The tourism ministry's fines
A couple of weeks ago, a reader left a comment for a news item on the website that read "fines, fines, fines, that is the Spanish way". And sometimes it can seem this way, especially when a government - the Balearic government - can announce how much it is budgeting on receiving in fines' income next year. The cheery news as to how much more the government forecasts that it can rake in was due to tourism ministry expectations. Roughly seven million more euros will flow in from fines handed out by the ministry's inspectors and courtesy of a readjustment of the rates of fines and how the rates will be applied: upwards and without necessarily charging the lowest rate, as has been common practice until now.
Illegal holiday rentals will be one target for the inspectors, with tourism minister Barceló warning miscreants (and they include hotels as well) that the inspectors will be coming down hard on them.
The announcement of the ministry's contribution to the government's piggy-bank of fines was yet another prelude to the delayed draft text for legislation on holiday rentals, which - we learned - appears to have the name of the law on tourist leasing. Barceló observed that one of the greatest challenges with this legislation - as if we didn't already know - will be Airbnb and other such websites, and on Friday we suggested that the minister will be taking a long hard look at what the town hall in Barcelona is up to at present. It has slapped 600,000 euros fines on Airbnb and HomeAway, the maximum permitted under Catalonian law, and has fined others, e.g. TripAdvisor, 30,000 euros. If he is indeed taking a close look, it may well be that he will have even better news of fines' revenue for 2018.
This revenue will be welcomed by President Armengol, who was going on about the financing of the Balearics last week, as she has mostly every week since becoming president. Inevitably, this meant a reference to the special economic regime for the Balearics, which isn't anything special. Armengol would like it to be and at least in line with greater benefits enjoyed by the Canaries. The president of those islands would, however, like something even more special, and at talks with Armengol the two governments vowed to fight Madrid in order to extract more favourable financing deals. They were both also concerned about plans to extend the privatisation of the airports network Aena, believing that this will prioritise shareholder profit over local needs for the airports.
Growth and unemployment
The statisticians were out in force last week. October tourist numbers in the Balearics soared by 25%, we were informed, while the government was stating its case for economic growth to be 3.7% in 2017. While down a little on where 2016 is expected to close (4.1%), it was still very positive, said employment, trade and industry minister Iago Negueruela. As was pointed out, though, other forecasts put growth of at least one per cent lower than what the government reckons. And this will mainly be because of a Brexit effect.
But while the government's economic outlook was rosy, there were also the unemployment figures. The increase in Balearic unemployment in November (compared with October) was the highest in Spain and by some distance.
Palma name and police
The Balearic parliament approved the town hall's decision to change the name of Palma from Palma de Mallorca to Palma (officially, that is), and the Partido Popular said they will change it back again when in power. Rather less frivolous were the ongoing difficulties between the town hall and the local police. The councillor for public safety, Angelica Pastor, was being attacked by unions for having suggested that police officers were slackers. This had followed a study of hours worked by some officers: not as many hours as they should be working, Pastor has alleged.
She was then put on the spot over a report from a senior police officer which claimed that police work was being hampered by two departments at the town hall. She admitted that management at the town hall wasn't all it might be, but blamed the Partido Popular for cuts it had made and implied that the PP had turned a blind eye to "problems".
The tourism ministry's fines
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