THE Balearic government approved yesterday an interim measure which frees hotel owners from having to make tourist tax payments on account to the government, the first step towards abolishing the unpopular tax completely. The tax was introduced by the previous coalition government, to raise funds for environmental projects, and hoteliers were responsible for collecting the tax for the government. Joan Flaquer, the Government spokesman and Tourist minister, explained that the elimination of this obligatory payment will finally be ratified by a full Parliamentary session scheduled for “the end of September or the beginning of October” this year. Flaquer made this announcement following the first day of a two day cabinet meeting at the Hostelry School, to co-ordinate government programmes for the whole of the term of office. Flaquer indicated that taking into account the imminent repeal of the tax, the Government believes that it is now not necessary to oblige hotel owners, who will substitute the tourists as contributors to environmental investment funds, to make payments on account, and signalled that when the tourist tax is finally obsolete, there will be “a final reckoning to balance up the accounts and bring the matter to an end”. Nevertheless, he pointedly emphasized that this measure does not affect the obligation to declare and make annual payment of the tax, neither does it give individual hoteliers the right to modify the established ruling currently governing tourist establishments in the Balearics. “It's not a cancellation of the commitment”, stressed the tourist minister, who clarified that “the tax will be collected while the law remains in place”. Last 11 July, the Balearic government approved the planned repeal of the tourist tax, which had been one of its electoral promises.

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