by Staff Reporter
FRANCESC Antich, the spokesman for the Socialist Party in the Balearic parliament, claimed yesterday that the government would raise the average number of pupils per classroom in order to comply with their election promise of allowing parents to choose their children's school centre but said that this would reduce the quality of teaching, whether it is in a public or private school. Antich, speaking after a Socialist party parliamentary meeting, condemned the educational move as a “step backwards” in terms of what he felt had been achieved by his own party in its previous term of office. “Socialist policy was to ensure quality both in public and private teaching” said Antich, who highlighted education as a priority issue for the parliamentary Opposition. He went on to criticise announcements made by the Balearic Education and Culture Minister, Francesc Fiol, as “lacking in substance”. He pointed out that his own party, when in power, had drawn up a plan to increase the number of nurseries available and to improve school dining room facilities. He announced that the Opposition would concentrate its activities on quality in the workplace, access to housing, and public transport. Antich further slammed present government initiatives which, he claimed, appeared to “be going in the opposite direction”. He suggested that a more responsible approach to their management be adopted. The Socialists also aim to prioritize health management, for which special attention will be given to hospital construction on Formentera, in Mahón (Minorca), at Inca and restructuring of the old Son Dureta hospital. They propose to keep an eye on the development of Health Law and deal with hospital waiting lists; a cause which was championed by the Popular Party during the previous Socialist government, Antich claimed. Neverthless, he felt convinced that “at the moment, there is little clarity from the present government in the Balearics on what they propose to do about the waiting lists in the Health Service”. The Socialist leader claimed that it was out of a need to “return favours” that Tomás Cortés had been appointed the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. He said that he should have been titled “the Minister for Everything” to avoid squabbling in the department. Antich said the agriculture sector was “strategic” to the Balearic Islands since it is agricultural workers who conserve the landscape. It is “the finest industry of our Community” he specified. He added that the current Balearic government appears to “make a new proposal every fortnight” on the issue of roadways, even if it's not included in official planning. Antich labelled the government's intention to build a motorway between Inca and Manacor as “disgraceful”. In his opinion, this plan will blight the Plain of Majorca, block the roadways into Palma and create problems for the road link that already exists between the two localities. Antich was clear that “within three weeks”, it would have been possible to begin widening the Palma-Manacor highway, that had been approved by his coalition government. This road “needs urgent attention” given that the route has a high fatal accident record. He expressed his concern over the present government's policy on public housing and announced that his Socialist party (PSOE) would keep a watchful vigil to make sure that the construction of 2'500 subsidized dwellings for families on low incomes which his government had approved, didn't get “swept under the carpet”. He made reference to the fact that his own party had been addressing the issue of making land more readily available to town councils.
Antich also pointed to the increase in unemployment figures for the month of August in the Balearics and drew attention to the support his own party had given to women in the work place, prior to the present government coming to power.


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