Antich during his speech which opened the debate.

Balearic leader Francesc Antich yesterday proposed a pact to develop and adjust the new growth model for the islands, which will allow for future planning “without falling into the errors of the past,” and another, more specific one, on quality in tourism, “as the only way to maintain leadership” in this field. Antich launched the two messages in his opening speech at the debate on his government's general policy which is being held in the Balearic parliament. The debate will continue today and tomorrow. Antich stretched out a hand to the entire tourist sector in general, inviting them to join a pact for quality in tourism, which will offer “top quality territory, balanced and with no massification,” in which priority will be given to the environment. He offered to negotiate a new general law on tourism and all projects which will be financed through the tourist tax over the next ten years, calling for an investment of 500 million euros, at the rate of 50 million euros a year. He also announced that next year's budget would include funds to guarantee unpaid alimony, and there would be free dental treatment for children under the age of 14. Antich complained about the “lack of interest” of the central government, which, he claimed, blocked many projects essential for the quality of life in the islands. “We do not receive the same treatment that we give,” he said, claiming that every major initiative from the Balearics systematically ends up in the constitutional court. He was particularly bitter about the underwater gas pipe line, which the Balearic government says is essential, but the central government has blocked. He repeated demands for the same treatment over air transport as enjoyed by the Canary Islands, where tickets have only gone up by eight per cent over four years, while here the increase is nearer 65 per cent. During his speech, he referred to the past, when solutions involved increasing construction, massification, desalination plants, motorways, cement and the destruction of the landscape, and claimed that reversing this trend had been a major part of his government's policy. The Greens, which form part of the ruling Progress Pact, described the speech as low key and criticised the lack of proposals over immigration. Maria Antonia Munar, president of the Council of Majorca and leader of the Majorcan Union (UM) party, offered to act as a bridge between the government and hoteliers in the tourism pact. She said that Antich had made an accurate diagnoses of the problems in the Balearics. Opposition spokesman José María González Ortea of the Popular Party criticised the speech saying that after three years of legislature, Antich had made a speech saying what the government would do, when what it has achieved so far has been very little. But Eberhard Grosske of the United Left, said it was the best speech on the state of the community made this legislature.


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