THERE are “hopeful” signs that the labour market and businesses in the Balearics are beginning to pick up, Balearic Economy and Tax Minister, Carles Manera, said yesterday. He claimed that “positive signs of recovery” may be seen from the second quarter of the year onwards, .

Speaking after a meeting of the Balearic Parliament yesterday, Manera said that it would be important to analyse any signs of economic growth over the next few weeks to see if they point to “positive growth.” It's too soon, he added, to say that such signs are clearly the green shoots of recovery.

To illustrate his point, Manera said that over the past few months and chiefly, throughout the first quarter of this year, the movement of merchandise through Balearic ports is “on the increase”. The arrival of higher volumes of sea freight is, according to Manera, an “unmistakable” sign of consumer growth.

Another “hopeful” sign, said Manera, is the fact that the Islands are definitely moving away from deflation. He explained that over a period of several months, there was a real danger of key pricing levels in the Spanish economy being dragged down. “It was the worst thing which could have happened to us,” Manera said. Now, however, prices are undergoing a year-on-year increase of 1 percent in the Balearics, he claimed.

Giving more credence to his predictions, Manera added that the property market in the region is starting to find its feet seen through the purchase of building materials, the granting of mortgages and the sale of property.

The Minister said that according to the Chamber of Commerce, business confidence is increasing with high expectations. This means, said Manera, that companies are seeing more opportunities for profitable investment.

Manera said that there were also promising signs in the tourist industry with airlines having rented out more “slots” - the access to take off and land - at Balearic airports. “More planes will conceivably bring more tourists,” said the Minister.

He reported also that during the first four months of this year, there have been no further job losses in the Balearics. Meanwhile, unemployment is running at 18 percent in the Islands, compared to a national average of 20 percent.