THE new Palma city council is coming under increasing pressure to take action against the 27 car rental companies faced with closure from the independent car hire sector.

The Association of Balearic Care Rental Companies, (Aevab), which represents some 254 independent rental agencies in the Balearics, yesterday hailed a crisis meeting and called on the new council to either enforce the pending closure orders or find a solution, fast. The problem is that the 27 companies involved are operating on rural land sites, which is apparently “illegal”, however they claim that there is no where else for them to set up their offices and park their large fleet of vehicles. 70 percent of Aevab's members operate in Palma and yesterday, association bosses claimed that, because the macro-rental companies are on rural land sites, they avoid having to pay certain business taxes and can therefore afford to charge lower rental fees - unfair competition as far as the independent companies are concerned. Manuel Jiminez, Aevab secretary and president of the National Federation of Resort Car Hire Associations, explained “while some of these companies are renting out Smart cars for just five euros a day, in reality we can't rent out a vehicle for less than 30 euros per day.” He went on to say that the unfair and “illegal” competition has forced between ten and 12 independent companies to close each year since the dispute first started five years ago, and that this year, members have reduced their fleet and slimmed down their operations to reduce costs. This year there are around 20'000 rental cars on the roads, 5'000 less than last year, and half are being operated by the allegedly “illegal” companies” which in turn claim that closure and failure to provide alternative sites will lead to the loss of 700 jobs.

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