Sunday, February 07, 2016

The President Of The Tourist Tax

It can finally be confirmed. There is a new president. No, not one in Madrid, the one the Spanish call a president and the British prefer to term - because the British know best - a prime minister; it is one right here in the Balearics, or what should really be called Greater Mallorca. Sweet FA, sweet (and friendly) Francina Armengol has become Honorary President. For the remainder of the current legislature, Frankie will drift around aimlessly, smiling sweetly, pressing the on-message consensus-dialogue device, fronting up at press conferences and putting the message on repeat but otherwise doing nothing. The new president is President Dave Spart, Alberto Jarabo, ably assisted by Oberkommandant-ess Laura, Boot Girl-in-Chief.

Yes, I know that neither of them is actually in the government. But since when did a government matter? It certainly doesn't in Greater Mallorca. There we were, being British (and not only British), thinking we might just be making rather overmuch of the tourist tax, given that the British (and others) pay for everything in Greater Mallorca. But no. The students union, sometimes referred to as the Balearic (Greater Mallorca) parliament, has revealed that the tax is indeed "finalista", as nominal vice-president Barceló insists on calling it. It is "finalista" because it is the be all and end all. It is the defining legislation of an ill-defined government.

If Honorary President Armengol had thought parliamentary transmission of the sustainable (?) tourism tax law was going to be a piece of ensaimada, then she certainly got it wrong. There is a battle royal taking place. Or should that be battle republican? President Spart, among other things, has placed Mallorca firmly in his sights in seeking to decree how the tax revenue is to be divvied up. And Mallorca, in proportional terms, is going to see little of it. The Spart equation equates to 31 euros per inhabitant (sorry, citizen) of Mallorca, while Formentera will get 420 euros per citizen (of which there aren't many) and Menorca and Ibiza will receive amounts in between.

Why should the number of citizens per island have anything to do with the tax? The only answer can be that the tax doesn't actually have anything to do with tourism. But we had been suspecting that. There is, or appears to be, a further agenda, and it is an ideological one to redress the balance and dispense with the dominant philosophy of Greater Mallorca by ploughing most of the cash into the deprived islands of Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Well, up to a point, there is a point to all this. But it has nothing to do with tourism.

The Partido Popular, mischievously, are inclined to see President Spart's point. Not because they are about to rubber-stamp the presidential decree but because they can sense a grand rift when it appears under the students union's feet. They wish to widen it in the hope that it will engulf the non-government and take the tax with it. Alternatively, the PP spy an opportunity to apply sufficient explosive under the tax and blast it into the atmosphere, thus becoming a rainmaker and producing forty days of deluge, with the effects on the non-government (and, as importantly, the tax) being terminal.

Honorary President Armengol has been silent. And it suits her to be, for in truth she would rather the words tax and tourist had never been combined. PSOE remember the appalling mess they made of the last one. Perhaps, all along, she had been counting on there not being consensus and dialogue and had never considered that the parliamentary process would be smooth. She will be trusting that President Spart succeeds in dynamiting the tax by his own hand.

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