Spanish attitude does not change by our pouring money into the Campo
|New Year Message by JOE BOSSANO, Leader of the GSLP
As I predicted last year the global recession did not stop the growth in our economy. We have no information on 2009 but 2008 showed an increase in full time jobs of 749 and a drop of Gibraltarians in full time employment of 60. Non-Gibraltarians took all the extra jobs plus 60 previously held by Gibraltarians.
Regrettably, providing more jobs for outsiders, especially frontier workers, is something that this government is very proud of. Between 1988 and 1996 the frontier workers increased by 100, since 1996 the increase has been astronomical, 5,000.
The fact that so much money goes from our coffers into the Campo economy is certainly not having any effect on the attitude of the Spanish Government to Gibraltar, as seen in their recent attempts to deprive us of our territorial waters and the recent illegal entry of the Guardia Civil.
ILLEGAL ENTRY: Then and now
The 2009 illegal entry, you have been told, was different from that of 1989.
Then they landed at Eastern Beach, were arrested, charged with illegal entry, taken to Court, given bail at the request of their lawyer, jumped bail on instructions from the Spanish Government and had warrants issued for their arrests.
So there were important differences, but in one respect it was the same, they broke our laws and got away scot-free. Through the good offices of a Guardia Civil friendly lawyer in 1989, and a Guardia Civil friendly Chief Minister now, the one and the same person, Peter Caruana.
CONTRADICTORY POLICY VISIONS
As regards the economy, much of the present activity is in construction. Before 1996, this industry employing then, a large proportion of Gibraltarians, produced millions of pounds worth of new land and co-ownership homes, since sold to pay for the investments of the last 12 years.
The Eastside rubble mountain created by the visionless GSLP was relabelled, Sovereign Bay and sold for £30 million. A vision thing.
Another vision thing was the restoration of the Theatre Royal, which became an opera house that would rival La Scala di Milano. This particular vision is about to be demolished.
A third vision is the most expensive; under utilised, air terminal any community of 30,000 has ever had, originally predicted to become the biggest industry in Gibraltar.
These worrying visions Mr Caruana has been having, look more like highly expensive hallucinations.
On Social Insurance, his vision has been particularly contradictory.
In 2007 we said there had to be a fundamental restructure of the social insurance scheme, which is insolvent and incapable of guaranteeing the pensions of future generations. This results from the failure of the GSD Government to make adequate provision for the future.
In 1997 Mr Caruana falsely accused me of having inherited £55 million in social insurance reserves in 1988 and having reduced this to under £16 million. He promised that he would inject funding to restore the reserves. He has done the very opposite.
In 1988 the reserves reached £18 million. We increased them to £38 million. Since 1996 the reserves have shrunk every year. They are now below the level of 1988, let alone where we left them at in 1996.
The policy of increasing reserves, never honoured, was later abandoned and replaced by a “pay as you go” scheme. This means present workers are paying the cost of the current pensions, but who will pay the future pensions of these workers?
However in the case of Civil Service pensions, ” pay as you go “ is bad, and needs to be ended, otherwise it will be a millstone around the necks of our grandchildren.
Wherever you look, one policy vision, contradicts another.
Before 1996 £100m Gross Debt was also a millstone around our necks, now £400m is low.
Perhaps the answer is that you should not believe any explanation Mr Caruana gives since; he makes them up as self-serving arguments, to justify whatever he wants to do at a given point in time.
Now we have been told that there is to be a reform of the social insurance system. Before we pass judgement and decide whether we can support it we shall have to see what it entails.
However we totally reject the argument that has been used by Mr Caruana linking Community Care payments and the pension payments by the UK to pre-1969 Spanish pensioners.
There is no such link.
As he himself told the House of Commons Committee, Spanish pensioners were not claiming Community Care quarterly payments, but the unfreezing of their pensions.
After Spaniards received compensation for past frozen pensions, Mr Caruana told you that the deal had no effect on community care payments and that it lifted a big financial risk and uncertainty from the future. He now says the very opposite, that the payment by the United Kingdom was to settle the Spaniards claim based on their challenge to Community Care. Moreover, far from lifting the financial risk and uncertainty from the future, it now turns out to be a financial time bomb ticking under us.
Was he telling the truth then, or is he telling the truth now?
Our view in government and in opposition has been to defend the independence of Community Care as a private charity and reject any attempt to link it to the level of social insurance statutory pensions.
This is and will continue to be our position.
But enough of the past.
My message to you is about the future. The future belongs to our young people. They have been the victims at the receiving end of the competition for homes and jobs from the influx of outsiders of the last 14 years.
THIS has to change.
WE are committed to this change.
Providing jobs and homes for each new generation of Gibraltarians is what we stand for.
Our youth movement grew last year from 38 to 201. This year we want to double this number.
I call on all our young men and women, who share our values and have so much to contribute, to come forward, join the GSLY and help us beat our own targets.
Rose and I wish you all a happy and prosperous year ahead.