The controversial tourist tax has already caused enough problems for the local government, but now, as the Balearic government starts to debate the budget for next year, the left wing coalition is split over whether to include the target 11.000 million the tax will raise or not. In view of the fact that the tourist tax has been suspended as a result of central government appealing against the tax in the Madrid high court on the grounds that the levy is unconstitutional, Balearic Finance Minister, Joan Mesquida is erring on the side of caution. Mesquida has said that he does not want to include funds raised by a tax which is in danger of never being collected. As it is, because of the appeal lodged against the tax, for the moment it can not be collected and will remain in the balance until the Constitutional Court in Madrid hands down its ruling. Mesquida fears that if the 11.000 million pesetas are included in next year's budget, which for the first time has got to be drwan up in Euros as well, the Balearics could find itself with an 11.000 million peseta shortfall by the end of next year. But the United Left-Green party want the tax's takings included. The Greens claim that the Balearics needs the money and that, as a ruling is expected by Madrid in either January of February of next year, the result will come earlier enough for the tax to be introduced by the end of February and the Balearics will be able to benefit from ten months of charging the tax. Mesquida however, has been drawing up the 2002 budget since September and the total figure is expected to be around 166.000 million pesetas, 1'000 million Euros. The increase on this year's budget has yet to be revealed, but this year, the Balearic government made an extra 158.000 million pesetas available than last year. One of the reasons for the healthy budget increase this year was the improvement in the Balearics's finance system which was agreed by central government. The net result was an extra 11.000 million pesetas. The tourist tax is proving to be a nightmare for the local government and plans to introduce a big business tax, revealed last week by the Balearic Minister for Commerce, Pere Sampol, will more than likely follow the same route as the tourist tax into the arms of the Constitutional Court in Madrid. Central government challenged the Catalunya government in court when it introduced a business tax and the Balearics can expect a similar response. Should Madrid overrule the tourist tax, one of the Balearic coalition's high profile policies, the decision will come as a huge embarrassment for the Balearic President and his mixed bag of Ministers.

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