THE regional ministry of Tourism has rejected accusations made by a Socialist Opposition member on government handling of the purchase of the Costa Nord cultural centre in Valldemossa, once owned by the actor and film producer, Michael Douglas. Joan Flaquer, Tourist minister, commented yesterday that Antoni Diéguez's attack on his ministry for poor handling of the deal with Douglas, was the result of a distortion of facts, and said that the only thing that was accurate in the Opposition's remarks, was the fact that the property's value had been assessed under a statute which has since been abolished. Environment ministry technical advisor Javier Cases explained that although the valuation of Costa Nord had been carried out by mistake under an outdated by-law, he insisted that the system for judging the value of a property under the new statute was identical. The Opposition had believed that the centre had come at a very inflated price if the Tourism ministry were committed to its continued upkeep as a cultural centre. The ministry, however, insisted that the purchase was not made dependent on any specific activity. The government had the intention to continue with the cultural activity of the centre, amongst other things clarified Cases, but under no circumstances was there an obligation in the purchase agreement of it being obliged to maintain such activity. The signed agreement, however, did contain an accord on the use of a promotional video featuring appearances and commentary by Michael Douglas. Cases defended the government's position by saying that there was a good 30 hours of valuable material on film footage which could be used to further the interests of tourist development on Majorca. It was completely out of perspective, he said, to base condemnation on the 14.5 minutes of the final video product. Flaquer took up the theme by saying he was satisfied that the purchase of Costa Nord and all its associated agreements, were above board. He maintained that the price ultimately paid for the buildings, installations and promotional material (4.4 million euros) was way below market price. He spent some moments explaining that the Balearic government does not own the company which manages Costa Nord, only the buildings themselves, so whether or not company employees remain at the cultural centre or not, is not the direct responsibility of the regional authorities.
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