While people in the Balearics are feeling the pinch with the cost of living rocketing, the local government is also finding it hard making ends meet. While the region is renowned in Spain for being the wealthiest, and one of the most expensive, the Balearic government is the poorest in Spain and this year will be spending less per person than any other autonomous region. A recent analysis of autonomous government budgets for 2002 in Spain has shown that the Balearics has the least available money to spend per inhabitant. While the government of Navarre in northern Spain will be spending 4'497 euros per person over the course of the year, in the Balearics, the government will be investing just 1'217 euros. The government in the Basque Country also has a healthy budget of 3'171 euros per person, however both regions have a different financial system to the Balearics and are funded through central government, with which the present Balearic government is at constant logger-heads. Ironically, in Andalucia, one of the poorest regions in Spain with the highest unemployment, the government has twice as much money to spend per person this year. The Andalucian regional government has the highest autonomous budget for 2002 of 18'999 million euros. Catalonia has 14'842 million euros in its coffers for the year ahead and Valencia will be spending 9'986 million euros over the course of the year. The Balearic government however is going to have to make ends meet with 1'069 million euros. But while the Balearic government appears to be operating on a shoe string, the government managed to balance the books with one of the lowest levels of debt. For this year's budget, the government has given itself an operating margin of 3.4 per cent, while, for example, the government in Cantabria, is prepared to go seven per cent in to the red this year. However, critics of the Balearic government have been urging it to secure a better return on regional taxes paid in to central government coffers. While some politicians claim that a better tax return from Madrid would have resolved the tourist tax problem, with the Balearics slowly gaining more control over public services, such as health and education, the region will need a serious injection of public funding.


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