RIP to the funerary monopoly

The City of Sant Boi promises to change the ordinance against the abuses of the Funeral Services. Catalan Competition Authority fined 1.7 million to the City of L’Hospitalet, Hospital de Bellvitge


The funeral trap of Lower Llobregat

The municipal government of the city takes a step forward in this struggle that has turned the organization to end the monopoly that there is covered in this sector. Sant Boi Town Council agrees to change the bylaw that regulates the funeral business to fight, according to explain and defend the monopoly rights citizens.

The new ordinance that is preparing the City of Sant Boi with the co-operation of José Luis Manzano, founder of the association, aims to defend the rights of citizens and foster competition in a very tight up the time and working in a virtual monopoly regime. “The current ordinance is outdated and should be revised, we want to add competition and that citizens can choose between different funeral homes, that prices are lowered and that they can defend their rights,” says the third deputy mayor head of the Department of Territory and Citizenship of the City of Sant Boi, Juan Antonio Tamayo.

Catalonia and by analogy the Lower Llobregat, is the region of the State in which to bury a deceased is more expensive, and this is due to the monopoly situation that exists in the territory covered up after the liberalization of basic services that Spain did in 1996 which left the way open to municipalities to regulate in this area.

“At the same Lower Llobregat products and services are 25% more expensive because they have no competition and funeral homes set prices according to monopoly,” said Manzano. And that the situation “can be considered a clear abuse of market dominance, because they have divided themselves the business and have limited competition, you do not work in my area, I do not work in yours, and thus it can only exist an only offer”, states the head of the association.

End of monopoly?

This situation, however, seems to changing after that, thanks to a persistent pressure by the association, the councils of the region began to be aware of the problems. “The law that has caused this situation of low competition in the region, which is still in force today, was due -in its moment- to a lack of space in the cemetery of Sant Boi; but things have changed and so, the ordinance must adapt to changing times, “says Juan Antonio Tamayo.

This amendment of the bylaw that regulates funeral services in the city of Sant Boi was agreed for the first quarter of this year, i.e., the end of the current legislature, but Tamayo said that “if we do not manage to change this situation before the end of this legislature, we will try to open the following one with the proposal of the law”.

However, the City of Sant Boi is working with José Luis Manzano in order to have a draft to pass the law transact in the city council session and thus favor any suggestion from the other political groups present in the City of Sant Boi, that could contribute with their ideas in favor of citizens. “Having started coworking with the City of Sant Boi in changing ordinances gives us hope for change in other municipalities, as there are still things to change, “adds José Luis Manzano explained that they expect the initiative of the City of Sant Boi is the piece that willdo the rest fall as in a row of dominoes.

L’Hospitalet, fined half a million euros

The City of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat has been sanctioned for misconduct in the monopoly of the funeral business with a fine of 500,000 euros by the Catalan Competition Authority (ACCO). This sanction that punishes the council together with the funeral home Altima (one of the most important of the sector) and the Bellvitge Hospital requires a total of 1.7 million euros to the institutions involved, and makes it clear that everyone was taking a lot of profit from the funeral business. According to the resolution, this funeral home benefited from getting 90% of funeral services supplied between 2009 and 2013 from these hospitals of which the City of Hospitalet took the 12%, and Bellvitge Hospital received 80,000 euros each year from the mentioned funeral enterprise in research.

L’Hospitalet City Council has defended arguing that it acted lawfully and that all are mere presumptions and therefore has decided to appeal against the fine like the Altima funeral home. Moreover, Bellvitge Hospital has chosen to publish some leaflets in which are explained the procedures to be followed in order to contact all funeral services in the territory. In any case, this sanction has already had political repercussions. Ciudadanos (C’s), through its spokesman, Miguel Garcia, has asked political responsibility for the bad practices.

The penalty that been given to these organizations was due to the denounce that the funeral home of St. Sadurní in 2011 decided to file them, after having being denied the right to collect the bodies of several dead in Bellvitge Hospital.

The complaint referred to the failure of an ordinance of the City of Hospitalet reserving Bellvitge Hospital all deaths to the funeral home in the city which violated the law that had put an end to the monopoly of the 15 years ago.


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