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Formentera expects of Govern same will to compromise re: tourism promotion as that displayed during finance law negotiations

seccio insular FRM 190115This morning by video conference call, a meeting was held of the Formentera section of the mixed transfer commission regarding the transfer of authority on tourism promotions. Similar versions of the same meeting will be held with Mallorca, Menorca and Eivissa to preface the work to be overseen by each island's mixed transfer commission.

In the words of Formentera Council President Jaume Ferrer, the meeting was “disappointing given that representatives of the Govern remain unwilling to change even a comma of their original proposal”. However, with time left on the clock before the final meeting is convened, Ferrer indicated his belief that “the Govern still has time to rectify things and adopt a position of compromise”. Evoking the lead-up to the law on financing of the island councils, Ferrer recalled “a real willingness to negotiate on the part of the Govern...[At that time] our island was listened to and a real effort was made to make the accord happen”.

According to President Ferrer, “Formentera wants this accord. We are not acting capriciously here. We make our living almost entirely off of tourism and want our say chiefly because we need it. However, it is clear that the behaviour of the Govern is not one of an institution seeking an accord”.

Support from the local board of tourism

Yesterday, 18 February, in a meeting held by the local board of tourism (el Patronat de Turisme), representatives of the tourism and business sectors of the island voted unanimously to reject the present conditions of the authority transfer. Concurring that the proposal in its current state was neither fair nor sufficient, Patronat attendees found that acceptance of the conditions would be “irresponsible”.

Tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer indicated that the rocky progress of negotiations had been set at the beginning. She lamented: “Mallorca has been allowed to set the rules of engagement, while at the same time, they have already made their position perfectly clear. [Mallorca] would prefer for the authority transfer not to happen, that tourism promotions remain in the hands of the Govern Balear in Palma. The situation is illogical, because Mallorca's goal is clearly for control to remain in the hands of IBATUR, the Govern entity presently charged with tourism promotions across all four islands. What Mallorca wants is for IBATUR to retain a maximum of financing and infrastructure”.

Ferrer explained: “As a result, the dialogue shifted and people began calling the change a transfer of authorities, although in reality it's nothing of the sort. [The current plans] call for the staff, structure and majority of the budget of IBATUR to remain where it is, and that entity would continue operating in favour of Mallorca. Meanwhile, the other three islands would be required to construct a new infrastructure from the ground up, doting it with a staff and budget allowance that can barely cover attendance at tourism trade shows. In a word, nonsense”.

The councillor of tourism continued: “So, to start, we had Mallorca insisting they didn't want the transfer to happen and yet they have been the ones defining its evolution. And now, adding insult to injury, not one of our suggestions has been accepted over the course of negotiations. We have thus ended up with a proposal from the Govern that includes a minuscule allocation for Formentera. While the overall budget for tourism in the Balearics grows and the allocation of each of the other three islands grows with it, Formentera is left with a quantity that will remain more or less at its initial level. This would mean, from year to year, a steady loss of ground with respect to our competition”.

Meet Neta, the first canine officer on the Formentera local police force

neta foto4 180115Today at noon Formentera local police introduced to the island the very first member of the squad's canine unit. The pup's name is Neta and she is a four-year-old German shepherd specially-trained in defence and drug- and person-detection.

In attendance at the Neta's introductory ceremony were President Jaume Ferrer, Local Police Chief Joan Mayans, Guàrdia Civil Sergeant Francisco Blanco, representatives from the island's civil protection forces and Officer Andreu Torres, the dog's owner and trainer.

Neta lives with at home with Torres, although the Formentera Council assumes responsibility for a portion of the costs of her care. According to Police Chief Mayans, the pup will provide services “of untold importance”, of which he cited drug detection and detention of individuals resisting arrest.

Sant Ferran library organises recycling workshop for kids four and up

Taller educacio1The Formentera Council, with the help of the local public library system, is putting on one more in the series of environment-themed learning workshops currently programmed for children four and older. This Thursday 19 February at 5pm, the Sant Ferran library will be the scene of an educational session aimed at teaching the island's children all about the three R's.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – three actions that are fundamental to an instructed approach to caring for the environment. This session of the workshop series is conceived as a way to demonstrate to Formentera youth the huge quantities of rubbish that humans generate. Participants will learn what happens with the litter they produce along with strategies for reducing their own output of waste.

Through games and practical hands-on exercises, kids will learn the need-to-know colours for recycling, details about the process of biodegradation and how to craft new objects out of recycled materials. As at every workshop in the series, the library will prepare a bookcase full of books and other educational material concerning the week's topic.

CiF puts an end to bank debt

130114 bartomeuescThe Formentera Council has wiped clean the last of its debts with banking establishments, a development which means—in the words of the administration's economy councillor Bartomeu Escandell—: “that the Council will cease to pay interest and instead focus the totality of its resources on services and investments for the local population.” According to Councillor Escandell, the situation is clear proof of the economic viability of the CiF ('Consell insular de Formentera'), an institution which is simultaneously ajuntament and consell.

This morning a payment of €613,301 was made to BBVA, which left the Council in a state of zero debt. Last year, on 3 June 2014, the Council paid off a loan it held with La Caixa bank.

The Council's debt reached its most critical point on 21 December 2012 when an outstanding sum of €11.5 million meant the administration was making yearly interest payments of €500,000. That situation was the result of, on the one hand, the debt that the Govern Balear held with the Formentera Council (at the time €18 million) and on the other, the fact that the national administration was obliging the Council to use ICO-PYME loans to repay its debtors.

Formentera is now seven years ahead of the timeline set by the central government, which calls for local governing entities to reach zero debt by 2022.

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