The State Government last week approved a measure to reactivate the constuction sector in Spain, under which Menorca's Town Councils will receive 16 million euros to carry out projects of work not included in their budgets for 2009. The various Councils have one month in which to put forward their proposals.
The island's Mayors (with the exception of Ciutadella) held a meeting last Wednesday to discuss the subject and look for the means of collaboration necessary, given the urgency of the matter. Marc Pons, stated that, as the projects had to be presented by 24th January the Island Council would make their technical services department available to the Councils so that not a cent of the grant would be wasted. The President of the Island Council explained the workings of the national anti-crisis plan, which will provide 8,000 million euros for the whole of the country: "once the project has been presented, the State must give its approval within 20 days and the Town Councils then have one month in which to contract the work out". Work on the projects must start before Easter and finish within one year and the contractors must employ people currently on the dole to carry out the schemes.
The state aid will be shared between the Councils on the basis of the population of the individual municipal districts: thus Maó will receive the largest sum, 5,005,936; Ciutadella 4,958,680; Alaior 1,587,939; Es Castell 1,350,243; Sant Lluís 1,135,203; Es Mercadal 856,269; Ferreries 807,597; and Es Migjorn Gran 268,668. However the importance of the aid is clear from the Mayor of Es Migjorn's comment that it "represents 12% of our budgeted municipal income".
The state aid can be used for a wide scope of projects and much of it will probably be spent on street improvements although it could be used for schemes such as fire prevention or to develop tourism.
One of the aspects most appreciated by the Mayors was the opportunity to carry out projects that cost less than 350,000 euros which, as they do not have to be put out to public tender, can be awarded to the smaller contractors.
The Mayors are aware that this is a unique opportunity for them, a chance to reduce unemployment levels and reactivate the island's economy.
In another measure to reduce unemployment, the Balearic Government has made 10 million euros available to Town Councils throughout the archipelago for a project designed to provide employment for 1,000 people currently out of work in the islands. Aimed mainly at ex-construction workers who are not currently receiving any social benefits, the scheme will provide them with a six-month contract until May, working on general interest projects connected with the environment, culture or social services.
The Balearic Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has raised the budget for aid to the sector to 30 million euros.
The money will be used to modernise farms and Councillor Mercè Amer guaranteed that the more than 500 applications received would receive a response from the Government.
The Government also authorised a pilot plan for sustainable development in rural areas in Menorca and the Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca. The 3 million euro project aims to give continuity to farms and make them viable, using traditional environmentally-friendly methods of maintenance, in keeping with the concept of a Biosphere Reserve.
Maó and Ciutadella's plans
Maó is to put forward a list of more than twenty projects for the state aid. These include improvements to road surfaces, road infrastructure and pavements and a complete overhaul of Avenida J. Mª Quadrado. Work will be done on the drainage systems and public buildings, e.g. a new roof for the municipal sports centre and restoration of the northern facade of the Claustre del Carme. The six primary schools will also benefit and two more classrooms will be built at Es Passarells Infants School. A lift will be installed in the Explanada car park and there will be a programme to reduce the consumption and light contamination in the centre of Maó and Cala Llonga. Sant Climent will have a multiple use sports court and Llucmaçanes a basketball court.
Ciutadella Council is working on the list of projects which will be put forward for its share of the aid and this should be published shortly. However, it seems likely that two projects which will be included are improving the outstanding section of the Contramurada and work on some of the streets in the town centre.