While pedestrians were enjoying the sensation of having room to move along the Borne in Palma yesterday, drivers were having to proceed with the same sense of caution as the commercial sector. President of the Balearic Small Business Association (PIME), Antoni Marqués, used a meeting with Francesc Antich to point out that there is an air of “uncertainty” amongst shops and businesses involved in tourism. But, while there are “doubts” dogging the tourist sector, Marqués said that the rest of PIME members are operating “as usual with high expectations.” Protected by the local government's moratorium which prohibits the further construction of hyper markets and shopping complexes, the small to medium shop keepers, in particular, have started to enjoy the benefits and Marqués said as he emerged from the meeting with Antich, that his association will continue growing this year with new members. Marqués admitted that there are difficult times ahead, but highlighted the fact that small businesses are more able to adapt to changing market forces than their large competitors. However, the large competitors have the support of the Partido Popular central government which has lodged an appeal against the Balearics' supermarket moratorium with the Constitutional Tribunal in Madrid on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Balearic Minister for Commerce, Pere Sampol, was informed of Madrid's latest legal challenge to the Balearics yesterday afternoon, admitting that he was “surprised” considering the moratorium was passed and approved in the local parliament last December on the back of a proposal by the regional PP. However, another factor which is helping to revive small shopkeepers in the heart of the capital, where some streets have seen revenue fall because of parking and traffic problems, is the city council's pedestrianisation plan. While in its early days, work on phase one, the Borne, only started this week, Marqués said that, “providing the work is finished on time,” the project will have a marked effect. But, he repeated the need for these types of projects to be carried out as quickly as possible so as not to effect trade in the interim. He said that the small business sector made a huge effort to adjust quickly to the single currency and that the vast majority of PIME members are now fully adapted to the euro.

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