Balearic leader Francesc Antich said in parliament yesterday that the tourist tax would be introduced sooner or later. This was just one of the points brought out in his speech which opened the debate on the state of the region and which will continue until tomorrow. Antich detailed some of the achievements of his government over the past two years, and some of the initiatives which will be introduced in the remaining two years of his term of office. He said that the government would continue to pay an annual complementary sum to people on the lowest pensions. It will take the form of a credit card, for 30'000 pesetas. He described this initiative as a pioneer scheme in Spain, and it corresponded to the coalition government's commitment to increase the lowest pensions and avoid central government interference in the matter. The government leader said that he would continue to demand an increase in discounts on air travel to the Peninsula for residents, up to 50 per cent of the fare. He also wants the flights declared a public service. Antich repeated his demands for responsibility for the airports and said that the Balearics already had a model for management which would increase the competitiveness of island companies. The transport and energy plans were also touched on by the Balearic leader. Commenting on the economy, he repeated his government's intention to move towards quality tourism, redistributing the flow of visitors and diversifying the offer by promoting rural, cultural, sports tourism and congresses. But he admitted that this called for major investment, which the government hoped to achieve by applying the tourist tax. Defending the tax which has been put on hold by the central government's decision to lodge an appeal at the Constitutional Court - Antich said that it had been a bold, rigorous decision, as well as a right one. It would allow the government to raise its own funds to improve the environment, tourist areas, natural and rural spaces and the heritage. And he said that despite the central government's appeal, soon or later there will be a tourist tax, and it will be a decisive instrument to make our model of tourism more competitive. Antich said right at the start that he proposed to centre his speech in real problems and people's hopes, adding that our identity is the best compass to sail in a globalised and increasingly complex world.
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