|Sunday-Monday 26-27 April, 2015 Edition #4643|
It is twelve years since the old eco-tax was scrapped in the Balearics, but its return has been touted by different political parties.
Més has indicated that it would be in favour, while PSOE has intimated that it might reintroduce a tax if it were to form part of a new government.
Yesterday, we highlighted the thinking of Podemos on the subject.
At the launch of its manifesto for the local election, its leader Alberto Jarabo spoke of the possibility of there being a tax of between one and two euros that would be paid on arrival or departure at airports or which might be added to the price of air tickets.
Podemos is non-commital, though, as it was “still examining the economic implications (of such a tax) and also whether the general public would support such a move”.
Jason Moore considered the idea of a tax to be “complete madness” as it would be levied on “our only source of revenue”, i.e. tourists.
By coincidence, Friday’s Week in Tourism column looked at this very issue, Andrew Ede reporting on Catalonia’s experience with its tourist tax that raises some 40 million euros a year in revenue and which, according to a one-time sceptic, the head of the region’s travel agencies, has not affected tourism, adding that a similar tax in the Balearics “need not have the negative consequences that many believe that it would”.
A true number of British residents?
How many British (and foreign) residents really are there in Majorca? This is a question that has been asked many times over the years, and Jason Moore raised it again by noting the difference between the official figure of British residents in the Balearics (around 17,000) and the often claimed higher estimate of 50,000.
Foreign residents, Jason noted, drop off official registers because “they want to disappear off the radar” while many simply don’t bother registering with their local town halls.
The background to this was a report on Wednesday regarding population statistics across Spain.
It revealed that the Balearics has the highest percentage of foreign residents among all the regions of the country: 17.4%. But this is the just official figure.
Oranges and cocktails - their history
Fairs in Majorca are currently in full swing, and one fair that has already been held is the Orange Fair in Soller.
In their Spotlight on Soller feature on Tuesday, Shirley Roberts and Rachel Fox considered the “mighty Soller orange” and the historical background to the orange industry in the town.
They noted that orange tasting menu special day trips from Palma will still be available until 3 May.
The Bulletin is lucky to have its resident historians - Andy Rawson and Miquel Ferrà i Martorell - but there is a great deal of island history lurking on other pages: Shirley and Rachel’s look at the Soller orange is just one example.
A regular and perhaps unexpected source of this history is Charles Harrington-Clarke’s Sunday Spiritual Adviser column.
Cocktail mixer Charles always gives some background to the cocktails he introduces to us, and last Sunday’s was of particular interest, as it was “El Mallorquín”, a creation that takes its name from the eponymous steam ship of the nineteenth century and which was inspired by a visit to the Majorcan brandy producer Bodegas Suau, which was founded by the commander of that very ship.
Something else that might have been unexpected was the news of a new nature reserve in Magalluf. Here, for once, was a very different look at the resort, and Michael Montier, in his always highly informative Wild Majorca column on Thursday, reported on plans for “a new wetland which will be managed and will provide a safe haven for local wildlife”.
We should by now be used to major celebrities turning up in Majorca. Even so, when they do, their appearance does have a quality of the unexpected (probably because they don’t announce their appearance in advance).
So, there was great excitement when Lewis Hamilton drove “into Majorca in style”, as we reported on Friday.
The Formula One world champion, photographed in Soller, was on the island to film an advertisement for Mercedes.
The week that was
By Andrew Ede
Plundering and blundering
Oh my God. To plunder once, as Lady Bracknell didn’t say, may be regarded as a bit of cock-up; to plunder twice looks like you mean it. How good is your Spanish? Would you be able to distinguish between the verbs “sacar” and “saquear”? You could be forgiven if you were not able to. But, the national secretary-general of the Partido Popular and the president of Castilla-La Mancha? Oh my God. Dear Dolly was at it again: Maria Dolores Cospedal, throwing the PP what might be termed a Cospedal pass. “We have worked hard in plundering our country.” Honestly, this is what she said at a meeting in Guadalajara on 17 April; the gaffe only really coming to light and having been given the attention it deserved last week. What she had meant to say was - “we have worked hard in moving our country forward” - but because she got her “sacar” and “saquear” muddled up, she didn’t say this.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Dolly has stumbled over these verbs. In 2012, she was announcing policies that would plunder (or loot, if you prefer) Castilla-La Mancha. Over the course of three years, Dolly’s ambitions for looting have increased substantially. Not content with a single region, she’s having away with the treasures of an entire nation. What a girl.
At a time when it was emerging that Rajoy’s old mate (no longer a mate), Rodrigo Rato, had been not so much a rat who had left a sinking ship but - allegedly - one who had rammed it with his pirates’ ship, boarded it, deprived it of all its vast horde of pieces of eight and had then set fire to it, Dolly’s mixture of verbs was especially unfortunate. Or perhaps it was entirely appropriate. The Pirate Plunderers of the PP: it has a ring to it. Major-General Matas, The Pirate King Bárcenas, and many a Pirate Apprentice: “They are the very model of the modern political party”.
Linguistic balls-ups by PP prominenti are of course not uncommon. A fine example of the genre was that of erstwhile education minister in the Balearics, Joana Camps. She trampled her heavy boots all over the PISA Programme for International Student Assessment by believing that PISA was in fact the Spanish verb to tread, which she then duly translated into Catalan, thus compounding the error and turning herself into a laughing-stock (which admittedly wasn’t that difficult).
Joana should have been demanding double geography lessons for her colleagues in the party, as there have been the geographical gaffes as well. Take Mariano Rajoy, for example. Prime minister of Spain. Should have a reasonable grasp on the subject, you would think. Not when it comes to Majorca, he doesn’t. Hence, he referred to the island of Palma. And, blow me, Dolly has the same sort of problem. The day after she was boasting about all the plundering, she was at a meeting in Extremadura. Or was she? According to her, Las Hurdes, which is where she was, is in Andalusia. It isn’t.
Taxes and minority government
Back on the island of Palma, José Ramón was hunting frantically for treasures to be offered to a gullible electorate. When all else fails, and it mainly has, there is always the tax-cut card to play, and so he played it. There is a catch of course. You have to vote for him. But if you do, then you will enjoy, as an example, a 20% reduction in the tax on water. What Bauzá failed to mention was that this tax, which in certain instances doubled households’ water bills, was one his government introduced, and it did so as part of a package of green taxes, none of which were eventually implemented other than the water tax. And why weren’t they? Well, they would have affected the likes of AlCampo, Mercadona and other large retailers, and they threatened to take the government to court if it introduced the taxes. So, the green taxes were duly scrapped, except for one. With the elections just a month away, a possibility has arisen that hadn’t until last week been given much prominence. Andreu Grimalt of the research organisation Gadeso suggested that Bauzá might just hang on and form a minority government with the initial support of Ciudadanos (C’s). Grimalt hypothesised that the C’s might do this but then withdraw support in time for the national election. Ciudadanos, as with Podemos, are rather more interested in the general election than the regionals and so would not wish to be associated with the PP come general election time. His argument is a bit odd: why would the C’s bother with giving initial support then?
In fact, it is possible that the PP could form a minority government without any support (this is what seems to be happening in Andalusia with PSOE). If Podemos and the C’s are true to their word and do not create pacts, then - according to current opinion polls - neither the PP nor PSOE would be in a position to form a majority coalition. The C’s presidential candidate in the Balearics, Xavier Pericay, said last week that there would be no pacts unless the C’s gained the most votes. And this is not going to happen.
Not living the high life
It was all a bit odd. There was this Highlife Mallorca Luxury Fair thing that was due to have been taking place at Es Baluard this weekend. It was cancelled at the last minute. For reasons “beyond our control”. Maybe all the highlife had suddenly decamped to Soller to get a glimpse of Lewis Hamilton in his underwear. Or maybe there is less highlife in Majorca than we are led to believe. If not a highlife fair, might there be some scope for a lowlife event? It certainly wouldn’t need to cost very much. Indeed, it could probably be staged for free, just as the nightly lowlife fair in Magalluf is: the one involving the so-called prostitutes.
The local police in Calvia went to great lengths during the week in explaining how it has been improving the prostitute situation. 4,211 hours of police time were dedicated to prostitution control last year. The number of prostitutes on the streets in 2014 was down by roughly 50% over the previous year. There were a mere ten prostitutes on the streets over Easter.
The trouble, for many people in Magalluf, is believing all this, just as it is difficult for them to believe that the police cannot prevent prostitution (even when it is a blatant front for criminal activity). And just as it is difficult for bar owners to believe that Calvia’s new controls are anything other than for the benefit of hotels and large club owners and are discriminatory towards them. There are going to be protests.
If Britain pulls out of Europe will it change our lives on Majorca?
The issue of Europe and Britain´s possible exit from the European Union is a hot political potato in Britain in the run-up to the general election and there are also fears locally that Britain´s withdrawal would hit British expats on the island.
So Kate Mentink, President of Europeos por España, brought together two experts on this subject, former British Vice Consul Esteban Mas MBE, who is now the Balearic representative at the European Union, and leading local lawyer Javier Blas. They both agreed that if Britain did leave the European Union it would not affect many of the privileges we enjoy, unless it was a complete withdrawal from both the Union and other relevant treaties. There were some interesting questions from the more than 80 people who attended the event at the Caixa Forum in central Palma. Will we have to obtain work permits? Will we be entitled to state health care? Were just some of the questions asked from the floor. The two experts allayed most of their fears.
Kate Mentink said over the last few months she had been contacted by many of their members with questions about Britain´s possible withdrawal.
Summing up Jason Moore said that Britain needed to realise that other many states were not too concerned over a possible British exit. Esteban Mas agreed saying that the view in Brussels was that if Britain didn´t want to stay in the European Union then it should go. “It would be a shame but afterall it would be a decision by the British people,” he said, indicating that Prime Minister David Cameron had promised a referendum if he is re-elected.