Balearic President Francesc Antich has demanded a meeting with Finance Minister, Rodrigo Rato, to discuss Madrid's decision to exclude the Balearics natural gas project from the National Grid Development budget for the next ten years. Antich has made it quite clear to Rato that the gas link to the mainland is vital for the future of the Balearic islands and will also allow for energy costs to be reduced. Antich said that there are “neither economic nor technical reasons” as to why the project should not be allowed to go ahead. The Majorcan Unionist party accused Madrid of “discriminating” the Balearics “this decision shows that Aznar does not care about the problems facing the Balearic population.” “Despite all the promises, we've been let down again,” the party, led by President of the Insular Council of Majorca, Maria Antonia Munar, said yesterday. However, Balearic opposition Partido Popular spokesperson, José María González Ortea, brushed aside claims that Madrid has excluded the Balearics and that the gas project will figure in the 2002-2011 budget. Ortea said that no final decision has been made over the gas link, adding that once it has, then the project will be included. “All that the Minister for Finance has done is raise a few doubts about the current model for the project, he's only looking after the best interests of the Balearics,” Ortea added.

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