STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
BALEARIC President Francesc Antich said yesterday that his Finance Minister is working closely with other departments to fine-tune details of the Islands' contribution to cutting the national deficit.

Antich, speaking after a Senate General Committee meeting in Madrid, said that acting on Central government instructions, austerity measures will be put in place “as soon as possible” but added that he felt confident that he would get all-party backing for the outcome.

The President said however, that the National Government's ruling on reducing the country's debt - published yesterday in the State Bulletin - does not include doing away with regional spending plans and investment that have already been agreed.

Antich described this as “good news” because the Balearic Islands will still get what it needs in terms of investment arranged prior to the austerity measures coming into play.

The President said that his ruling team is looking at the different mechanisms being used by Central Government to reduce the deficit and that his task is now to examine the options and set a list of priorities. He explained that Balearic government inter-departmental meetings will need to eke out lower priority projects and spending in order to meet the cuts being demanded by Central Government. Once our proposals are in place, said Antich, we will present them to the public.

Asked about the cuts which are being made at a national level within the different Central Government ministries, Antich said he had “no news” about them at the moment or how they might affect funding already earmarked for the Balearic Islands.

He added, though, that the national Ministry for Public Works had been in touch with its counterparts in regional government to arrange talks.
Antich said that as far as he was aware, the Ministry was going ahead with its plans to restructure regional airport management, a policy from which the Balearics would benefit greatly.

Antich also said that in the case of spending on issues related to the environment, Central Government Minister Elena Espinosa had reportedly told Gabriel Vicens, the Balearic regional Minister, that “everything, in principle, will remain the same.”