Government 'surprised' by finance centre classification
The Gibraltar government says it is 'surprised' by the classification of Gibraltar's finance centre as Group 2 in a recent report from the Financial Stability Forum in Basle, Switzerland. It is of the view that Gibraltar should have been placed in Group 1, along with other European Union finance centres and the Channel islands and Isle of Man.
By its own admission the FSF process is subjective and impressionistic, says the government, adding that it believes the process is fundamentally flawed and fails to meet the principle of natural justice.
"The government would welcome a formal assessment of Gibraltar and is confident that the Gibraltar finance centre will be recognised as having the highest international standards," said a statement today. (02 June 00)
Governor considers reports about Chief Justice
The Governor of Gibraltar, David Durie, referred today to recent Press reports concerning the conditions surrounding the employment by the Chief Justice of a domestic employee, Ms Danvers.
A statement by Mr Durie adds: "It is important that the issue should not be allowed to bring the administration of justice into disrepute."
With a view to making his own assessment of the matter "I have asked the Chief Justice to let me have all relevant information relating to the circumstances surrounding the employment of Ms Danvers."
The Governor says that he will make a further statement "when I have been able to assess the information."
There have been allegations about delayed payments. By the Chief Justice, Derek Schofield, concerning his housekeeper Hermina Danvers.
When it became known that such matters might be published, Ms Danvers - who is now in her native Jamaica - sent a fax to the media concerned: "I have been advised that your newspapers plan to publish an article in respect of my employment contract with Mr & Mrs Derek Schofield in Gibraltar. As I have not had any dialogue with any members of your staff in respect of the proposed articles, I am requesting that you do not publish same. The matter is being dealt with by the Ombudsman/Employment Board and the Schofields have given me their assurance of resolving the issues fairly and in the proper manner."
Subsequently, as reported exclusively in PANORAMA, Mrs Schofield said she had been dragged into it: "I am going to fight for what I think is an unfairness, and they can't shut me up."
She spoke of a campaign "to try and discredit my husband...They are trying to hound him out of office."
The Chief Justice and Mrs Schofield have called the police to investigate if their house is the subject of telephone tapping. They also claim to have received harassing calls and have asked for the security of their home to be upgraded. (01 June 00).
Today's Gibraltar Budget Measures
In the Gibraltar House of Assembly today, the chief minister Peter Caruana announced budget measures, as follows:
OLD AGED PERSONS: Men 65 and over and women aged 60 and over with incomes less than 7600 pounds will be exempt of tax.
PERSONAL ALLOWANCES: Single person up by 50 pounds; married couples, 85 pounds; child allowance 20 pounds. All other allowances up by 2%.
CHILD ALLOWANCE: will not be lost if child has temporary employment income while in full time education; child allowance (740 pounds) will be paid in respect of a child at school in Gibraltar in addition to children studying abroad allowance (1st child, 810 pounds, second child 650 pounds)
MEDICAL INDURANCE: Medical and health insurance premiums paid in respect of taxpayers, spouse and/or dependent children will enjoy tax relief up to 300 pounds p.a. If paid by the employer they will not be taxed as a benefit in kind, up to that amount.
PRIVATE ESTATE MANAGEMENT COMPANIES: Investment income from accumulated service charge funds will be exempted from tax.
MATERNITY GRANT: 350 pounds for couples on joint income less than 30,000 pounds (up from 36 pounds) with effect from 10 February 2000. In the case of joint incomes between 30,000 pounds and 40,000 pounds the grant reduces by 35 pounds per 1000 pounds of joint income in excess of 30,000 pounds.
DEATH GRANT: 350 pounds (up from 72 pounds) with effect from deaths occuring on or after 10 February 2000.
ELDERLY PERSONS MINIMUM INCOME: As of 1 Sept 2000, Social Assistance will be available to ensure that every old age pensioner household can enjoy an income of at least 75% of the new statutory minimum wage, ie. 110 pounds per week for a married couple; 85 pounds per week for a single person, after taking account of their income or potential income from all other sources.
STATUTORY MINIMUM WAGE: Government will legislate, this year, to establish a new statutory minimum wage of 3.75 pounds per hour, regardless of whether paid weekly or monthly, up from 3.26 pounds.
SOCIAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS, with effect from 1.1.2001, will be payable in cash (not stamps) and will be unified with PAYE system.
IMPORT DUTY reduced from 12% to 6% on fabrics, haberdashery and shoes.
COMMERCIAL GOODS VEHICLES, seven month opportunity, ending 31 December 2000, to import such vehicles, free of import duty. (31.05.00)
Forces Open Day
British Forces Gibraltar will hold an open day on Saturday 3 June, with a guided tour of the warship HMS Liverpool as one of the attractions. Tornado aircraft will make a flypast. There will also be a beach landing by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.
There will be a parade through town by the Rooke volunteer band and the Gibraltar field gun team. "This will be followed by an action packed show featuring all aspects of life in the armed services in Gibraltar," said a spokesman.
Fundraising on the day will be for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and families association as well as other charities. (31.05.00)
State-of-the-art Firefighting system
The Commander British Forces will officially switch on the pumps for the dockyard's new state-of-the-art ship's fiorefighting system tomorrow. The investment has been two million pounds "and places Gibraltar at the forefront of jetty protection fire fighting capability," said a military spokesman today. (31.05.00)
Don't Kill the Sharks!
The Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society says it condemns the holding of a shark angling festival here because it is planned to land and kill the sharks in whatever number they are captured.
A statement adds: "This type of shark fishing is totally unacceptable."
It goes on to state that the landing and killing of sharks for sport is a thing of the past globally.
The society says it finds it rather surprising that having had two successfull competitions in Gibraltar previously on a tag and release basis, the organisers should take this retrograde step which is contrary to modern conservation and sports fishing protocols.
They add: At a time when Gibraltar is trying to enhance its conservation image, such an event gives Gibraltar a bad name internationally. (31.05.00)
Opposition concern about Gibraltar lagging in
Finance Centre EU list
The report by the Financial Stability Forum recently published follows a survey of 37 offshore finance centres. It places all the finance centres in the European Union except Gibraltar in the first group, says the opposition.
"The fact that Gibraltar is deemed to have failed to meet their standards is in flat contradiction with the claims often made that we are the best regulated finance centre in the EU and that we are considered a model for standards that have yet to be met by the Crown Dependencies Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, all of which are included in Group One whereas Gibraltar has been relegated to group two," said a statement today.
Trade, Industry and Tourism spokesman Dr Joseph Garcia said: "This evaluation should not go unchallenged. It is unacceptable that after Gibraltar has implemented all EU requirements, has placed control of financial services supervision in United Kingdom hands, has introduced UK equivalent standards where these are higher than the EU, we should be told that there is substantial room for improvement in our case but not in the case of competing British jurisdictions like Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man who are not even full members of the EU single market for financial services." (31.05.00)
Police asked to investigate TELEPHONE TAPPING CLAIM AT HOME OF CHIEF JUSTICE
The Chief Justice Derek Schofield and Mrs Schofield have asked the police to investigate suspicions of telephone tapping at their home. They have also received harassing telephone calls and have asked that the security of their home be upgraded, Mrs Schofield told PANORAMA.
"We made our initial report last October and nothing was done," she said. This was at the time of the crisis that developed in the wake of the stand taken by the Chief Justice on the independence of the judiciary.
When we asked the Royal Gibraltar Police last week to confirm the concern about telephone tapping, and if there had been a request to increase the security of the home of the Schofields, the reply was "the RGP does not comment on matters of personal security."
However, PANORAMA can disclose that only last month the police were again called. Inspector Mifsud of Special Branch went up to the house to take a statement from Mr Justice Schofield and Mrs Schofield.
The Head of Special Branch was asked: Could you please check for us if our telephone system is safe?
The story hits the headlines following the allegations about late payments by the Chief Justice in respect of their housekeeper, who has been back in her native Jamaica for about a month.
Mrs Schofield feels herself dragged into all this. While the Chief Justice might be constraint in what he can say in public because of his position, his wife clearly does not think such considerations apply to her. "I am not the Chief Justice and I am going to fight for what I think is an unfairness, and they can't shut me up, I don't want to be shut up," she told PANORAMA.
She added: "They have dragged me into the fight, I'm now fighting for myself...I have reached a point where I feel we are being harassed so much...they have brought the fight into my house...this is affecting our family life... They are trying to discredit my husband..They are trying to hound him out of office."
Mrs Schofield, herself a barrister, said she wanted to make it clear she does not work for the Gibraltar Government or Hassan's, "they have briefed me in my area of expertise to look up some work for them, not including any particular cases, it is similar to what I do for the Government. I carry out that work from London and not from Gibraltar."
Commons question on Gib arms dealer
In a debate in the House of Commons about arms for Sierra Leone contrary to UN requirements, the question was asked:
“May I ask first about the supply of arms to the rebels? There was a report in The Independent on 16 May about arms being supplied to the RUF from the Ukrainian Government but via a Gibraltar base arms trader and a British airline. Has the British Government investigated those allegations as far as they relate to the British airline and the actions we are taking to make sure that British companies do not in future collude in breaking the UN arms embargo?”
Mr Hain: I think you are referring to Air Foyle, which did, a year or so ago, early 1999, apparently fly in the arms from the Ukraine. When we investigated it, and we immediately took the matter up and referred it to the United Nations Sanctions Committee because we saw a possible breach there, the fact that it was a British company did not deter us from doing that, they claimed that they were only taking it so far; they did not realise it was going on to the RUF. Make of that what you will, but we did take immediate action. It went from the Ukraine to Burkina Faso in 1999 and then they were subsequently forwarded via Liberia to the rebels in Sierra Leone but not, as far as we could determine, in Air Foyle planes.”
Have the Gibraltar Government acted on the arms trader who was also involved?
Mr Hain: “We have actually discussed the matter with the Gibraltar Government. I am happy to repeat now that any Briton or any British company, any British group which is involved or could be involved in open breach of United Nations sanctions, will have us coming down on them like a ton of bricks.”
Gibraltar Shipping Special
Encouraged by last year’s successful report, PANORAMA will publish in August a full colour, glossy Gibraltar Shipping Supplement which will be published also in:
(a) HONG KONG SHIPPING NEWS INTERNATIONAL, HK edition, read by the Special Administrative Region of China’s Key shipowning and managing community.
(b) THE SINGAPORE SHIPPING TIMES, the only shipping daily in Singapore, with a readership of over 40,000 throughout South-east Asia, and
(c) PANORAMA’s internet edition, “Gibraltar’s Online Daily Newspaper”, throughout the year. The site is at present attracting an average of between 4,000 and 5,000 ‘hits’ per day from over 40 countries.
Free copies of the PANORAMA printed edition will go to advertisers and to the Gibraltar Government for offices abroad.
The Government plans to make the supplement available to visitors at the prestigious Genoa Cruise and Ferry Convention.
Additional copies will be distributed to shipowners organisations in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Shipping News International will also distribute the supplement at several important shipping events including the International Shipping Federation Manning and Training Conference in September and the Shiprepair and Conversion Exhibition at London’s Olympia in November.
Simultaneous publication by Singapore Shipping Times will ensure further impact in the all-important Asian market.
The supplement will be in PANORAMA’s popular website for a whole year, with the addition of shipping news updates as required throughout the year.
The PANORAMA supplement is being supported by the Government. (30.05.00)
Euro Liberal Leaders Meeting for Gibraltar
The LYMEC Leader’s meeting, bringing together the Presidents and Leaders of Liberal youth movements from all over Europe will take place in Gibraltar in 2001. This conference was obtained for Gibraltar by Liberal Party Executive Member Rebecca Faller who is now back on the Rock from the European Parliament where she attended her first official bureau meeting in her capacity as Vice President of LYMEC the Liberal Youth Movement of the European Union.
The intensive weekend session was held in the European Liberal Party (ELDR) headquarters in the European Parliament. The five member bureau took this opportunity to plan the party events for the coming year and discuss new political issues and topics for forthcoming seminars.
As Vice president Ms Faller deals primarily with the political side if the organisation and was asked to prepare a paper on a topic of her choosing which can be used as a basis for a resolution or seminar. She decided to focus on Immigration and rights of third party nationals in the EU.
“It is so encouraging to be working as part of a political group in the European parliament as a Gibraltar delegate totally separate from the UK and I plan to make full use of my two year position to gain whatever benefits possible for Gibraltar,” she said.
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