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The ecotax will collect over 60 million euros

The ecotax will collect over 60 million euros
The Constitutional Tribunal removes the suspension to the ecotax

The Govern de les Illes Balears calculates that they will collect over 60 million euros by applying the Impuesto sobre las estancias en empresas turísticas de alojamiento, known popularly as the ecotax, that is charged on overnight stays by people in tourist establishments with a daily amount that oscillates between 0.25 and 2 Euros, depending on the type and category of the establishment.

The new tax, aimed at raising funds to improve tourist activity and the preservation of the environment, was approved by the Balearic Parliament last April 10, 2001 with the favourable votes of all the parties who comprise the Progress Pact and the vote against by the parliamentary group Partido Popular. Last September 2001 the Tribunal Constitucional accepted the appeal by the Central Sate Government against the ecotax and suspended its application, but last Thursday, January 17, 2002  they announced the sentence that, awaiting the definite sentence, raises the suspension that impeded the application of the tax. The Balearic Government has declared that they are prepared to apply the ecotax as from March 2002.

The Constitutional Tribunal legally bases its decision stating that the arguments by the State Prosecutor in the appeal of nonconstitutionality presented by the Central Government is not convincing as it does not demonstrate that the application of the tax contributes to the decrease in tourist activity in the Balearics causing a reduction in the collection of  VAT and fiscal business tax. Neither did the CT observe that the application of the tax could cause, as the State Prosecutor stated, damage to the owners of the tourist firms but rather to the individual tourists considered. According to the CT the indeterminate number of affected people alleged by the State Prosecutor can not become an automatic criteria to waive the removal of the suspension, in so much that this indetermination does not impede, if finally the norm is declared unconstitutional, a future return of the tax unlawfully collected.  Finally the CT bases its decision stating that in the deliberation on the interests in conflict, the autonomous interests must prevail, since their aim is the environment and cultural protection, over the private interest of the public against this new tax.

According to today's Diario de Mallorca, the Federación Hotelera de Mallorca has decided to present an appeal before the Superior Tribunal of Justice of the Balearics against the Reglamento de la ecotasa, the norm that must now be approved to apply the tax.  Moreover, the hoteliers have announced that their members will present appeals against the charges of the new tax, which could represent a blockage of the funds from the ecotax until the next parliamentary legislature.  Today's Diario de Ibiza, also informs on the unfavourable reaction of the Federación Hotelera de Eivissa y Formentera to the application of the tax and announces that the hoteliers will meet next Monday January 21, to analyse the situation and to prepare their attendance at the meeting next Wednesday, January 23 in Palma organised by the Confederation of Business Associations of the Balearics  (CAEB).

Meanwhile, according to today's Diari de Balears, the Association of German Travel Agents DRV has sent a letter to the Balearic President, Francesc Antich, protesting against the application of the tax, and Ultima Hora adds that the Association of British Travel Agents ABTA and the International Federation of Touroperators (IFTO) have also stated their protest for the application of the tax. At the same time, today's Ultima Hora Menorca points out in the front page that the president of the Consell de Menorca, Joana Barceló, requests prudence from the Balearic Government before they apply the ecotax and thinks that they should await the results of the International Tourist Fair in Madrid  (FITUR) before taking a decision on when to apply the tax.

The Cámara de Comercio de Mallorca, Eivissa y Formentera has also asked the Balearic Government not to apply the ecotax in view of the uncertainty about hotel occupancy in the coming tourist season and the hoteliers of Zontur insist that the tax is anticonstitutional. The group Aviba, that groups the travel agents, and the Tourist Promotion of Mallorca have once more stated their protest against the application of the ecotax. Finally, the GOB, like other ecological organisations, have expressed their satisfaction with the Constitutional Tribunal's decision and think that it is a good moment to apply the ecotax since 2001 was a record year in relation to tourist income.

To get an idea of what the approximate amount of 60 million euros that the Balearic Government expects to collect means, it is equivalent to 5.6 % of the  Budget for 2002 for the Balearics that amounts to 1069,80 million euros. It is also equivalent to 45.7% of the 2002 Budget of the Mallorcan Council, that comes to 131,08 million euros, or that it is the same as 24,5 % of the investments that the 2002 Budget of the Central Government destined to the Balearics, that amounts to 244,35 million euros.

DEBATE: Should the ecotax be applied?

UPDATE (21/01/2002)

According to today's editions of the Balearic press, yesterday, Sunday, the Minister of Environment of the Central Government, Jaume Matas, and the president of the Mallorcan Council, Maria Antònia Munar, visited Raixa, the property bought recently by the administrations that both politicians represent. During the visit, Jaume Matas once again stated his protest for the application of the ecotax stating that the tax will damage the Balearics. In her turn, Maria Antònia Munar, in the same line as that expressed by Joana Barceló, president of the Menorcan Council, asked for reflection before fixing the ideal moment to apply the tax.

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Date of publication: 19/01/2002

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