By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE President of the Balearics Francesc Antich, yesterday proclaimed that finding solutions to the current economic crisis is far more important than winning the elections next year.

Socialist-led regional governments have come under heavy fire since the Socialist Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, suddenly unveiled a package of austerity measures which are going to primarily hit pensioners and civil servants.

The unions reacted by calling for a public sector strike with union bosses here in the Balearics urging the private sector to join the demonstrations converting the protest in to a general strike.

AT the end of last week, Antich called on central government to take some even bolder steps to cut the country's deficit and tax the wealthy - however many political analysts claim that Zapatero may have reacted too late and the opposition Partido Popular has criticised the PM for having ignored their calls for actions and suggestions over the past 18 months.

It appears that Zapatero's over night cuts, prompted by a call from the President of the United States warning the Prime Minster of Spain's precarious financial situation, have failed to ease the European Union's worries about Spain and further austerity measures can be expected.

Antich said yesterday that those who earn more, should be made to pay more and that more help needs to be provided to the poor and the unemployed.
The Balearic President said that he has ordered a complete review of government spending and, where possible, substantial cuts are going to be made.
Central government, including the PM and the opposition shadow cabinet have taken a pay cut of 15 percent and the local government is expected to follow suit.

Antich said that all “non priority expenditure and investment” will be frozen and there may be a further reduction in the number of quangos and public companies. “With over 80'000 unemployed in the Balearics, we need concrete action to be taken,” Antich stressed yesterday.
Today, however, Antich is going to have to explain to Balearic MPs exactly how Zapatero's cuts are going to affect the Balearics.
The opposition Partido Popular is not convinced that the cuts are going to make any real difference.
The President of the PP in the Balearics, Jose Ramon Bauza, described them as “symbolic” over the weekend.