Patricia Guasp of Ciudadanos said that the quarantine was a "deterrent message".

25-02-2020Miquel À. Cañellas

The leader of the Partido Popular in the Balearics, Biel Company, accused President Armengol on Tuesday of using the health crisis as an excuse to change a handful of laws, such as that for urban development.

In parliament on Tuesday, Company attacked the decree regarding the prohibition of construction on rustic land, saying that the decree had been approved without consensus. "It is a decree that tramples on farmers and small owners. What we need more than ever is economic activity, yet you (Armengol) are sending this into reverse."

The president responded by asking which farmers would want to build in risk areas (risks being from fire or flooding) and stressed that the decree had the support of three of the four bodies represented on the social dialogue working party - the CCOO and UGT unions and the Pimem federation of small to medium-sized businesses, but not the CAEB Confederation of Balearic Business Associations.

Armengol added that the government's previous decree for activating construction had nothing to do with the 'Ley Delgado' (the 2012 tourism law named after the PP tourism minister of the time) as it did not permit increases in the height of hotels or the number of beds. The PP, she suggested, didn't have a proposal of its own to make in respect of economic reactivation.

The spokesperson for Ciudadanos, Patricia Guasp, spoke about the quarantine of foreign travellers and argued that the Spanish government had shown a lack of appreciation of Balearics tourism. The quarantine had sent out a "deterrent message", and the announcement of its lifting was "late".

Guasp wanted to know about Balearic government negotiations with Madrid regarding the revival of the tourism industry. She demanded that there be a specific plan for tourism which includes "considerable tax relief for companies, a reduction in air taxes to ensure connectivity, and a reduction to 4% of tourism IVA (VAT)". In addition, the Cs spokesperson pressed for flexibility with ERTEs. These should continue until the recovery of the tourism industry and not just until the end of June.

She maintained that there have been "zero responses" to requests made by the Balearic government and that all that has been achieved is "a decrease in the credibility of your government and of you as president". Guasp noted that the Canary Islands "already have a bilateral commission with the Spanish government".

Armengol defended the government's "rigour" and the clear position that it has agreed with business. She also pointed to the government's early insistence that Madrid close air and maritime traffic and to the fact that this was "achieved in the most immediate manner". In addition, Armengol referred to the Spanish government's response to other requests from the Balearics, such as those related to the protection of workers, and to the call that she has made for foreign tourism in the Balearics to start in the second half of June.

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