Some tourist tax revenue is to go towards employment and training in the nautical sector. | Teresa Ayuga


Town halls have let it be known that they are not happy with the allocation of tourist tax revenue by the executive committee overseeing the spending. Palma is the most vociferous. None of its proposals have been approved, and so the town hall is making noises about Palma in future having a specific allocation of revenue in addition to the allocations for the four islands.

President Armengol, responding to the criticisms, said yesterday that the priorities were projects for the water cycle and for those more suited "to priorities we have as a society".

"This is the first allocation of what I hope and wish will continue in the Balearics. We agreed with the bodies which form part of the committee that decides projects that the priority would be the water cycle in broad terms. It is one of the problems linked to the footprint of intensive tourism. In Palma there will be important investments, which are not carried out directly by the town hall but by the government, such as training for the nautical sector with a project of three million."

Armengol was speaking in Ibiza, where tax revenue will go towards the desalination plant at Santa Eularia. In Formentera, there is to be investment above the initial provision of 750,000 euros.

"The tax will have its effects with very important investments for the environment and the landscape. The current round was the first call for project proposals, and town halls which presented several projects will be able to present others (or the same) next time. It was clear that not everything could be approved because there were 30 million euros available, while all the projects were valued at 200 million euros."

Approval for spending was far from unanimous. There were votes against from CAEB, which includes among its representatives the president of the Majorca Hoteliers Federation, Inma Benito, from the environmentalists GOB and Friends of the Earth, and from the Arca heritage preservation association.

The opposition from the enviromentalists was not surprising, despite the allocation of revenue for environmental projects. GOB has insisted, for instance, that water cycle projects should be paid for by the government in any event and that they should not have to need tourist tax money.

There were also abstentions. The Felib federation of local authorities (representing town halls) and Palma town hall, which has its own representation on the committee, abstained. This reflected the dissatisfaction with the decisions for projects, with town halls seeing little direct benefit.

In favour of the proposals were the government, which has various ministers on the committee, the island councils, the unions and the farming council.