Massive 'lump sum' on offer to Spanish pensioners only says Bossano
|"In 2003 I predicted we would have an early General Election.
Before it took place you were told how well everything was and promised all sorts of things including more government rented houses. This promise resurfaced, out of the blue, in the recent Referendum campaign.
In 2004 after the election we all discovered that there was a Budget deficit and the GSD went on to increase water,electricity and all sort of fees, which they had, conveniently, forgotten to mention during the election.
The democratic process is about giving the people, a choice of alternative policies in electing a government. This year our Manifesto will provide that choice.
For example, for the GSD our decolonization is over and done with and we can all take a one day holiday this month to celebrate it.
Their view is that modernization is de facto decolonization, a concept no one else subscribes to.
The correct position under International Law is clear.
The legal framework that we invoke to claim Gibraltar's right to self-determination is that of the UN and this requires that the realization of our self-determination must result in a change to our international status.
It is totally misleading to argue, as Mr Caruana now does, that this issue is a meaningless distinction between form and content.
If he really believed that, one would need to ask what he got his QC for!
Our decolonisation is still unfinished business and we are committed to pursue this goal under the 2006 Constitution as we were under the 1969 one.
Spain has no doubt about the position and has continued to make it abundantly clear, to UK and the UN.
The Spanish dimension has been there all the time, in the background of the constitutional negotiations. That is why they welcomed the result last March.
Spain's condition, which has been met, was that our international status should remain unchanged.
The new constitution should merely modernise our internal structures, as is happening in other British territories.
Another policy difference between us, is on the Cordoba deals. We do not agree with those changes at the Airport Terminal due to happen in 2008. Nor would we, as your Government, provide a public building for the Cervantes Institute.
And, as I highlighted last year, before the deal was done, there has to be equal treatment for our pensioners in any settlement of the Spanish claim for revalued pensions.
UK started paying these pensions in 1986. In 1987 and 1988 the UK increased Spanish pensions as provided for in our law. However in 1989 they refused to pay any further increases and insisted that to avoid discrimination all other pensions had to be frozen at the 1988 rate.
Now they have publicly admitted that what they did was wrong. To put right what was wrong the UK has written to the Spanish pensioners offering them an increase of 65.2%.
There is therefore now a legal obligation to pay the same 65.2% increase to all other pensioners.
This is a legal right. It has nothing to do with the state of Government finances or the generosity of the GSD before an election.
However, the Spanish pensioners are being offered on top of this 65.2% increase a massive amount of money if they agree to be paid in Spain by the UK government. That is to say after April the Crown Agents would transfer the money directly to each pensioner, instead of paying through the Gibraltar Social Insurance Fund, as has been happening since 1986. Each pensioner that accepts this, will be given a lump sum compensation, which is estimated to cover the value of all the increases that they should have had in the last 18 years. This will amount to millions of pounds. In the case of a married pensioner couple with a frozen pension of ?71.70 a week since 1988, it could amount to as much as ?28,000.
The UK government appears to think that by putting the offer to Spanish pensioners on these terms it can avoid giving equal treatment to other pensioners adversely affected by their decision of 1988.
We believe this is discrimination under EU Law and we have made our position clear to UK.
None of this affects, or is affected by, Community Care, which is not a relevant factor.
This year's election will give you the opportunity that has been denied to you so far, to vote on the content of the Cordoba Understandings.
THE PRICE YOU PAY
Because we do not agree with everything that has been decided during the secret trilateral negotiations and we have made clear which elements are not acceptable to us, we are described by Mr Caruana as dishonest and disreputable people. This is a sad reflection on the measure of the man.
That is the price you pay in Gibraltar today.
Either you agree with him 100% on everything from the Constitution to discrimination against our own pensioners or you get vilified, insulted and targeted.
This year you will have an opportunity to change that as well.
Every year since 1996 the number of jobs taken up by outsiders has increased. The GSD thinks this is a good thing.
We want our university graduates to come back, settle here and have a secure future ahead of them. For those who leave school to look for work and for those who find themselves squeezed out of the Private Sector by competition from Spain, we shall provide a guarantee of training followed by a job.
We also ask you to support our policies, for the sake of those young people now being forced to leave Gibraltar or to become cross-frontier workers in their homeland whilst outsiders take over.
The future belongs to these younger Gibraltarians, who need to live and work here if they are to grow to love and defend their homeland from Spain's ambitions and Foreign Office weakness, as our generation has done.
The GSLP throughout its 30 year history has had as a corner stone of its policy that this land belongs to the Gibraltarians and no one else, and that it should remain under our control and be developed for our benefit. To achieve these objectives we need your support and participation, in the work that needs to be done between now and the elections.
Thank you for listening and may you have a very happy and prosperous 2007."