By Humphrey Carter
SHOPS will open on just five Bank Holidays and Sundays next year.
The Balearic Commerce Board met yesterday to set the Sunday opening calendar for next year and, while on the face of events, agreeing to open on 12 fiestas and Sundays in compliance with state law, trading will only take place on January 4, April 8, December 6, 19 and 27. Members of the Commerce Board, which is presided over by the Balearic Minister for Commerce, Josep Juan Cardona, reached a five-holiday deal with the Minister by using the loop hole opened by the Balearic Commercial law. The law, drawn up by the previous left-wing local government with the support of the commercial sector, is currently bogged down in the courts of appeal and as no ruling has been made, the commercial sector has, in principle, agreed to comply with state law. But in practice it will comply with the Balearic Commercial Law which requires shops to trade on just five Bank Holidays or Sundays a year. It is however, unlikely that the Balearic Commercial Law will be given the green light by the Madrid courts. Cardona said yesterday that, in accordance with the state law, the Balearic commercial sector will have to decide by 2005, how it wishes to comply with the demands of the government which are pushing ahead for a free market which benefits consumers more. Madrid wants to see more shops on more Bank Holidays and Sundays, offering consumers with more choice and creating a more competitive commercial sector. However, for the past four years, the Balearic government, with support from local unions and the various associations of small shopkeepers, has fought hard against a free market. But, while the commercial sector may have been able to slip through a loop hole this year, Cardona said that it will have to play a very different ball game, to the rules set out by central government, this time next year.

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