By Humphrey Carter BALEARIC leader Jaume Matas opened the parliamentary debate on the state of the Balearics yesterday by proclaiming that, after three years of Partido Popular (PP) government, the region has finally dragged itself out of economic crisis, with falling unemployment and a tourist industry which is booming again. “Our objective since we (the centre right Partido Popular) returned to power three years ago was to revive the economy and tourism, improve education, health and transport and care for the environment. “We have complied with our main priorities. This year economic growth is forecast to be around 2.7 per cent,” he added. Matas said that the proof the economy is back on track is the reduction in unemployment from nearly 10 percent three years ago, to the present rate of 6.7 percent. He also said that his government has managed to restore tourism to the driving force of the economy instead to construction. The Balearics has more special-needs children in school than anywhere else in Spain but the region also has one of the highest school failure rates and Matas said that some 670 million euros is being pumped into education. On the health service, he said that “patients have been made the priority” and, as a result, waiting lists for operations have been slashed by 23 per cent while new hospitals and medical facilities are being built, giving the patient more choice. Transport is also where Matas maintains his government have put the people first. He hailed the ambitious road expansion plan underway in the Balearics, in particular Majorca and Ibiza, and the rail and metro projects which are nearing completion. However, Matas sparked controversy yesterday by announcing his intention to suggest central government changes the way it regulates inter-island flights so that prices can be fixed at 27.5 euros (plus taxes) as opposed to the present base fare of 82 euros. Matas unveiled that he will be also calling for a 12.5 percent increase in flights between the islands and that the schedules operate all year. Central government representative to the Balearics, Ramon Socias, criticised Matas for meddling in central government affairs over the flights and that, across the board, the Balearics receives sufficient funds from Madrid, “considering it is one of the wealthiest in Spain.”