STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
BALEARIC President Francesc Antich has asked Central Government that as part of its measures to rein in the national deficit, the wealthiest in the land should be those who have their taxes increased the most.

Antich said that in order to adhere to the government's austerity measures and put the country back on track to economic recovery, all members of society should contribute to the national effort. Whilst it has already been announced that there will be cuts in the pay of civil servants and the benefits of pensioners, Antich said that financial sacrifices must be made “across the board”, and that “those who have most, should pay most.” Within the next few days, President Antich is expecting to receive details of the austerity measures announced this week by Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Antich said that he intends to study them one by one and add any suggestions of his own, such as raising taxes on the wealthy in the Balearics. “It is the middle classes and the most vulnerable sectors of society which have been hardest hit by the financial crisis,” claimed Antich. Because of this, he said, he hoped that Central Government would see fit to insist on a contribution from the highly paid because “the battle to cut the national deficit must be made by all of us, not just some,” Antich said.

Earlier this week, Antich had taken part in a meeting that Zapatero had called with other Socialist regional leaders. The Balearic President had taken this opportunity to set out his proposal for hiking taxes on the wealthy to a greater degree than on the less well paid. He pointed out to his colleagues at the meeting that for 8 years, the Balearics had not had adequate financing to cope with the pressures straining its infrastructure prompted by a massive increase in population. The disadvantage, however, said Antich, has now “been corrected” by the present government.

Antich also seized the moment to say that since the start of the recession, his government had made every effort to subsidise those who were worst affected such as young people who were unable to find jobs, those with physical disabilities and family companies whose businesses were in jeopardy. The Balearic President said that his team is doing “everything it can” to ensure that funding for “basic services” such as health and education remain intact and gave assurances that “in principle” the Balearic road building programme is going ahead and that projects “which have already started will be finished.” Referring to recent talks between Central Government and the Balearics, Antich claimed that funding for special projects in the Islands will not be affected either. “We've got several major building programmes on the boil at the moment,” he said “worth about 500 million euros.” It is through such schemes, said Antich, that the economy will be kickstarted and once more become the driving force that will create jobs.”