Staff Reporter
AS of 1 January 2004, the Balearic government will ban the sale of all alcohol from commercial establishments on the Islands after midnight. The modification in the law will form part of next year's budget programme. Minister for Commerce, Josep Juan Cardona, announced yesterday that this reform is an extension of a restriction which currently bans the sale of drinks containing more than 18 degrees of alcohol from commercial premises after midnight. Cardona commented that the type of establishments that will be affected by this ban will be convenience stores, sales points that are open 24 hours a day and petrol stations. The fines for breaking the new law will range from 1'501 and 15'000 euros and if the offence is repeated, which would be considered as a matter of utmost seriousness, the fine would rise to between 15'000 and 150'000 euros. The government aims to use this measure as another step in the fight against the consumption of alcohol out on the streets, especially among groups of young people. Ministers recognise, however, that the practice, known as “botellón”, will not be wiped out once and for all by this change in the law. Viewed as an objective in which he played a “special part”, Cardona asked for “the support of all aspects of government administration” in order to bring this law into force. The head of commerce was accompanied on the occasion by Aina Castillo, minister for health and Rosa Puig, minister of the president's office. Castillo and Puig enlarged on the consequences of the change in law and how it will relate to health and young people's issues. Castillo underlined the importance of helping “young people and adolescents prevent the descent into alcohol dependency.” She reported on figures for the Balearic Islands confirmed by a survey carried out by the National Drug Addiction Prevention Plan. The survey revealed that some 73.2 percent of young people between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, have tried alcohol. Furthermore, it shows that 53.4 percent of people interviewe during the course of the study had consumed alcoholic drinks less than 30 days prior to the time of completing the questionnaire, and that the same percentage admitted to driving whilst “over the limit”. Also, 74.8 percent recognised the fact that they had become “excessively drunk” on specific occasions.
Rosa Puig remarked on a separate modification in legal statutes that will come into force under the 2004 budget proposals. It referred to the handing over of responsibility for social affairs from regional government to the Council of Majorca. The minister of the president's office explained that the transfer of responsibility will, above all, affect the management of residential homes and day centres. Jurisdiction will include some 474 staff, who will in future be governed by the Council of Majorca, while 128 employees will remain the direct responsibility of the Balearic government.


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