FRANCESC Antich, former Balearic leader and now deputy elect to Congress for the Spanish Socialist Workers party (PSOE), discounted the possibility yesterday that the new Socialist government would reintroduce the highly unpopular tourist tax throughout Spain. Antich, speaking almost a week after the Socialists won Spain's general election, claimed that the tax, officially known as the “Ecotax” which his coalition government had introduced in the Balearics, and was repealed by the Partido Popular in October last year, was not part of the Socialist electoral programme. Antich, who is also secretary general of the PSOE in the Balearics, added, however, that while the electoral programme of the PSOE didn't include the mention of a tourist tax, it did not rule out alternative taxes to finance conservation projects. The deputy was speaking shortly after a meeting with senior Socialist figures and spokesmen on the Island at a restaurant in the area of Campos, to thank them for their efforts during the election campaign and to highlight the need for the party to act with “responsibility” and “humility” following the election victory of 14 March. With regard to the creation of a new ministry, for industry, commerce and tourism, already announced by the next Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Antich said that “the more importance that is given to tourism, the better for the Balearic Islands” where 80 percent of people live directly or indirectly from this sector. After commenting that Balearic tourism creates a quarter of all wealth claimed by the Spanish state in this industry, Antich rejected the notion that the creation of the new ministry increased his possibilities of forming part of the new government. He added that he and his fellow socialist deputies were going to work for the Balearics, “together with a government which has said that it wants to govern for everyone and which has, moreover, made it clear that it will give special attention to the Balearics.” Antich also said that, because the new ministry would be beneficial for the islands, the Balearic PSOE would work towards making tourism “one of the major concerns of the government.” On Friday, Joan Flaquer, spokesman of the conservative Balearic government, had expressed his confidence on being able to count on Antich's “influence” with Zapatero to further the cause of the islands, whether or not he holds a Cabinet post. Commenting on this, Antich said it was “positive that this predisposition towards dialogue should exist,” as confrontation always went against the interests of the people. The tourist tax introduced by Antich's coalition government alienated the hoteliers and gave the Balearics a bad press abroad. The money raised was spent on environmental projects including the purchase and refurbishment of historical old buildings.