THE opposition parties in the Balearic Islands, the Partido Popular (PP) and the Majorcan Unionists (UM) have rejected proposals by the regional President, Francesc Antich, to raise taxes as a means of contributing to bringing down the national deficit.

PP leader Jose Ramon Bauza and UM chief, Josep Melia, were speaking yesterday after holding meetings at the Consolat de Mar government building in Palma yewith President Francesc Antich and regional Tax and Finance Minister, Carles Manera who had put forward his savings plans.

Bauza, who had spent just over an hour speaking with Antich, called on the President to reduce public spending by cutting the number of ministries in his government. Bauza had claimed that raising taxes will simply result in a downturn in consumer spending and this in turn will accentuate the economic crisis.

The PP leader, who had attended his meeting with the Balearic President accompanied by the Partido Popular Parliamentary spokesman, Francesc Fiol, said that Antich had failed to make the more effective decision of “streamlining” his administration. Bauza claimed that simply reducing the number of public companies on the government payroll “leaves a great deal to be desired.” Bauza had apparently refused to be drawn on details of cuts in the number of public companies which were being proposed by Antich or on the salary reduction of civil servants, but he insisted on the fact that what the Balearics needs to do is to reduce the level of costly ministries. He stopped short of saying which departments needed “to go.” “We need to have a productive, not a subsidiary economy,” claimed Bauza, saying that he trusted that President Antich will not get carried away with pressure from Central Government and raise taxes. “If the President were to put up taxes, it would be totally counterproductive to finding a solution to the economic crisis,” said Bauza.

Meanwhile UM leader Josep Melia had actually supported measures which the Balearic coalition government were proposing to reduce regional public spending by 100 million euros, but like Bauza, he said that raising taxes was “not the answer.” He claimed that if Antich's coalition were to present tax increase proposals to the Balearic Parliament, it would lack the number of votes to make them law.

Melia said however, he was in agreement with higher taxes for industry which polluted the environment as that would not have an affect on society at large.