Palma/Las Palmas.—Central Government's Ministry for Industry and Tourism José Manuel Soria said yesterday government will guarantee to keep the 50 percent discount for Balearic European Union residents on the cost of inter-island air tickets and connections with the mainland.

Speaking prior to an event in Las Palmas, the capital of the Canary Islands' Gran Canaria, Soria said that the Minister of Public Works had specifically said to him that the 50 percent discount would remain for all EU residents of the Canary Islands, the Balearics and the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.

Soria said that the discount is not a privilege given to some regions as opposed to others, but a subsidy which reflects the communication needs of provinces at a distance from the mainland.

Unconvinced
Despite the Minister's reassurances, Socialists in the Balearic were saying yesterday that the incisive cuts announced by the Partido Popular (PP) Central Government in their annual Budget yesterday will unfairly prejudice the economic future of the Islands.

Pablo Martin, Balearic Socialist MP in Congress, has now called on regional (PP) President José Ramón Bauzà to “stop acting like a spokesman for Central Government and start fighting for the interests of the Balearic Islands.” Martin said that with 65 million euros wiped from the transport subsidies previously enjoyed by residents in regions located at a distance from the mainland, a downturn of nearly 16%, it is impossible that the Balearics remain unaffected. “These sweeping cuts in one way or another will have to affect resident discounts, airport tax subsidies and freight transport,” he argued.

Martin said that the Central Government Budget for 2012 will prove similarly inadequate for creating jobs and stimulating economic growth. “The Balearics is due to become a second class region of the country,” he warned. “Just when the Balearics was beginning to see its way through to the end of the tunnel of the economic crisis, we now get hammered with a Central Government budget which is going to mean serious setbacks for working people.”

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