Councilor Vidal highlights the measures for improving public transport, the pace of investment to create more public housing, the streamlining of rental aid, and European funds for energy rehabilitation.
She also claims the central government the same treatment as the Canary Islands to extend state funding for free public transport in the Balearic Islands, and the recovery of the railway agreement to finance new extensions of the network.
Regional Ministry of Housing, Territory and Mobility
The Conselleria de Vivienda, Territorio y Movilidad increases its budget for 2024, by 6.2%, up to 240 million euros, an initial figure that will be reinforced with allocations from the insularity factor and the Impulso del Turismo Sostenible (ITS) fund, to stand at 274 million, and will increase investments by 14%, focused above all, as highlighted by the Councilor Marta Vidal, on measures to improve the public transport network, the pace of investment in the construction of public housing and the streamlining of the management of aid for renting and for the energy rehabilitation of housing, among others.
The Minister of Housing, Territory and Mobility, Marta Vidal, has presented the general lines of the draft budget for 2024 to the Finance and Budget Committee of the Parliament of the Balearic Islands and has stressed that both policies to facilitate access to housing and improving public transport are “priorities” for the Government. He also highlighted the increases in the budget or the investment chapter of the companies and public entities attached to the Ministry, such as the Balearic Housing Institute (IBAVI), Railway Services of Mallorca (SFM) and the Transport Consortium of Mallorca (CTM).
In the case of IBAVI, the budget increased by almost 10%, up to 88.7 million, 8 million more than this year, and of this budget, more than half (initially 53 million) is for investment. SFM, for its part, increases investment by almost 1 million, to 88.8 million, and maintains an overall budget of 147 million for 2024; while CTM’s budget grows by 18%, to 75.6 million, an increase of 11.6 million over 2023. The Cartographic and Geographic Institute of the Balearic Islands (ICGIB) increases its budget by 6.4% and stands at 1.34 million.
As for the budget of the Conselleria, it is initially almost 240 million and increases by 6.2%, by 14.1 million, with respect to the current areas in 2023 in the previous structure of the Govern. The chapters destined to investments increase by 14.2%, an increase of 19 million, to 153.2 million. In addition, in the initial budget of the ministry or public entities, another 34 million more will be incorporated for investments, from the allocations coming from the Insularity Factor (24 million) and the ITS fund (10 million for Sustainable Mobility), so that a total of 274 million will be available.
Increase in the IBAVI budget
In relation to housing, Councilor Vidal highlighted the budget increase of almost 10% for the IBAVI, which will maintain the pace of investment in public housing developments, both those under construction and new ones and explained that more than 20 agreements are expected to be signed with municipalities and entities for the transfer of land for the construction of new public housing developments. For investment, the IBAVI has 53.3 million for 2024, at the level of the previous budget, although of the 56 million budgeted for 2023, only about 24 have been executed, less than half, and no previous project has been stopped.
In addition, it continues with other initiatives, such as the IBAVI Mortgage Guarantee program, which helps the purchase of the habitual residence with a guarantee of up to 20% of the mortgage and which will have 12 million by 2024. So far, IBAVI has approved 200 guarantees through this program, worth 4.8 million. The budget also includes 2.4 million for purchase operations, by first refusal, of public subsidized housing, for which, in addition, there are 6 million left over from previous years.
Improvement in the management of rental subsidies and European funds for rehabilitation
As for the programs of the General Directorate of Housing and Architecture, they have 60.2 million. One of the objectives is to speed up the payment of rental subsidies, both for the new 2023 line, endowed with 8.77 million and for which the deadline for submitting applications is already open (from November 15 to December 15), as well as for the subsidies pending from the last two years. For 2024, the rental aid amounts to 9.2 million, since it includes almost half a million for the Bono Alquiler Joven, financed with state funds.
One of the functions of the Directorate General for Housing and Architecture is to manage and control the execution of the Housing Plans in the Balearic Islands and other aid programs for rehabilitation and social housing, to guarantee their execution. In this sense, work is being done to improve the management of European funds received in recent years for aid for energy rehabilitation, of which 45 million was received and only about 10% has been executed. In the case of the three programs for the rehabilitation of housing and residential buildings, of the 29.5 million received, only 1.3 million had been granted, and for this reason, the Conselleria has recently launched a publicity campaign to publicize these aids, which can be applied for until December 31.
Regarding energy efficiency, the Directorate General promotes aid for university training and collaborates with the University of the Balearic Islands in the project of the new Master’s Degree in permanent training in the application of energy efficiency in the maintenance and conservation of buildings. For 2024, it also foresees the improvement of the management of the registry of unoccupied dwellings, through the implementation of a computer application to systematize the registry in an agile and updated way. It also foresees other technological and IT improvements, such as a new architectural design software program.
New Housing Observatory of the Balearic Islands
Another novelty for 2024 is the inclusion in the budget of an item (200,000 €) to create and implement a new tool, as will be the Housing Observatory of the Balearic Islands, a platform for the exchange of information and proposals that has to support public and personal stakeholders in the sector, for planning, study and analysis of the reality of housing on each island and the sector, “and to provide us with data and updated and real information, a fundamental issue for decision making”. “Having data, statistics and reference indicators is essential for analysis and the ability to manage and make decisions,” stressed the councillor.
On the other hand, in the area of territory and urban planning, the Directorate General of Territory and Landscape has a budget of almost 2.4 million and wants to promote various programs that are required by law and that today have not yet been developed, such as the report on the implementation of the guidelines for land management (DOT) of 1999; and continue updating the Urban Map of the Illes Balears, among other actions. For its part, the Cartographic and Geographic Institute of the Balearic Islands increased its budget by 6.4%, to 1.34 million, and together with the Directorate General will work on the drafting of a Cartographic Law of the Balearic Islands, with which to provide the Islands with their cartographic system.
For its part, the Directorate General for Urban Coordination and Harmonization has a budget of 1.23 million for 2024. This general directorate aims to harmonize urban planning regulations and technical nomenclature, as well as collaboration and coordination with municipalities and island councils in urban planning matters and plans to establish next year a collaboration agreement with institutions for the development of a future new Housing Law of the Balearic Islands.
Improvements in public transport and claims for state funding.
In terms of mobility, Councilor Vidal remarked that “this Government is working from day one to improve the services provided to citizens, both the current train and metro services and the intercity buses of the TIB in Mallorca, as well as to advance in the projects to expand the public transport network”. For 2024, the General Directorate of Mobility increased the budget by 19 million, up to 168.7 million. SFM maintains a budget of 147, of which the investment chapter grows by almost 1 million, up to 80.6 million, and CTM increases the budget by 18% (+11.5 million), up to 75.6 million.
The councilor confirmed that by 2024 the public transport fleet will be increased, with the incorporation of 10 buses and five trains, and that improvements have already been introduced in recent months, such as the reinforcement of the intercity bus service of the TIB of Mallorca, in which improvements have been made in 27 lines in the new winter schedules compared to last winter, or in actions in the SFM network, in terms of maintenance and safety of the stations, with the start of a comprehensive cleaning plan of stations, in addition to the commissioning of a new station, the Constancia / Hospital de Inca halt.
In the case of CTM, the budget allocated to the intercity bus service is increased by 13% and stands at 59.3 million for 2024, and several actions to improve bus stops and stations are also planned for 2024, with an overall allocation of 3.8 million. On the part of SFM, in terms of investments, work will continue on the extension of the UIB line to Parc Bit, and the remodelling and improvement of the Son Rullan workshops are included, also linked to the incorporation of the new trains.
It is also planned to implement new safety systems that will facilitate the circulation of more trains on the tracks, and the refurbishment and renovation of the building of the former Hostal Terminus, to house the future offices and other SFM technical facilities, as well as other social and cultural uses. Also budgeted are the overtaking points between Sineu and Manacor and the improvement of the Greco Street underpass in Palma.
On the other hand, Councilor Vidal has stated that the government will not renounce free public transport by 2024. In this sense, she referred to the various agreements between parties for the investiture at the national level and said that the Government will claim to the central Executive the same treatment as the Canary Islands in case this archipelago receives a 100% bonus, so that the Balearic Islands receive next year the necessary state funding for free public transport, beyond the bonuses to certain groups.
In addition, the Councilor also argued that the Balearic Islands have to recover a railway agreement with the Government of Spain to receive state funding to carry out projects to expand the railway network. In this sense, he also stated that the Government has not stopped any railway project of the previous executive, but all of them continue their procedures and clarified that none of the announced projects, such as the Manacor-Artà line or the tramway of the Bay of Palma, were ready to start the works, nor had or have secured the necessary funding for the entirety of each project.
The budget for 2024 includes the costs foreseen for the drafting of new projects for the extension of the train network, for technical assistance to finalize the informative studies -an initial phase of the administrative procedures- and to be used for the drafting of works projects for the construction of new lines. In the case of the Levante train, it does not yet have a project for the execution of works, and in addition, the demand studies of all possible extensions have to be updated, both for this line and for the two other lines: the Palma-Airport-Llucmajor-Campos and Sa Pobla-Alcúdia corridors.