The Balearic governmment, along with the other socialist-ruled regional authorities across Spain, are refusing to introduce a controversial tax on fuel which could see the price of a litre increasing by four pesetas. Now, this move may appear to be a real vote winner for the socialists because no motorists would support any increase in fuel costs. But the money raised from this additional surcharge was to be used to help finance the cash-starved national health service in every province. Basically, with the large number of cars in the Balearics the tax would have raised a small fortune which would then be ploughed back into hospitals. Francesc Antich, leader of the Balearic government, had little option but to oppose the tax because the decision was taken by the socialist party at a national-level and he had no option but to toe the official line. But it is still a curious decision because the local government are always pleading poverty and also are rather anti-car. It could be argued that with an increase in fuel there would be fewer cars on the road and more people would turn to public transport. This is the Balearic government's transport policy in a nut-shell, less cars and more trains and buses. There is plenty of scope for an increase in fuel prices because Spain has some of the lowest petrol prices in the European Union. A tax on fuel is a better idea than the local government's famed tourist tax and would probably raise more money and help save the environment at the same time. You can also imagine what the Madrid government's response will be the next time the local government asks for more funding for the health service. All in all a curious decision and one which could damage the Balearics.

Jason Moore

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