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By retooling 2020 budget, Formentera unlocks funding to help islanders cope with Covid-19 crisis

foto ple ix020Members of the Consell de Formentera gathered today for the island’s September plenary, a session that saw the GxF-PSOE cabinet secure the preliminary green light for a modification of the island’s 2020 budget. “The situation in November 2019 when this year’s spending framework was voted in is completely different to the one we’re in today”, quipped the chief of the finance and tax offices, Bartomeu Escandell. The pandemic and attendant crisis have forced a change in priorities, he continued, “and right now it’s crucial we devote resources to tackling this social emergency”.

Among the actions designed to supply urgent relief to islanders and local businesses, including €30,000 for Formenterers Solidaris and a €100,000 increase in social spending, €100,000 for student aid, €300,000 in food vouchers and €350,000 for freelancers and Isba loans, Escandell pointed to urgent relief amounting to €150,000 in renter’s assistance. “This boils down to a basic necessity for a great many Formentera families”, asserted the conseller.

Ca na Costa
The finance chief explained that an additional €900,000 included in the spending adjustment would enable the Consell to use the right of first refusal amid a potential land sell-off. “The Consell has been notified of the possible sale of Ca na Costa,” said Escandell, “if it goes forward and the price is right, the Consell will exercise its prerogative to acquire a heritage site which dates to roughly 2000 BC. Not only is Ca na Costa the oldest megalithic site in the Balearic Islands, but features like the chamber, perforated tiles, radials, outer platform and retaining walls make it wholly unique in the world”.

The Ca na Costa archaeological dig site was classed as a cultural interest asset in 1994. The remains of eight individuals figure among the materials uncovered there. Conseller Escandell said the land, which sits on 100,000 square metres at the eastern side of Estany Pudent, “is of an incalculable importance to Formentera’s heritage and the local environment”.

Refunding tax on dynamic advertising
Cross-party support also materialised behind a proposal to modify the guidelines of a tax on so-called dynamic advertising. Mobility chief Rafael González announced local government would be refunding in full the levy paid by taxi drivers to engage in dynamic marketing, reasoning that taxing such advertising “isn’t a priority during these times of crisis”.

Honouring law enforcement
A proposal to honour members of Formentera Local Police and other security forces received backing from both the GxF-PSOE cabinet and Sa Unió. “Amid emergency orders and afterwards, during this eminently atypical summer season, island law enforcement went above and beyond to ensure compliance with the imperatives of the public health crisis”, said the chief of the interior department. “These distinctions are a way to applaud those efforts.”

Assembly members voted to award the Cross for Police Merit to nine officers on the island force, including police chief Félix Ramos Pérez. Special Consell de Formentera honours went to chief commander of the Eivissa-Formentera Civil Guard, Enrique Gómez Bastida, “for his dedication and commitment to Formentera Local Police missions”.

Waste management contract
Cabinet members overcame opposition abstention to pass framework for the island’s waste management contract—“a necessary step in order to tender a crucial local service”, indicated environment chief Antonio J Sanz. The conseller said the terms of the contract were nearing completion and the offer would be put to tender pending plenary approval.

Another measure to pass with cabinet support despite opposition abstention was a partnership between the Formentera Department of Environment and Balearic Agency of Water and Environmental Quality (Abaqua) to upgrade the sanitation service and water purification plant. “This is a compact that hasn’t been renewed since 2005”, said the environment chief, “but it means Abaqua can continue running the plant without losing any of the new upgrades and maintenance funding that have been secured”.

Highway agreement
Assembly members granted support to a GxF-PSOE-brokered proposal to petition the central government to update its roads agreement with the island. Such a change could usher in road improvements as recommended in an investment report prepared by the Consell de Formentera and currently awaiting revision. According to the mobility conseller, the measure means holding Madrid’s feet to the fire on writing improvements of island roads into the Spain’s general 2021 spending plan.

Health care improvements
Another cabinet-brokered proposal to succeed despite the abstention of the opposition was a motion to petition the Balearic Health Service to restructure and expand face-to-face primary care at the Formentera Health Centre (Centre de Salut de Formentera, CSF). The change is aimed at equipping the CSF for differentiated care based on whether patients present respiratory difficulties, differentiated care for visits by paediatricians, replacements of absent staff and an upgraded system of online care.

An additional motion tabled by the opposition sought to urge the Balearic Health Service to upgrade dialysis spaces and terminals at the Formentera hospital and restore dialysis service on the island—“a change that would allow local patients to forgo travel to Eivissa”, reasoned social welfare chief Rafael Ramírez.

Progress report from Consellera Juan
Consellera Ana Juan stood before the assembly to take stock of efforts in departments within her remit. “Covid-19 has left us rattled, particularly in terms of well-being, and in this unusual and trying situation, vision, dialogue and consensus are more important than ever. The people of Formentera need to be our number-one priority”, she insisted.

Juan pointed to €150,000 in housing assistance adopted by members of the day’s plenary. The special line of assistance is designed to help low-earning families and “cohabitation units” access and keep rental housing. Meanwhile, she stressed that older islanders were one of the most vulnerable groups amid the current pandemic, and highlighted Covid-19-related measures at the start of the pandemic involving “telephone-based support and upwards of five hundred phone calls in an effort to detect possible victims of the disease who lived alone and needed help”.

Consellera Juan likewise described one project in early stages of development and receiving funding from the regional job seekers’ office that is geared toward local employment, training and entrepreneurialism and moving towards full employment in 2020–2023. She underscored an array of training and employment courses as well, “all aimed at reaching as many people as possible; we’re in an immensely tricky situation and need all hands on deck”. Juan’s review extended to cooperation with groups representing local businesses and sellers at Formentera’s outdoor markets —“a sector that generates wealth based on trust and proximity”, the consellera noted— to support and publicise commercial operations battered by the pandemic.

Proclamation
Lastly, unanimous support was secured for an official statement from the Consell on World Day against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in Women, Girls and Boys, celebrated 23 September. As Local equality chief Vanessa Parellada put it, “equality between women and men will remain a chimera so long as women, girls and boys are bought, sold, exploited and prostituted”. Parellada insisted on the importance of abolishing prostitution and eradicating human trafficking for sexual exploitation. In the statement, assembly members declared that “as apparent with the first-ever ‘Feminist Classrooms’ event hosted last week, islanders stand united behind these principles”.

25 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

This Monday, artists join forces to present “Orígens”

cartell 2020 origensThe Formentera Department of Culture reports that from 7.00pm Monday 28 September, the Ajuntament Vell exhibition space will welcome a group show entitled Orígens. Seven local artists —Emilia Brussoni, Maribel Escandell, Robert P Hawkins, Celia Jiménez, Teresa Matilla, Enric Riera and Fran Lucas— put their heads together for an exhibition to which each participant contributed two works of his or her choosing (from acrylic to oil to canvas to mixed media) as well as a text and an object speaking to how the featured artwork came into being.

Regular opening hours for Orígens are 11.00am to 2.00pm and 6.00pm to 8.00pm, 29 September to 10 October. The show’s seven contributing artists belong to the Association of Formentera Artists (ADAF).

25 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Deal aims to boost hometown businesses

foto 2020 cel obert 1When deputy premier of the Balearic Islands and minister of energy transition and productive sectors Juan Pedro Yllanes sat down this morning with Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer, the two signed a pledge to collaborate around support of island businesses and, specifically, promotion of Formentera as an “open-air commercial space”. The aim of the deal, which also saw the involvement of two other officials —Miguel Piñol, who heads the Balearic commerce division, and Ana Juan, Formentera’s chief of housing, seniors, commerce and entrepreneurialism— is to develop Formentera businesses’ competitive edge and shape actions encouraging islanders to shop locally.

The investment made possible by the accord’s €14,000 in associated funding, to which Formentera pledges the remainder after a €10,000 contribution from the Balearic energy transition and productive sectors department, is designed to support development and promotion of business activity in the municipality.

“Help for small business is pivotal in these times of crisis”, insisted President Ferrer. Family-run establishments make up the lion’s share of small-scale commercial operations on the island; they also help guarantee cohesion and services. And Ferrer emphasised that this year with Covid-19 and the attendant crisis, hometown businesses and those offering essential services have been on the front lines. “They were the ones assuring access to services amid lockdown while others remained closed for months on end”, she said, “and they stayed open post-lockdown too, despite facing an unusual season, which is why they need our help now more than ever”.

For his part, the deputy premier described open-air projects as “integral to our plans to relaunch local economies”and proclaimed: “They’re a way for us to promote island businesses and urban centres while simultaneously diversifying economic activity”. “It’s the reason we’re working on similar agreements in as many Balearic municipalities as possible”, he concluded.

Following the initial encounter, the four officials discussed the agreement and the unfolding situation with members of the island’s small and medium-sized business association, Pimef, and the Formentera Chamber of Commerce.

24 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell de Formentera adds voice to European Day of Languages

foto 2020 dia europeu llenguesThe Formentera Department of Language Normalisation reports that, aside from adhering to the European Day of Languages on Saturday 26 September, the department has added its name to a proclamation by the Govern balear favouring diversity of European languages and cultures and efforts to foment and protect them.

“This day is crucial to securing the official status of Catalan in Europe”, said FDCN chief Raquel Guasch. “Keep in mind, in Spain and in the Catalan-speaking lands in particular, there are still milestones of linguistic normalisation that we’ve yet to reach”, she continued. “Catalan still doesn’t benefit from the prestige and presence of its status as an official language. This is about highlighting the importance of language policies within public administrations”, she insisted.

Guasch said preserving the Catalan language was key, and remarked the Consell’s adoption earlier this year of revised nomenclature for towns, roads and public spaces in urban areas on the island was “essential...the visibility of toponyms means our attention to this subject is crucial”.

Promoted by the Balearic divisions of exterior relations and language policies, week-long celebrations around the European Day of Languages were joined by different island councils in the Balearics, the Federation of Local Entities in the Balearic Islands (FELIB), the Palma municipal government and Europe’s Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity.

The keynote act is a 7.00pm lecture tomorrow (Friday) at the Balearic parliament by Antoni Llabrés. The doctor and professor of law at the UIB will speak about the legal aspects of multilingual regions and language rights. The talk will be livecast at diaeuropeullengues.caib.cat.

24 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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