Pere Muñoz, the Balearic director general of culture lamented the fact that the central government has still not granted the subsidy which had been agreed to refurbish La Lonja. As a result, the beautiful 15th century Gothic building on Palma's Paseo Sagrera cannot be given a facelift until the next legislature. Work will cost more than 2.3 million euros, and the central ministries of education and culture and public works agreed in the last legislature to provide at least 50 per cent of the cost, Muñoz said yesterday at a Press conference. However, he complained that the government had been delaying approval of the funds for two years so that the restoration of the building will have to be left until after the regional elections next May. Muñoz said that La Lonja had been closed in February 2001 so that work could be carried out during the summer, but the refurbishment will now be postponed through lack of funds and the Balearic government will have to bear the full cost if the central administration does not approve its share. The director general said that the Balearic government “will not let the building be damaged, but at the moment, it cannot take on the part that the central government said it would pay.” Muñoz criticised the “change of criteria” of the central public works ministry, and the refusal of minister Alvarez Cascos to have talks with the Balearic minister of education and culture, Damiá Pons, to discuss the situation. If work is not carried out soon, the building, which is used for periodic art exhibitions, could deteriorate even more. Muñoz said that the Lonja and the Lonja in Valencia are the two most emblematic constructions of their type in Spain. Restoration plans had been drawn up by the ministry of public works, which is obliged to assign one per cent of its budget to improvements to the national heritage.

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