Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Great Mallorcan Tax Giveaway

When all else fails - and it has - the political magician has one last trick which he hopes will win the gasps and applause of the electorate audience. Off comes the top hat and out pops the rabbit which fires a pop gun with the words tax cuts scrawled on a scruffy piece of paper dangling from the final lifeline shot by a failing administration. See the Great Bauzá! Be amazed by his wizardry! Be agog at his political-death-defying feats!

The Bauzá Magic Show has been a roaring success. He has sawn ex-finance minister Aguiló in half. Made former education man Rafael Bosch disappear. Turned Palma's Mateo Isern into a frog. Conjured up a teaching system of awe-inspiring failure. Subjected his own party to the thousand cuts of swords thrust into a box that once contained Balearic regionalist identity. Symbolically turned the Catalan flag into the red and yellow of Spanish nationhood. Yes, a fabulous success. Ah but, there is always the sleight of hand and the rabbit with the tax giveaway.

Anyone out there remember austerity? It was ushered in with grim-reaper solemnity by José Ramón. Dourness, parsimony, cuts of different sorts - to personnel, services, budgets - were for the people of the Balearics to have to suffer for four years. The long faces of crisis were to endure while the vandalised public finances, looted and battered by the previous lot, were slowly mended, nailed back together and given a fresh lick of whitewash. But suddenly, the long faces have been replaced by the happy, smiling features of José Ramón, clapping wildly at every PP mayoral selection decision and beaming his most maniacal of beams.

All that austerity, and do you know what? The current, austerity-driven Balearic Government will be spending over 350 million euros more than when it started. It has managed to add over 1,000 million euros of new debt. Pretty good going, huh? The budget for 2015 - 362 million euros higher than in the first year of government - will include items of expenditure such as increasing the amounts given to political parties, like the PP, which will have twice as much to spend on advertising next year, and giving more to the IB3 broadcaster, firmly under the control of the PP and firmly made to utter only words of Mallorquín and not Catalan.

This non-austere generosity can be explained by the "great effort" of the past three years to overcome the "grave situation" that Bauzá was confronted with. Yes, he truly has been a magician. And what's more, the people of the Balearics will be better off to the tune of 250 million euros of lower taxes next year. Though don't anyone get too carried away, as there is an apparent contradiction in this - 160 million euros more to be raised through income tax and IVA. But don't let's dwell on this. Bauzá certainly isn't. The 250 million euros giveaway is what will get the electorate clapping as wildly as he does.

There are, of course, elections coming up and so there is an explanation which differs to the "great effort" one. Taxes down, budgets up, let's spend lots of money and see those PP names filling the ballot boxes. Tax cuts by government and tax cuts by town halls, just a couple of which are Pollensa and Calvia. "Electioneering", cried the socialist opposition in Calvia, which was perfectly true, though there has also been the "great work of management" by the Manu administration, said one of the PP deputy mayors. And what cuts these are in Calvia. 60% off for "large discos" for instance. Who on earth has Calvia got in mind, do you suppose? Oh well, nothing like recognising the good works that will see the phoenix rise from the ashes of some rocks in Magalluf. And nothing like the wave of the magician's wand and the magician's tax-cut incantation. "Abracadabra!" And with that, all the PP woes were blown away in a puff of smoke.

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