Monday, November 02, 2015

On Balearic Budget Day

When British Chancellors of the Exchequer make their budget statements, the ritual requires that the incumbent is photographed with a cheesy grin, holding aloft a battered old box that some lackey has recovered from the bottom of the Exchequer wardrobe and smashed with a hammer a couple of times to add greater beaten-up authenticity. Never trust a Chancellor with a brand new, shiny, state-of-the-art box acquired at some considerable cost from the nearest Staples. In tattiness we budgetary trust. Once stated, members of the media are dispatched to Redditch and other such middle England enclaves of which no one would normally ever hear about, except on budget day. They wander the streets and shopping malls, eyeing up their victims and seeking answers as to the budget impact on smoking and alcohol behaviour. This is then followed by Robert Peston in full hair mode, uttering the utterly unintelligible in a style of incoherent incomprehension known only to him.

In Mallorca they don't bother with such rituals, save for the ones which demand that Madrid is blamed for everything and the actual process of budget finalisation then undergoes parliamentary amendments, which this year require Podemos insisting that 50% of public spending goes towards soup kitchens and supporting the cause of rebel forces in deepest Bolivia. Presiding over all this is Xe-Lo, nodding sagely in Speaker attire as another several million are reallocated to an environmental campaign to conserve the ancient mountain ant of the Tramuntana. (Actually, although Podemos aren't happy with the budget, their proposed amendments will not be of such extravagant nature.)

CC, i.e. Catalina Cladera, had her first chance to shine as keeper of the islands' piggy bank, in informing us all that the Balearic budget represented "a social turn demanded by the people", to which the Pons fellow, the one who is meant to explain the inexplicable, added that it could be characterised as "a turn of the left". The government is for turning. They didn't of course tarry when it came to quite how the highest Balearic budget ever was exactly going to be spent. It was only when the local Pestons started poring over the small print that it was discovered that the last thing that THAT tax would be spent on would be tourism. CC even appeared to admit that THAT tax would end up compensating for health service deficit. Blame Madrid, don't blame me. To then make things truly dandy, in a touristic sense, it was revealed that the budget for tourism was going down. Even further down than it already is. 52.7 million in total, with 32.8 million going to what supposedly makes the islands tick - the Balearic Tourism Agency: promotion and all that.

Tourism budget austerity began with the PP. Carlos Delgado was so parsimonious that the Balearic contingent once arrived in Berlin with little more than a flip-chart and some marker pens that had run out of ink and had ended up being the embarrassment of the Berlin travel fair. The austerity is now greater. Blame Madrid. One trusts that BB, the tourism minister, has booked himself into an economy-class hostel in King's Cross while he's off on the jolly to London to use Mallorcan tumbet and frito as the gastronomic frontline defence against the armed ranks of the British media seeking to rip THAT tax to shreds. One hopes to God Biel doesn't drone on about sobrassada, given that the World Health Organization has decided that anyone consuming it is about to be rushed to the oncology wing of Son Espases. But while he's over in London, he might want to have a quiet word with the Met about the policing of "alternative" clubs, those in the vicinity of King's Cross or elsewhere. Plenty of experience there. All historical now of course from the days when the London cops made Palma's Green Patrol and GAP look like Sam Tylers compared with the Gene Hunts of yore.

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