By Anne Kay

RAMON Socias officially took over yesterday from Miquel Ramis as the Delegate of the Spanish State Government in the Balearics.
I sincerely hope that he will try and sort out the never ending problems for the foreigners at the office in the building known as Administracion Periferica del Estado in the Ciudad de Quetaro street. This is in the Poligono de Levante, near the Exhibitions Hall. Over a month ago I accompanied a German gentleman to request the NIE (Numero de Identificacion de Extranjeros) i.e. the foreigner's identification number. Since he has a German identity card as well as passport, both with the same number, he had been told that to work here as a self-employed person he only needed to get the NIE, not the Residency Card. As our editor explained earlier this week, I ended up thinking that it might have been better to get the card.

Anyway, after waiting our turn for about an hour in a rather haphazard queue, we obtained the request form and filled in his details with a copy of his passport, and also my details, justified by a copy of my Spanish DNI which I duly signed as being the person who would collect the NIE paper after the month we were indicated it would take. The gentleman signed the request form and so did not come with me to collect the official paper with the number.

I went to the office last Friday about 10.30 a.m. and asked at the entrance where I had to go to pick up an NIE for a EU citizen. I was sent to Door 2 and asked to wait. Shortly after someone looked at the copy of the request I was holding and said “Oh, you need to be in the queue out there.” Apparently the door 2 was only for people asking for a Residency Card not just a number.

I asked in the outer desk which was the queue for EU citizens and was told, “All the same queue”. As I said above, it was a rather haphazard queue which was forming in three different files. At the desk you could read “Impresos” (i.e. forms) and “Permiso de Trabajo no Comunitario” (Work Permit for non EU citizens). Neither seemed to be the right one for me, but I decided on the Impresos so moved over to that lane. Little by little the people took it in turns to go to the desk from the three lanes. There was no difference. When it was my turn, the lady said I needed a separate authorisation from my friend. I was quite angry by then saying that she had been the person who gave us the original form, had seen him sign under my details, had not indicated anything about a separate authorisation and the form did not mention it either. No luck! And another employee had the nerve to say that I had jumped queues anyway!! My jaw dropped.

Monday at 9 a.m. I returned with my friend, not intending to enter the building, and to our horror, there was almost a demo taking place outside the doors. A crowd of people mostly of African origin were bitterly complaining amongst each other and the security guard refused to open the doors until everyone had formed an orderly queue instead of a mass. Meanwhile people were filtering in through the other door, all obviously going to the Door 2 or any other numbered door, or different floor in the building. The mass got angrier and eventually some national police appeared and the queue was formed. The wait was longer than ever but finally the three lane queue was filled up inside and everyone waited quietly for their turn although not necessarily in the same order as they had been outside the building.

My questions are:
Why can't there be more informative boards up so that people know where to queue or go?
Why can't there be a numerical system as there is in most other official offices such as in the Seguro Social, Doctors', Tax Offices, Traffic Office, etc.?

Why do the EU citizens have to queue for a NIE together with non EU people who are only asking for information that takes ages?
Are they trying to promote the Gestorias since I imagine that the majority of EU citizens who need a NIE because they own a house, are selling a boat, buying a car, or starting to work, etc., use the services of a Gestor? And I also imagine that they have immediate access and do not queue.

Why do the employees all have to have such miserable faces and basically treat the public as dirt, particularly if they do not speak much Spanish?
I gather that those who go to the National Police Office to pick up their final residency cards also have a communal queue and I know of two ladies who took their own folding chairs with them. It would seem that dealing with the foreigners is still an ongoing problem. When you think of all the new European Citizens from the latest additions to the Union who will probably start to flood this island soon, I think that it's about time they got their act together.

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