Palma.—Bauza was adamant yesterday that he is not going to allow central government in Madrid to play around with the region's 50 percent travel discount for residents. “This is an untouchable right to which all Balearic residents are entitled to,” Bauza said as the local opposition parties stepped up the pressure on him to go to Madrid and thrash the problem out face to face with the Minister for Public Works, Ana Pastor.

She apparently said over the weekend that she has no intention of fiddling with the Balearic travel discounts but few people believe her.
Last week it was not only revealed that central government was considering scrapping the current discount programme and replace it with set discounts, it also came to light that the Balearic government had known about Madrid's intentions since last October.

However, now the secret is out, the Balearic government has been forced to respond to the demands of the public and defend resisdents' rights.
The authorities in the Canaries and the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have also expressed their outrage over the threat of having their travel discounts reduced and remodeled as well.

Air and sea connections are vital for Balearics business and local captains of industry said yesterday that the government is holding the islands to ransom and is threatening to isolate the islands' business and commerce even more.

Bauza did admit yesterday that the final say lies with central government but gave his word to defend the rights of the travelling public in the Balearics.

This year, central government has set aside 269 million euros to cover the air discounts and 45.5 million euros to cover maritime discounts.
As it battles to reduce its deficit and balance the books, Madrid consider slashing the discounts a possible vehicle to saving more public funds but few people in the Balearics see it that way.


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