By Humphrey Carter

THE Balearic nautical sector last night called on the relevant local authorities to urgently introduce new local legislation to help the sector and save it from further losses.

The region's nautical industry is one of the most lucrative for the local economy, and also a major employer, but for years now it has been fighting a losing battle to earn greater respect from the local authorities and ahead of the general assembly of the Association of Balearic nautical Businesses (AENB) last night, the association's president, Margarita Dalhberg, said that the industry needs immediate help in relaunching itself in order to combat rising competition from new and emerging nautical destinations in the Mediterranean.

The debate over the hugely controversial and detrimental matriculation tax, which has all but destroyed the Balearics' and Spain's charter industry, has been raging for many years, but now it appears that the nautical industry is facing further challenges due to the lack of support and fiscal incentives from the local authorities. According to Dalhberg, the industry is losing companies, ten to be exact over the past year, and with them have been lost jobs and important revenue.

She also revealed that those remaining businesses have seen turn over drop by as much as 50 percent in some cases. “We continue to get the impression that the institutions have no interest in seeing a dynamic and developing nautical industry. “We need modern and up to date infrastructure and efficient administrations backing and supporting us so that we can return to creating jobs and wealth for the region,” she stressed.

Dalhberg said that apart from a complete lack of unified and clear rules and regulations and fiscal breaks, Spain is the only country within the European Union which applies the matriculation tax and this is the biggest hurdle the charter industry is facing.

In 2009, the tax office collected 1.5 million euros in matriculation tax while, the Balearics alone could have turned over an estimated 600 million euros without the matriculation tax which would allow the charter industry to flourish.

The matter has been taken to central government and Europe with the industry claiming that it is discriminatory for the industry and one suggestion is a fixed European Union matriculation tax.

However, some of the Balearics' main nautical competitors, such as France, Italy and Greece have either scrapped or slashed such taxes, so they are unlikely to agree to introducing a new tax which in turn could damage their nautical industry for the benefit of the Balearics.

What the Balearic nautical sector wants and is determined to achieve is the scrapping of the tax, otherwise it is going to struggle to survive.