News desk BALEARIC minister of finance and taxation, Lluís Ramis de Ayreflor, said yesterday that hoteliers could defer payment of the controversial tourist tax for up to two years. The tax was repealed by the new government last October, but many hoteliers had refused to pay the tax, although they have been holding it in special bank accounts, pending a solution by the courts. They owe 52 million euros. Ramis said that the government had not only honoured its commitment to repeal the tax, but it would also fulfil its responsibility to collect the sums owed. He added that the government was not negotiating payment. He added that all hoteliers will have the opportunity to defer payment, although he pointed out that this would incur a surcharge of “approximately five percent,” which is above the interest on bank loans. “Payment is fully assured,” he insisted, adding that he expected it would all be paid within two years. The tax was introduced by the previous socialist coalition government on May 1, 2002. The amount outstanding represents 65 percent of the total amount which should have been collected before the tax was repealed. Some hoteliers believe that the tax was unconstitutional and plan to continue to press their case in the Constitutional Court. Small hotels, however, are expected to accept the government's proposal.