Central government came under fire again yesterday on its poor treatment of the Balearics and its negative attitude to the local government. Balearic Finance Minister, Joan Mesquida, told students at the Balearic University that it has been Madrid's “systematic blocking” of financial resources that forced the local government to set up the highly controversial tourist tax. However, despite the tax having been preliminarily approved by the Balearic parliament, the levy still has to find a way through the blockades in Madrid, which many believe is where the tourist tax will come unstuck. Mesquida yesterday explained to students that the tourist tax is the left wing local government's principal project and that had Madrid been more forthcoming with financial resources, there would be no need for the levy. Mesquida accused Prime Minister Aznar's government of being the “only government” to continually block environmental taxes, explaining that the Balearic government's solution is to raise an estimated 12'000 million pesetas a year from the tourist tax to cover the costs of protecting and maintaining the region's environment.

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