,000 properties on the island since the Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting in mid-September and thousands more have fled their homes as a precaution, prompting the government last month to pledge 225 million euros ($260 million) in aid.
Some 21 million euros of that has been disbursed and Sanchez said his administration would this week transfer a further 18.8 million euros for the agriculture and fishing industries and 5 million euros to tackle the “social aspect” of the crisis.
But in Los Llanos de Aridane, the closest town to the lava flow, some expressed frustration that they had yet to receive any of the promised cash.
“I want to believe (the aid is coming) but time is passing by and we see nothing,” said Oscar San Luis outside the local notary’s office, where he was waiting to file paperwork to apply for compensation.
“I remain hopeful. If you don’t have hope what are you doing with your life?” said the 57-year old, who lost several holiday properties and his avocado plantation to the eruption.
The Canarian regional government said it had hired 30 people to verify claims lodged in a register for compensation.
Speaking shortly after Sanchez’s address, Carlos Cordero Gonzalez, who runs a clothes shop in Los Llanos, said it was time for action as well as words.
“Now (the Prime Minister) just needs to say that the money is going to be sent directly to businesses and residents… I hope next week we have the funds in our accounts.”