STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE current Socialist Balearic government claimed yesterday that the 16 highway projects undertaken by its predecessors, the Partido Popular cost some 30.4 million euros more than originally forecast.

According to the regional ministry for Housing and Public Works, final spending on major road building programmes across the Islands, stood at 519'716 million euros.

The amount to which the ultimate costs veered away from the original estimates for projects on Majorca amounted to 28'539 million - the budgeted figure had been 294'777 million euros. Major projects on the Island included the Inca to Sa Pobla motorway extension (6.45 million euros); and Palmanova to Peguera (5.9 million euros.) In the case of Minorca, the excess stood at 1.9 million for the south Ciutadella bypass.

The construction operations were largely run by established engineering firms from the mainland of Spain which formed temporary joint ventures with smaller Balearic companies or alternatively used them as their subcontractors. The Association of Balearic Construction companies reported that the maximum participation of regional firms in infrastructure projects as a whole - not just the road building programme - which were initiated during the time of the previous government stood at 40 percent. The large construction companies from the mainland were able to undertake major building schemes for lower prices than their Balearic counterparts.

The association pointed out that contrary to popular belief, the most expensive projects of the term of office of the Partido Popular were not the motorways but the hospitals which globally notched up a price tag of 762.2 million euros. Of this sum, the vast majority went to funding the hotly debated hospital at Son Espases at the site of the Son Real Monastery, recently given the final green light by current Balearic President Francesc Antich.

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