THE Balearic government, led by regional president Jaume Matas, is not intending to use tonight's dinner in Palma for Spain's prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as a social event, but to call for greater central government support and help the Balearics. Balearic Tourism minister and government spokesman, Joan Flaquer, confirmed yesterday that Jaume Matas is going to attend the occasion determined to “resolve those questions which are on the regional agenda and which are currently causing conflict with Madrid”. Flaquer said he was confident that the meeting will be a focal point for coming to an agreement on the issue of subsidised inter-island flights for Balearic residents, as well as that of highway construction on Majorca, signed by both regional and central government during the period of office of Zapatero's predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar. Flaquer went on to describe the creation of four public companies who would have responsibility for managing Youth policy, aiming to “improve the service” in this area which is currently funded by local government. Flaquer added that the Island Councils would be given authority to act on this strategy in 2007. With these statements, Flaquer was responding to criticisms launched at the ruling government party in the Balearics by the president of the Council of Minorca, Joana Barcelo, in conjunction with other Opposition groups. The minister, who warded off their attack into the field of “political debate”, said that the regional government is on track to decentralise power emphasising that the individual Island Council will be able to have control over what happens in these public companies as soon as they (the Councils) are given control of Youth policy. He denied that the creation of these new organisations would prejudice political standing in Minorca, as he pointed out that the policy would be applied to all the Islands and challenged Barceló to come forward with any evidence she might have that the Balearic government intended to set up such companies using its “chosen” personnel. Flaquer finally appealed for a more responsible approach to the issue.

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