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Formentera hosts gathering of council to coordinate Pine Islands police departments

foto 2021 consell de coordinacioRepresentatives of local police departments across Eivissa and Formentera gathered in the Consell de Formentera conference hall today for a meeting of the Coordinating Council for Local Police Departments (CCPPL). Presided over by Balearic Islands Institute of Public Safety director Vicenç Martorell and CCPPL deputy chair and chief of citizen safety in Santa Eulària des Riu Juan Carlos Rosselló, the encounter had a mix of in-person and online attendees, with regional director of emergencies Jaime Barceló tuning in virtually.

Formentera’s chief of interior, Josep Marí, welcomed participants. The CCPPL was conceived as a way to facilitate information sharing between police departments in the Pine Islands and hammer out joint policies and priorities. One motion brought before the CCPPL which received unanimous backing was a call for the Balearic School of Public Administration (EBAP) to host a one-off police training course on Eivissa to help would-be officers prepare for selective exams.

In addition to discussing internal work-related matters, attendees viewed a presentation about police management to coordinate law enforcement responses across the Balearic Islands.

18 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Alejandra Ferrer: “Tackling disparities means fair funding to account for insularity and respect regional tax system”

foto 2021 AF senat AConsell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer joined a conference hosted by Spain’s Senate today on the special situation of islands and peripheral cities such as Ceuta and Melilla. During remarks, the premiere praised senator Vicenç Vidal and all those who had worked to take Formentera and the Balearic Islands' plight as insular territories to the Senate floor, she said, pointing out that the smaller of the Pine Islands has no senator of its own — “a situation we hope to see remedied soon”, she added.

Ferrer began her address by describing Formentera and its idiosyncrasies to give legislators a sense of islanders’ everyday reality. She went on to enumerate the challenges inherent in an economy so heavily structured around a tourist season that starts in May and concludes in mid-October.

Before the Consell de Formentera existed, Ferrer pointed out that residents had long clamoured for their own government — “one that would let islanders defend hometown issues locally and ensure they enjoyed the same rights as the rest of Spain’s citizens”.

Since its founding, the island’s government has taken on a wide range of new functions, coming to guarantee many basic services like care for dependent individuals and people with functional diversity, not to mention working to promote inclusiveness in employment and society at large. “We implement specific plans and policies for gender equality, children and young people, but disparities remain because we continue to lack many crucial services”, Ferrer said, holding up examples of medical care like radiotherapy, haemodialysis and mental health services which, to obtain, Formentera residents must leave the island. “The same goes for central government services like paperwork processing for our foreign-born residents, or administrative formalities involving the courts, taxes, the treasury and social security, all of which must be done on the neighbouring island. Likewise, many local decisions are affected by the economic interests of other territories. Moorage and inter-island maritime travel, for example, are regulated by multiple agencies which are subject to pressure from lobbies who place their own benefits above the wellbeing of our island’s natural environment”.

Sustainable island
Ferrer also spoke to many local steps past and present to reduce the environmental footprint of tourism, citing protections for posidonia meadows, the island’s plastic bag ban, new e-vehicle recharge points and caps on vehicles during the high season, a scheme which is ultimately projected to cut local traffic 16% by 2023.

There is still a long way to go, Ferrer asserted, “not just protecting our land, but also in terms of guaranteeing basic human rights, especially in a year that has laid bare social inequity and, above all, economic precariousness”.

In that respect, the premiere called for fair funding for the islands: “The Balearic Islands generate wealth and constitute an economic engine, but the funding we receive isn’t commensurate: we’re at the bottom rung in terms of average per-capita investment from the central government”. Nevertheless, Ferrer trumpeted the recent announcement from Madrid that the archipelago would receive special aid for crisis-hit freelancers and business owners.

Triple insularity
Ferrer stressed that Formentera endures a situation of “triple insularity”, a fact entailing “disadvantages when it comes to travel, accessible basic services, goods transport, competitiveness, export capacity or internationalisation, meaning that for an island like Formentera, due to our size, population and geographical situation, diversifying our economy is extremely tricky; in this sense we share problems with rural mainland territories suffering depopulation”.

Ferrer cited problematic corollaries like a higher cost of living —Formentera residents pay an average of 30% more on basic goods than their neighbours across the archipelago— and stiffer than than average rates on desalinated water. Given demand is uniquely seasonal and critical mass of water users is very small, one tonne of water costs €1.96, more than anywhere in Spain and an expense which Formentera residents must pay entirely out of pocket.

Ferrer referred additionally to the housing crunch, saying, “Like the effects of our insularity, exorbitant prices and problems accessing affordable housing are magnified three-fold in our case: Formentera has no periphery, so everything is sold at high street prices”.

“Reverse discrimination is crucial to guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities, more competitive costs, aid to families of students who study off the island and funding to maintain services and infrastructure”, Ferrer added. “In practice, Formentera is part of the hinterland and should receive benefits similar to the Canary Islands at the European and national level”, she insisted.

Finally, Ferrer insisted the healthcare and social crisis had underscored economic fragility and social inequity in the islands, asserting, “If we want to tackle disparities, now more than ever, we need fair funding that reflects our geographical situation and particularities in the regions’ special tax regime”. “We’ll have to roll up our sleeves if we want to see the kind of economic diversification and recovery in the region that will enable us to be competitive in the future and guarantee social equity and islanders’ well-being and quality of life”, she concluded.

18 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

More than 500 pandemic-hit businesses and freelancers eligible for €12.4M in aid

foto 2021 visita armengol BConsell de Formentera premiere and regional first minister Francina Armengol met today with representatives of unions, industry groups and the local productive sector to discuss the central government’s plan, backed by the Council of Ministers, for direct aid to freelancers and businesses battered by the Covid-19 crisis. Also on hand at the gathering were deputy premiere and commerce chief Ana Juan and finance chief Bartomeu Escandell.

Armengol explained that the recently approved royal legislative decree would create €11 billion in assistance for struggling businesses in the following three areas:

-€3-billion credit restructuring fund backed and managed by the Official Credit Institute (ICO).

> The Balearic Islands could receive roughly €162M, with €4,760M (5.5% of the total) in a special ICO fund for Balearic businesses. Over 17,800 businesses could be eligible for more than 26,385 aid disbursements.

-A €1-billion recapitalisation fund for medium-sized businesses through public firm Cofides (highly anticipated by medium- and large-sized businesses whose turnover and operating costs are under €25M).

-A €7-billion regionally-administered fund for crisis-hit SMEs and freelancers.

Targetted aid for Balearics and Canaries
The central government has pledged to give the Balearic and Canary Islands regions €2 billion of the €7-billion direct aid package. Based on year-end comparisons of lost social security earnings in 2019 and 2020, the total for the Balearics will top €900 million.

The remaining direct funds will be distributed to other Spanish regions per REACT-EU criteria.

Eligible local businesses
As many as 554 locally-based firms stand to benefit from up to €12.4 million: 300 self-employed islanders, 227 businesses with fewer than ten employees and 27 with more than then.

The Consell premiere and regional first minister said distribution should reflect the particularities of Formentera and assure that “every business owner and self-employed individual who needs aid can request it”. Ferrer also said the requests should be done “collaboratively with the sector”.

Details of assistance
The money will be available to businesses and freelancers in the hospitality industry; sectors eligible for expanded furloughs based on Royal legislative decree 2/2021, and other particularly hard-hit sectors like commerce- and hospitality-related manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; transport offshoots; aeronautical maintenance, and businesses specialising in culture and sport.

Roughly one hundred professional activities qualify for assistance, which is designed to cover unaccounted for direct costs and debt between March 2020 and 31 May 2021.

Terms of eligibility:
-Up to €3,000 for self-employed individuals not paying taxes on the simplified “module-based” regime who cannot confirm Covid-related revenue losses.

-For other taxpaying businesses, the tax office will require a minimum 30% revenue loss between 2020 and 2021, offering up to €200,000 based on business category and lost revenue — criteria which Balearic and Canary Islands governments can opt to make more inclusive. Assistance will range from €4,000 to €200,000 per business.

To benefit, businesses cannot be headquartered in a tax haven and must not have filed for bankruptcy. They must be operational when aid is requested and must be current with tax and social security payments. They cannot distribute dividends or award board member pay rises for two years, and must remain in business until June 2022.

Current moratoria shall extend to 31 December so viable companies in normal market conditions have the legal means to employ staff and continue operating.

15 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera Local Police cite 19 at weekend

This Saturday Formentera Local Police cited 19 individuals at Es Cap de Barbaria sports pitch with violations of Covid-19 public heath orders. The individuals were engaged in multiple actions which are currently prohibited, including non-federated group contact sports and social gatherings of more than six individuals from two households, not to mention in violation of social distancing guidelines. FLP detected the infractions with the department drone.

15 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera enters public health alert tier 2 as island moves to reopen Monday

foto 2021 reunio salutConsell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer and regional health minister Patricia Gómez met today to review the island’s epidemiological situation beside deputy premiere and commerce chief Ana Juan and director of the Balearic health service Juli Fuster. After the encounter, the officials sat for a press conference to highlight changes in local restrictions that are scheduled to take effect from Saturday 13 March and Monday 15 March.

“The current state of play concerning new Covid-19 cases is very favourable”, said Ferrer, “but we said the same thing as we approached the long weekend in early December and the Christmas holidays. That’s when restrictions were loosened and islanders let their guard down, and Formentera went from tier 1 to enhanced tier 4 public health alert”.

Today, with the island’s low incidence rate and a drastically improved situation on Eivissa, Ferrer said keeping Formentera sealed off to inbound and outbound travel was “unnecessary for now”, but insisted the Balearic government’s refusal to close the islands to outside travel meant certain restrictive measures were “still in order”.

Tier 2 measures

-Indoor and outdoor social and family gatherings remain limited to six people (maximum two households).

From Saturday:

-75% capacity at retail stores.

From Monday:

-Island reopens to in- and outbound travel.
-30% capacity for indoor seating at restaurants; groups of four (max. two households) and service until 5.00pm.
-50% capacity for outdoor seating at restaurants; groups of six (max. two households) and service until 6.00pm.
-Restrictions loosened on sporting and cultural events.

Per agreement by the Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System, specific restrictions from 26 March to 11 April (both inclusive).

-In-/outbound travel prohibited in all regions except Balearic and Canary Islands.
-Important: private gatherings indoors and out are limited to one household.

The Balearic minister insisted that “any loosening of restrictive measures must always be done gradually. And with any de-escalation, there is risk of increased viral spread, so we mustn’t let our guards down”.

President Ferrer pointed out that Formentera’s administration had pressed to keep restrictions in place during Holy Week: “We wanted the travel ban maintained in the region and restrictions on international tourism until we were farther on in the vaccination process. With a sufficient level of herd immunity, we could have reactivated our economy safely and been sure we weren’t jeopardising our wellbeing or personal freedoms by risking a fourth wave and a return to square one”.

“Since the travel ban is being lifted, we’ve asked the Govern balear to keep controls on visitors from the mainland in place and asked for improved controls on islanders when they return. We’ve pressed the government in Madrid for improved controls too, and called for more effective controls so we can be sure international travellers arrive with negative PCR results in hand”.

President Ferrer also stressed the importance of international coordination “so controls are done at travellers’ country of origin, and for health certificates and protocols to assure people can travel safely this summer”.

The premiere concluded by once again asking islanders to be responsible: “In the days ahead we need to be on high alert. People will be coming from off the island, but the virus is already here. We can’t shirk our responsibility towards tourists: many countries and Spanish regions are still closed to travel, so they’ll be few. Some islanders studying elsewhere will be returning home, and some of us here have travel plans of our own. We have to do this responsibly, respecting safety measures and working toward herd immunity if we want to get things back to normal”.

11 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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