New year, but same problems in the Balearics

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POLITICAL TURMOIL: For the Balearic Parliament.

THE Balearic Parliament opened for its first session of the year amid a fair deal of political turmoil.

President Armengol called for a fresh start after former speaker of the parliament Xelo Huerta was finally ousted in January over corruption allegations. 

Huertas of Podemos furiously denies the claims but her dismissal has revealed deep divisions in the anti-austerity party.

Armengol of the Socialist PSOE needs Podemos to remain unified if they are to see off the conservative challenge of the Popular Party together. 

A new speaker has not yet been nominated for the parliament, which faces a series of controversies to kick-start the new year.

Chief among them will be the tourist tax revenue and how to properly spread it.

Palma has requested at least 50 per cent of this year’s revenue.

In 2016 more than €30 million was raised but there were disputes on both sides of the aisle over its use.

Environmentalists feel not enough has been allocated for green projects, despite that being the tax’s purpose.  

Roughly €24 million has been dedicated to environmental projects, around €15 million of which is destined to help salvage the island from drought. GOB, one of the Balearic’s most influential green groups argue that the government should have, and already had, earmarked millions for helping with the water crisis.

They feel that the eco-tax is being used as a substitute for government funding, rather than as an addition to it. 

Meanwhile the hotel industry is preparing a serious lobbying effort aimed at abolishing the tax altogether.

Hoteliers are also readying to go to war over tourist rental regulations set to take effect this year.

They want private accommodations to undergo precisely the same scrutiny as faced by hotels to stop being undercut by what they see as a black market in tourist stays. 

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