Thursday, November 30, 2017

Students In The Marivent Palace

What an absurd song and dance it is. The annual let's propose amendments to the regional government's budget which haven't got a cat in hell's chance of being accepted charade is with us once more.

Topping the list of the ridiculous is Més Menorca and their cunning plan to wipe off 1.2 million euros from the 2018 spend by booting the royals out of the Marivent and turning the palace in a students hall of residence. True, the palace doesn't belong to the royals and the government could theoretically do with it what its heart desires, but are Més Minority Menorca (fewer than 7,000 votes equal three seats in parliament, go figure that out) seriously expecting that with an alternative purpose there would be a saving?

It's a palace with gardens. Someone has to maintain it and pay for it irrespective of who uses it. And might one suggest that with hordes of students in occupation, the maintenance costs would soar. I can't speak for current-day students from Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, but I doubt that they are that different to students I knew and was one of. Now then, see that fire extinguisher over there ... . The royals, on the other hand, are probably low maintenance (so to speak), unless they misguidedly let Felipe Juan Froilán de Todos los Santos de Marichalar y Borbón, the son of the Infanta Elena, loose with a shotgun.

Undeterred by the pointlessness of going through the amendment proposals game, Més Menorca will nonetheless do their posturing and threaten not to support the budget unless the King, Queen and the two girls are shown the Marivent door and have to pay the tourist tax at a five-star like everyone else does. Actually, they probably wouldn't, if the rumours are correct and Letizia would need little excuse to give Mallorca a summer vacation wide berth. They could always go to Catalonia's Costa Brava instead and pay a lower rate of tourist tax. Although they probably wouldn't, what with Catalonia being Catalonia.

The Partido Popular, who do, by dint of the fact they have almost seven times as many parliamentary seats as Més Menorca, have rather greater credibility when it comes to the budget fandango, have taken their own dim view of our eco-nationalist-sovereignty friends from the northern isle. They want not one but two ministries to be eliminated, both of them with a Més Menorca hue.

One of these is culture. Send culture off to the island councils, the PP suggest. And why not? But again, would it represent a cost saving? Well no, not exactly. Més, both Mallorca and Menorca, and chums in PSOE and Podemos run the councils and would expect at least the same budget if not more. Transferring responsibilities doesn't come at no cost. Transfer does in fact come at increased cost. The councils are moaning about how much cash the government will give them for tourism promotion transferred powers, but it's still more than the government has been spending.

Transfer culture to the councils, and whole armies of civil servants would be required to redact and implement policy documents with regard to "linguistic normalisation", otherwise known as speak Catalan or else. The PP's suggestion is stupid, and they know it, but stupidity is the keyword when it comes to the budget charade. Which helps to explain why the PP also want to see the back of the transparency ministry and spread its powers across other ministerial departments. The ministry is superfluous, the PP claim, and it almost certainly is, and their rationale has to do with the ministry having been an invention to let Més Menorca have something to do in government.

But the fact is, and the PP surely can't have forgotten this, that the transparency ministry has sort of disappeared. It has already been spread and landed on the desk of the minister for the presidency, Pilar Costa, who isn't with Més Menorca. She's with PSOE, and she's from Ibiza, which is why she trousers 22 grand more per annum than Mallorcan ministers. Not that this should be an item for taking the budget axe to.

And so on it all goes. The PP want to cut the salary for the new head of the new anti-corruption office by 25 grand. Why should he (or she) be pocketing 95 grand when mere members of parliament are only on some 55 grand a year? And why indeed, especially as no one has a particularly clear (transparent ) idea what he or she would be doing or indeed the office.

If there is genuinely a desire to reduce spending, why does no one make a suggestion such as let's cut the number of members of parliament. Let's just say that 22 were to disappear. That would pay for the Marivent - royals, students or whoever. No, I thought not. They're not about to make that suggestion, least of all Més Menorca.

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