Palma's public service operators, such as the EMT public transport company and the water board EMAYA, will benefit from near 10 per cent increases in funding next year, but at no extra cost to rate payers. Palma city councillor for finance, Pedro Alvarez, unveiling the council's 2003 budget, said that all of the city's public service operators have functioned well this year, with EMAYA expected to post profits of two million euros, after two years of losses, and the money is be ploughed back in to the company. Maria Crespo will next year manage a budget of 80 million euros, eight million euros more than this year, and she announced yesterday that EMAYA plans to make some 30 million euros worth of investments. Water rates will be frozen, but refuse and sewage rates will rise with inflation. SMAP, in charge of Palma's car parks, will also post profits of 10'379 euros this year and is planning to invest some 40 million euros on car park improvements and management systems next year - but, importantly, car parking tariffs will not be increased. The EFM municipal funeral company will also be handling a larger budget of around eight million pesetas. EFM chairman Joan Bauzá said that profits for this year are forecast to be around 73'000 euros, while the outlook for next year indicates a substantial increase to 260'000 euros. Bauza said there will be little or no increase in funeral tariffs, which will be “equivalent to the rate of inflation or less,” he said yesterday. The cost of a basic but complete funeral service is 459 euros, “the most competitive in Spain,” Bauza added. But apart from the water board, the other main interest for the public is the EMT bus company. EMT boss, Pedro Alvarez, will have a war chest of 30 million euros, two million more than this year. Furthermore, bus prices will also be frozen and, as reported last Friday, children as old as eight will be entitled to free travel. By the end of this year, EMT will have transported 28 million passengers with a profit of 114'192 euros, hence why bus fares are being frozen, along with the council's desire to see more people using public transport. Next year, EMT plan to carry a record 30.3 million passengers. The mayor of Palma, Joan Fageda, yesterday called on Balearic leader Francesc Antich, to pull his finger out in the battle to ban alcohol from the city's streets. In a three-page letter to Antich, Fageda stressed the need for tougher action against drinking in public places and the streets and that, as the two politicians open two days of talks this morning, he wants to thrash out some solutions. Joan Fageda also used the letter to warn Fransesc Antich that he has an extensive agenda for the meeting.

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