The Albacete City Council and Vectalia, the concession company of the urban bus transport service, have managed to get the Superior Court of Justice of Castilla-La Mancha (TSJCM) to agree with them regarding the treatment of Value Added Tax (VAT), since the Agency State Tax Administration (AEAT) changed the criteria, going from not passing this tax on this service as it is a municipal concession, to applying it, which caused its increase in price, which had to be assumed by the City Council and the concessionaire.
Both this municipal administration and the concessionaire opposed this measure, since the criterion was modified from one exercise to another without communicating it officially, after which the pertinent claims were initiated through administrative and judicial channels, which has led to this final judgment, as reported by the Albacete Town Hall in a press release.
These claims affect the financial years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and to date, in final judgment, only the 2014 file has been resolved, which will entail a return of 364,217 euros, pending judgment of the of the rest of the affected fiscal years.
The main issue is that public service concessionaires should not pay VAT, as it is an essential service provided by the administration, in this case through the legal figure of the administrative concession, but in essence it is the City Council itself that carries out the service for all purposes, as it imposes schedules, prices, routes and any other aspect that affects good service and in defense of the general interest.
This decision comes precisely when the urban bus service has recovered almost 70 percent of the number of travelers prior to the pandemic, according to data closed as of July 31. “Currently almost 70 percent of travelers have recovered, so we are happy with how the public bus service has been recovering,” said José González, Councilor for Urban Mobility and Education of the Albacete City Council.
The number of travelers in July 2021 was 218,120 and the total accumulated this year amounts to 1,767,767 users, «which indicates that we have 30 percent more travelers this July compared to 2020 , while the accumulated of this year compared to the previous one reflects an increase of 17.9 percent in terms of travelers “.
The pace of recovery is being “very good”, pointed out José González, adding that they know that “from now on it will cost more to reach the figures for 2019 which, on the other hand, was the best year of the entire historical series ». In any case, it has indicated that there are still restrictions on the capacity “of 85 percent, in addition to continuing to give advice to travelers so that they comply with all health regulations.”
At this point, he explained that they are aware that «returning to the numbers before the pandemic will be a long way, urban transport has shown that it is a reliable means of transport where the virus does not spread, as measures are still being adopted such as the obligatory nature of the mask, the separation of the screens of the drivers, the payment by voucher or card that is recommended, as well as not talking during the journeys ».
The Councilor for Urban Mobility and Education has made public his thanks on behalf of the mayor, Emilio Saez, and from the entire City Council of the capital “to all the workers of the Vectalia group, because the professional zeal that they have put on the table has allowed that there has always been a quality bus service.”
González pointed out that work continues to start the new traffic routes in the center of Albacete this summer, on the occasion of the pedestrianization of the central axis Marqués de Molins-Altozano-Paseo de la Libertad, and they will «redesign the lines of urban transport and its corresponding stops so that the new network begins to work along the routes that will finally be the usual ones ”.
The Councilor for Mobility wants the traffic changes to come into effect as soon as possible “in order to get used to these new directions.” “We know it will take a while, but we are convinced that once all the works are completed, we will achieve a better Albacete, free of emissions in the center and with a large pedestrian area that will allow a better and higher quality of life,” he concluded.