Education, health, social services and employment art the winners

The Balearic government yesterday unveiled the budget for 2003, its last before the May elections and the biggest budget in the history of the Balearics. The government intends to spend 1.796'6 million euros next year, some 726'8 million, 68 per cent, more than this year with education and health, the latter having this year been handed over to Balearic control, being the two big winners from the budget. Government spokesperson Antoni Garcia said yesterday that the budget will be put before parliament at the end of this month. Garcia said that apart from health and education, employment and social services will also come out of the budget as big winners as they are areas the government believes need extra funding and attention. The 2003 budget will also be the first to include and allow for tourist tax revenue which Garcia said will provide the government with an extra 42 million euros to spend, providing the constitutional tribunal in Madrid rules in favour of the tax and against central government. The local government has also managed to balance the books in accordance with Spanish budgetry requirements and will therefore not need to take the Balearics further into debt. One of the main aims of the coalition government next year is to “provide the public with a better quality of life” with special attention to be given to public transport and housing, in particular providing more opportunities to first time buyers. Garcia explained that the government's first budget after coming to power was “transitional”. 2001*s budget was used to repair the damage caused by the previous government and lay the foundations for new policy while the priorities of this year's budget have been social welfare and finally, the figures for next year are realistic, enabling the government to demonstrate what it has achieved.” The budget for next year is 122'4 million euros bigger than the present government's first budget and one out of every three euros will go to the Balearic health service, which will enjoy a 36.6 per cent share of the total budget. The Balearics has also taken over responsibility for the INEM unemployment office, hence 66'8 million euros will be ploughed into INEM and vocational training next year. Innovation and technology will, compared to three years ago, enjoy a 180 per cent increase in government funding. The budget also includes an extra 7.3 per cent for the development and improvement of energy in the Balearics and extra funding for the environment. Garcia said yesterday that the 2003 budget will enable the government to “improve the efficiency of the local administration in order to guarantee social welfare for all, which is what it set out to achieve three years ago when ot came to power.”

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