Talks between Podemos and the government parties - PSOE and Més - went on until almost midnight on Monday, as the three signatories to the agreements on government sought to find a way out of the impasse created about the tourist tax. Government sources said that Podemos was not prepared to budge on its demands, key to which are a specific distribution of tax revenue to the individual islands and the sole use of this revenue for environmental purposes. The government has rejected these (and other amendments) to the bill.
With Podemos spokesperson Laura Camargo saying that this disagreement was likely to cause a "cooling" of the relationship with the government, the debate over the tax was leading up to the moment when there would be a vote on an amendment brought by the Partido Popular and Ciudadanos against the whole of the bill. It had looked as if Podemos might support this amendment, but in the end its deputies abstained as did those of El Pi. Had they not and had they indeed voted in favour of the amendment, the bill would, in effect, have been thrown out and needed redrafting.
Camargo described as "irresponsible" the suggestion that has been made that part of the tax revenue goes towards the financing of the government's guaranteed social income scheme. Podemos argued for a tax that was truly green and distributed according to factors such as numbers of residents and tourists and land area.
Earlier, the finance minister, Catalina Cladera, argued that the philosophy behind the tourist tax was an equitable and territorial distribution of tax revenue to each of the four islands and that she had no intention of opening up a territorial debate.
Cladera was responding to a question from the El Pi parliamentary deputy, Josep Melià, regarding geographical criteria. "It is the wish of the government that there is a territorial, balanced, fair and beneficial distribution in order that there can be investment in the four islands." Meliá queried this, by suggesting that it was only a declaration of intent. "We want percentages and the mechanisms."
The issue of revenue distribution across the islands has become a major stumbling-block for the government, with Podemos having proposed an amendment which does make a calculation and which, it is argued, would be prejudicial to Majorca.
Cladera also responded to a question from the Partido Popular's Alvaro Gijón as to why the tax would not be payable at ports and airports. This would be, she said, very complicated as the ports and airports are the responsibility of the state, while European legislation would also need to be considered. Gijón argued that were there to be collection by these means, the revenue would be up to 130 million euros. The budgeted amount for the current year (when and if the tax is introduced) is 50 million, rising to 80 million in its first full year of operation in 2017.
Gijón, no doubt aware of the difficulties with port and airport collection, was really driving at the need for there to be a system to enable collection of the tax that isn't discriminatory, as was the case with the old eco-tax of 2002-2003. He suggested that it would be better to wait to introduce the tax, as there was clearly a lack of consensus.
On the use of revenue being used for the social income, the government has said that this possibility was not mentioned in discussions with Podemos and that it will not be used for this purpose.
The voting on the amendment was 24 votes no (PSOE and Més), 22 votes yes (PP and C's) and 13 abstentions (Podemos and El Pi).