The Spanish government finally hit back at the beleaguered Balearic left-wing coalition, which has spent most of its two years in power blaming central government for all the region's problems, yesterday denying that Madrid is tightening the screw on the Balearic government.n The Minister for Public Administration, Jesús Posada, addressing the chief executive committee of the Balearic Partido Popular on central government's budget for 2002, categorically denied that the Partido Popular government is trying to “steam roll” the Balearics. He backed his claims up by saying that a huge budget increase for the Balearics has been approved for next year. Posada was questioned about the local government's claims that Madrid has deliberately held back public funding from the Balearics, accusations the Minister “totally” rejected, announcing a “notable” increase in public funding for the forthcoming year, especially with regards to Ministry of the Environment coffers. “There are absolutely no grounds for accusations of steam roller politics,” Posada said. He admitted that the failure of the Balearic government to push ahead with the road project, with a budget of 57'000 million pesetas, was a shame, but said that the Balearic government approved an anti-motorway policy and therefore were not eligible for the funding. Jesús Posada explained that Spain's budget for 2002 has been drawn up in mind of the fact that “we're going through a period of uncertainty and we don't know how the economy is going to evolve.” However, the Minister said that Spain is in a “strong and solid” position. “Our economy has grown well above the European Union average and created more jobs, factors we want to preserve,” Posada said. But the overriding concern of the PP and the government is to make sure Spain is in a solid budgetary position and is prepared to “in the best way possible” deal with any problems which may occur as a result of the current global situation. The Minister also reminded the local government that under the new autonomous finance model, local government will be accountable to the central administration for revenue and, he stressed, expenditure. The government has been criticised for including new spending restrictions in the autonomous financial model, but Posada explained that the limits will be enforced to prevent local authorities overspending “which will only lead to economic instability” at autonomous and national levels.