By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
BALEARIC president Francesc Antich appears to have finally forced central government in to recognising that the Balearics is one of the most under funded regions in Spain. But, Antich admitted yesterday that persuading Madrid to plug the gap is going to involve a series of “long, tense and tough” negotiations.

However, the president yesterday returned from talks with the Spanish Prime Minster Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in Madrid over improved public funding for the Balearics with good news with regards to Majorca's rail expansion programme.

Central government has pledged to invest 666 million euros into the project and that funding, according to Antich, should be forthcoming “shortly.” As soon as Madrid signs on the dotted line of Majorca's new rail transport development project, work will start on extending the railway lines to Alcudia and Arta in the north east of the island, laying the link between Inca and Enllaç and the ambitious plan to running a tram from the centre of Palma along the coast to the airport and the Playa de Palma. But, while Antich said that negotiations over the rail transport project are in their “final phase”, talks over securing better and fairer funding for the Balearics are going to take time. But, half of Spain's autonomous regions governed by the Socialists, have agreed that the Balearics's complaint over poor and inadequate funding is fair and that Madrid should respond to Antich's demands.

As reported, the main bone of contention between Palma and Madrid is that central government makes its budgetary calculations based on the Balearics's permanent population and fails to take in to account for the floating population and the millions of visitors who flock to the islands every year.

The summer surge in the population is a huge drain on public funding.