STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE President of the Chamber of Commerce, Joan Gual, said yesterday that Central Government funding to upgrade the facilities in the Port of Palma are essential if the city is to avoid being “left behind” by better equipped ports on the mainland and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.. “The current installations in Palma are too small to handle the amount of passengers and freight that use it,” said Gual, adding that cruise and merchant shipping movements are being restricted by the lack of dock space in the port. “If we don't get funding from Madrid, and quickly, we're going to lose out to our competitors,” he claimed.

The recent visit of newly appointed Central Government's Minister for Public Works, Jose Blanco gave the Chamber of Commerce a chance to present a petition to both Blanco and the Balearic President, Francesc Antich, stating just how urgent the move to enlarge and improve the Port of Palma has become. “We've been talking about this issue for ten years now,” said Gual who gave a reminder that, having lost an historic opportunity to secure funding from Brussels, neither the Balearic government nor the regional Ports Authority have sufficient money to pay for the major reforms that the port needs.

Back in 2004, said Gual, it was calculated that upgrading and expanding the port would cost 1'700 million euros but that has risen in recent years. “As well as providing more space for both passengers and freight,” he added, “we could also become a centre in the Mediterranean for yacht refit and maintenance - but at the moment we are simply losing out to the competition.”