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BY the end of the first quarter of 2004, the Gross Balearic Product (PIB) will have grown by 1.3 percent, but more than half the homes in the region still have financial difficulty in seeing their way through to the “end of the month”. Confirming official figures yesterday, Antoni Riera, director of the Economic Research Centre (CRE) wouldn't be drawn however, on predicting economic growth figures for the whole of the year. Accurate estimates were difficult, he claimed, due to the lack of economic stability in the United States, Japan and Germany, and because of Spain's current problems in international export. According to the Research Centre, the Balearic economy grew by 1 percent in 2003, with a generally “uninspired” performance across the Islands, although Minorca shone favourably in the construction sector. Balearic tourism witnessed a 5.4 percent growth in the final 3 months of the year and the year-on-year growth figure reached 6.6 percent. The CRE attributed this progress to the recuperation begun in the summer months by German tourism. The positive trend was registered in spite of the slowing down in the number of British tourists to the Islands which only showed a 3.6 percent rise in the final three months of the year, against a national average of 6.8 percent. In total, international tourism on the Islands grew 4 percent in 2003, against a 0.3 percent national average. Nevertheless, the greatest upsurge came from the number of Spanish nationals visiting the Archipelago, which grew by 18.3 percent in the last quarter of the year over and above the same period in 2002. Meanwhile, 51.55 percent of Balearic homes have “either great, or a certain amount of difficulty” in making their finances stretch until month end.
According to a Family Budget Enquiry conducted for 2003 by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), this figure is less, however, than the national average of 56.1 percent. The Statistics Institute claim that 20.95 percent of Balearic households experience “a great deal of difficulty” in reaching the month end, while 25.83 percent confess to “difficulty” with finances as the month draws to a close, and 23.96 percent acknowledge “a certain difficulty”.