Last Friday Gerry Mulligan wrote a very well argued expose of the abandoned Palacio de Congresso being constructed on the entrance to Palma old town on the Paseo Maritimo – An Expensive White Elephant. This part built eye sore is impossible to avoid coming from the airport to Palma and so gives a negative first impression of our otherwise beautifull city.

A major part of his argument was that another conference centre was not necessary and he listed some of the existing alternatives many better placed than the potential slum and the squatters' Palacio we have now mirroring the nearby GESA building. He referred to ill-conceived schemes and plans like this without detailing them - money guzzlers like the Metro, Palma Arena, Son Moix, Soller Tunnel etc. He suggested this was due to the poor business acumen of our politicians. I have another slant on this.

Spectacular projects attract attention and provide numerous photo opportunities for politicians. Judging by the number of photos in the local press I wonder what time they have left to do any work (and that applies to our ex-pat politicos as well). But as well as publicity, major projects have major contracts and major contracts involve major sums of money necessitated the selection of contractors by these same politicians and approving their obligatory cost “over runs”.

Conversely no projects means no contracts and no graft. We all know now about the rampant corruption in local government – perhaps their “acumen” shows up in a different direction.

I have a civil servant friend in the Scottish parliament. The total number of appointees allowed for the whole country is 8. These are all advisors and occupy no management positions. Each change in Government has them dismissed and a new group selected. I also have a civil servant friend in the Palma Council. The total number of appointees is 300 many placed in management positions in state run companies for which they may be completely unsuited. They may have just 4 or 5 years in work before they too are fired – not long for their snouts in the pig's trough to accumulate a secret retirement fund.

Mike Lillico
Playa de Palma

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