Palma de Mallorca
The controversial annual plus of 22,000 euros for residence and transport that until now received the high officials of the Balearic Government registered outside Mallorca will be reduced from next year and will finally reach a maximum of up to 18,000 euros. This has been approved this Wednesday in the Finance Commission by the three parties that make up the Government chaired by the socialist Francina Armengol —PSOE, MÉS per Mallorca and United We Can— and Cs, as well as the PP. On the other hand, the nationalist center party Proposta per les Illes (PI), Vox and MÉS per Menorca have abstained.
It should be remembered that the senior positions of the regional Executive that are not registered in Mallorca have been charging for years a specific bonus of 22,000 euros per year, essentially intended to cover the rental costs of a home on the largest island of the Archipelago. At the beginning of the current legislature and also during this year, 15 senior positions that depended directly on the Government and four more who worked in autonomous public companies, specifically in the IB3 channel, the Tourism Strategy Agency of the Islands, had been collecting that plus. Balearic Islands, Ports of the Balearic Islands and the Balearic Agency for Water and Environmental Quality. In total, there were 19 senior positions.
The aforementioned compensation for residence and transportation was launched in 2000. Initially, only politicians or politicians were entitled to it. advisers resident in Menorca, Ibiza or Formentera who should carry out their work in Mallorca. A decade later, in 2011, it was approved that this compensation could also be received by politicians or advisers from the Peninsula or the Canary Islands who had also been appointed to work in Mallorca as senior officials. It should be remembered that since the democratic restoration, the headquarters of the Balearic Chamber, the regional Executive and the different regional councils are located in Palma.
The now modified bonus was perceived today both by senior officials of the PSOE and MÉS per Mallorca and United We CanAlthough it was this last formation that had the most advisers from outside Mallorca, specifically, six out of the total of 19 senior positions mentioned. In this context, at the end of last year public discrepancies emerged between United We Can and MÉS per Mallorca about whether it would be necessary to review to a greater or lesser extent the meaning of this plus and also about who should collect it. Twelve months ago, the purple formation was initially in favor of keeping the total amount of the plus unchanged. However, the Autonomous Citizen Council of Podemos subsequently decided that it would propose to reduce the aforementioned compensation for residence and transportation from 22,000 to 12,000 euros per year.
The first attempt to reach a global agreement on the plus took place in the plenary session held in December 2019 to debate and vote on the different amendments to the 2020 Budgets. On that date, MÉS per Menorca presented an amendment in which it argued that the aforementioned plus was only charged as of 2020 by senior officials resident in Menorca, Ibiza or Formentera, excluding those who came from the rest of Spain. The aforementioned amendment was rejected, with the votes against the 19 deputies of the PSOE, five from Unidos Podemos and the three from Vox. Instead, the deputies of MÉS per Menorca, MÉS per Mallorca, Gent per Formentera, PI and Cs voted in favor, adding 14 votes in total. For their part, the 16 deputies from the PP and one from the United Left that is part of United We Can abstained.
Both Cs and Unidas Podemos presented at that time transactional amendments to the original amendment of MÉS per Menorca, which were not accepted by the Menorcan eco-sovereignists. The orange formation and the purple formation wanted the compensation for residence and transportation to exceed the 22,000 euros per year then in force to 12,000 euros in total, although Cs defended that the bonus would only be charged again by the senior officials of Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, while Unidas Podemos wanted it to continue to be received by senior officials that did not necessarily come from those three islands. In any case, since all the amendments on this issue were rejected a year ago, the 2020 Budgets were approved keeping the plus of 22,000 euros per year unchanged.
In fact, it was also in December 2019 when the Balearic Anti-Corruption Office initiated an investigation to find out if the aforementioned 19 senior officials who at that time charged the extra for residence and transportation met the necessary requirements to be able to receive the aforementioned compensatory amount or not. The proceedings began after at the end of last year possible irregularities in the collection of said bonus by an advisor of United We could have been reported.
Subsequently, in February of this year, the director of the Office for the Prevention and Fight against Corruption in the Balearic Islands, Jaume Far, issued a report with his conclusions on the controversial annual plus of 22,000 euros. In the report, Far considered that said bonus is legal, although he recommended that the total amount to be received for each senior position should not be generic and invariable, as had been the case until then. Thus, the director of the Office for the Prevention and Fight against Corruption understood that this amount should be set «depending on the reality of the expense», Which should also be justified. Far also recommended in his report to clarify the concepts of “temporary” residence and “permanent” residence. The document was later delivered to the Finance Commission of the Balearic Parliament for analysis.
The agreement finally reached this Wednesday in the Finance Commission on the residence and transport bonus settles an issue on which until recently there were still some discrepancies even within the tripartite itself. Thus, the PSOE and MÉS per Mallorca advocated a few weeks ago to maintain the annual amount of 22,000 euros in the 2021 Community Budgets, while United We Can proposed to reduce it to 14,000 euros and that each high position document justify the expense made. The three aforementioned formations had agreed, on the other hand, that the bonus would only continue to be charged from next year by the senior officials registered in Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, thus leaving the high officials registered in the peninsula.
From the opposition, Cs proposed that the compensation for residence and transport should be a maximum of 12,000 euros and that the expense made be justified through invoices. In this context, Cs and Unidas Podemos planned to defend their respective positions this Wednesday through two amendments, but finally both formations have managed to reach an agreement on the final amount. Thus, as already indicated at the beginning, each senior official will receive from next year a maximum of up to 18,000 euros per residence and transport. Of that total, 6,000 euros will be fixed, while the possible remaining 12,000 euros that can be spent must be justified. The agreement has also been supported by the PSOE, MÉS per Mallorca and the PP.
The spokeswoman for Cs in the regional Parliament, Patricia Guasp, has shown its satisfaction with the majority consensus finally reached. “It is good news for the citizens of the Balearic Islands that the Government tightens its belt,” he said, adding: “We have forced senior officials and advisers who receive this bonus to have to present, annually, a responsible statement in that the place of residence is reflected on an island other than Mallorca ». Guasp recalled that “so far, only one was done when taking office and not again throughout the legislature.”