By Lois Jones LEADER of the Balearic government Jaume Matas yesterday met Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar for the first official round of talks the two men have had since the May 25 elections and Matas was elected Balearic president. Matas asked for an investment from central government of 1'500 million euros to go towards solving the region's problems. Speaking after the meeting with the prime minister in Madrid, Matas announced that at Aznar's request, he was to meet with central government's second vice-president, Rodgrigo Rato, on 31 July next. At the top of the agenda will be the problems of power supply in the Balearics as the past few days have witnessed lengthy electricity cuts across Majorca and Minorca. The President of the Balearics gave assurances that a good part of the investment of 1'500 million euros that he has asked for from central government will go to putting a stop “once and for all” to the power supply problems in the Islands. The current power station monopoly will be brought to a close and a cable connection will be put in place linking the Balearics with the national grid. The central government Minister for Public Administration, Javier Arenas, approved the investment of 1'500 million euros to be made in the Balearics by the Government over the coming years. He believed that the end of the “monopoly” that currently administers electricity distribution in the Islands will “guarantee” the future of a stable power supply. Furthermore, Matas has asked José María Aznar to give the government's backing to Palma's bid to host the 2007 America's Cup; although Valencia is still in the running. Another issue on the agenda was the excessive price of airline tickets between the Balearics and the mainland. The Balearic President gave assurances that this burning issue is already being dealt with as the Balearic Minister for Public Works has begun a series of consultations with airline companies to negotiate an inter-island public service. Matas said that negotiations are on track and that the project will be out before the Balearic government in September. If approved, it will then go forward for final ratification by the European Union and, assuming they give the “go-ahead”, a public air service offering acceptable prices “may be in place before the end of the year”. He pointed out that the investment forecast of 1'500 million euros over the next few years will come under the “umbrella” of the Special Balearics Régime (REB) development programme. Matas stated that he was hopeful that his meeting with Rato will provide a “final solution” to the problem of the Balearics' energy supply. He would like to see the Islands given a cable connection to the national grid “without losing the option of a natural gas supply”. The Balearic President didn't specify how much investment would be needed to bring the current monopoly of electricity administration to an end as the figure would depend to a certain extent on any agreement made with central government. With regard to Aznar's support for Palma as one of the Spanish cities to be considered as host for the 2007 America's Cup, he said the prime minister was backing both bids with Spain's interests as a whole at heart. Matas claimed his meeting with Aznar had been “thoroughly productive”. It had served to “firm up central government's agreement to invest 1'500 million euros” in the Islands which have “suffered an inadequate infrastructure due to lack of funds”. Matas said that the funding will also be used for road building, for major works related to water conservation and supply as well as for environmental protection and improvement of tourist facilities. Javier Arenas referred to the meeting with the Spanish President as being “particularly cordial” due to the goodwill and mutual respect that existed on the part of those present who wished to “make progress within the framework of democracy”. He also praised the qualitative level of responsible government in the Balearics and confirmed that the total investment of 1'500 million euros will take place “year on year”.