I thought one of the basic rules of business and of good public administration was to be able to balance the books. Like any normal household you mustn't spend more than you've got coming in. But it appears that I am wrong. Debt is good. The Calvia council is now 12'000 million pesetas in the red. This is not a debt which has been run up on one given project, the debt mountain is actually growing and for next year the council will have to borrow 2'000 million pesetas. Now, I must admit that the Calvia council has done a fantastic job in some parts of the municipality with Palma Nova being a shining example. At face value I don't think residents and tourists could ask for more. Other areas of Calvia are also quite fantastic and a good example of how the public and private administration can join forces for the good of the municipality. But there is that small point of spending more than you've got. As anyone will tell you there is nothing worst than being in debt, and Calvia is heavily in debt. It is an unfortunate state of affairs when you've got ambitious plans which will benefit the municipality but good housekeeping should be paramount. It's as simple as that. I could go out and buy a new house but I won't because funds are limited. This is a basic economic message which Mayor Margarita Najera must learn. At present the debt the council has run up is twice the size of its annual budget. With a recession on the horizon council revenue will drop and I don't think Calvia's residents will be too pleased if they are forced to suffer a further increase in rates. Like much of the administration in the Balearics at the moment the bottom line is “nice project but who is footing the bill?”

Jason Moore

The variables of peace

In an interview with the Independent newspaper yesterday Britain's foreign secretary Jack Straw expressed understandable satisfaction with what had been achieved in the military campaign against the Taliban and the al-Qa'ida organisation in Afghanistan. He did not, however, mention Osama bin Laden whose capture “dead or alive” was once the first objective of the campaign. Mr Straw also expressed satisfaction at the speed with which the peace-keeping force, led by Britain, had been assembled although he warned that “The variables in sorting out the peace are in many ways more complex than those of the war itself.” Mr Straw's most interesting remarks concerned the future development of the campaign against terrorism. He said: “I have seen no evidence to support any link between Iraq and the September 11 attacks. It is only on the basis of very good evidence pointing to the necessity for military action that it is undertaken. On the basis of good evidence the only theatre in which we are currently involved in military action is Afghanistan.” These comments are in line with those of the Israeli and Saudi Arabian intelligence services reported in this space a month ago. Both of these services, looking at the issue from very different perspectives, concluded that Iraq had nothing to do with the Twin Towers and Pentagon bombings. The Saudis pointed out that Osama bin Laden did not respect Saddam Hussein as a Muslim and would be unlikely to enlist his help. Whether the United States, which thinks it has unfinished business with Iraq, will be persuaded by these considerations is another matter.



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