The battle over cheaper flights for Balearics residents is raging, fuelled by the clash between Balearic president Francesc Antich and Spain's deputy prime minister, Rodrigo Rato, at the Formentor Forum over the weekend. Rato said there is “nothing the islands need” with regards to extra domestic travel subsidies from central government. Antich, in Minorca to open a new sewage plant in Cala Galdana, called to Rato “to ask the Minorcans, Majorcans and the people of Ibiza and Formentera about what the region is lacking and just how much extra they are charged for domestic travel.” “We are not prepared to carry on paying the most expensive flights in Europe, neither are local businesses prepared to see their competitiveness continually clipped by the high costs they have to pay for being in the islands. “But as if this is not enough, they (central government) exclude us from the Energy Plan, reject our natural gas solution while out of the new six billion peseta Railway Plan passed by Madrid, the Balearics is set to receive nothing,” Antich said. He urged the Balearic PP opposition to start working in the best interests of the Balearics and back calls for Madrid to approve Spanish Balearics System (REB) which would give Palma much greater control over its finances. Antich added that Rato's comments make it quite clear that there is little desire to introduce the REB “but it is in the best interests of the Balearics and all the political parties should be lobbying Madrid.” The Partido Popular's new parliamentary spokesperson in the Balearics, Joan Flaquer, hit back last night saying that Rato's comments about the REB “have been misunderstood.” Flaquer said that the Balearic System has the support of the “Partido Popular at national and local level.” Flaquer said that Rato's opinion that the Balearics is sufficiently financed by Madrid and does not need the special finance system, “have been taken out of context.” Flaquer warned Antich that it is time to “stop playing the victim” and blaming Madrid for everything. Antich also criticised Environment Minister Jaume Matas for breaking his promises to the Balearics over the past three years, but he would not comment on whether he thinks Matas will stand against him at the May elections.

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