With the first wave of the desalination plants now up and running pumping thousands of cubic metres of much needed water into the supply network, central government is expected to this morning approve a 2'800 million pesetas aid package for Spain's drought hit regions, such as the Balearics. The aid package will be a Royal Decree and included in the new legislation will also be a series of measures aimed at easing the effects of the drought. This morning's move has been long awaited by the agricultural sector and the government aid package will make 8'000 million pesetas available for farmers who have been hit directly by the drought, which in the Balearics is the worst in the past century, and another 10'000 million pesetas will be available via a low interest loan scheme for farmers who have lost serious amounts of money and have to re-invest in equipment and planting in order to revive their livelihoods. The Ministry for Agriculture said yesterday that while the effects of the drought have not been as harsh as expected this year, the Balearics and Murcia have been hit far worse than anywhere else and these are the only two regions where the drought is persisting to have a negative affect. In Catalonia, for example, farmers have been hit not by the drought, but by early summer torrential rains. Any loans taken out by farmers under the aid package will be interest free for the first two years and those severely hit, will see their tax rates reduced in order to ease the financial burden.


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