By Lois Jones
IH has now been one hundred days since the ruling Popular Party swept to power in the Balearics under the leadership of Jaume Matas.
As president of the regional government, Matas gave a confident speech yesterday, making reference to his party as the much needed “driving force” behind radical change in a society “steeped in depression”, following four years under a Socialist coalition. Matas, who led the first day of government debates that will continue until Thursday, drew attention to the fact that in three months, the difference between his party's policies and those of its predecessor had become more than evident. Matas' party, he asserted, had dedicated itself wholeheartedly to restoring the confidence of the Islands' population and to rebuilding the battered economy. It was Matas' judgement that the previous Socialist coalition had been fatally flawed by the divisions between the individual parties that went to make up the “Progressive Pact”, together with a misguided environment policy. Matas believed that his Popular Party has had an advantage over the previous legislature because whenever the time came to make important decisions, the coalition leader “had to lose precious time” in consulting with a number of different groups in order to reach agreement. He insisted that his cabinet had got off to a much faster working pace in order to provide a “directional impetus” to policy change”.
Another of the Balearic leader's priorities had been to re-establish dialogue with industry's private sector, providing a forum for discussion on fundamental issues. This strategy, in his opinion, has promoted a “radical” change in the social climate. During the hour long speech, the Balearic leader summarised the plans of his government which aims to “secure prosperity for the region, a sustainable environment and a quality of life for citizens and visitors alike”. He wanted to see a “tolerant and open-minded” region, in which different identities, languages, ideologies, race or sex, could never violate individual rights or dangerously suppress some groups in favour of others. The recognition of both the Catalan and Castillian languages in the Balearics “has begun to liberate society from a linguistic bias that was beginning to become unbearable” claimed Matas. The previous Socialist government had wanted to promote Catalan over and above the national Spanish language, Castellano. Matas illustrated that “in the same way the Socialists justified everything in the name of the environment, in the same way, individual liberty was being threatened by insisting that Catalan be used where it was neither appropriate nor necessary”. Matas went on to speak about the tourist industry and claimed that “in record time” since coming to power, his party had put forward a plan to recover the sector's bruised image. “Within only three months, the situation has changed for the better. Talks with disillusioned major client markets are now positive, as opposed to negative; and attempts to blame the tourist market for all social and economic ills have been done away with. The Balearic president supported his party's decision to do away with the Tourist Tax. It had a negative influence on the economy as visitors were dissuaded from coming to the Islands, it was discriminatory and provided problems of collection, he asserted. Matas also spoke of the developments he had spearheaded in relation to securing a better power supply for the Islands. Long term plans were to connect the Balearics to the electricity network on the Peninsula by means of a power cable and a gas pipeline.


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