ON the second anniversary and the midway point of the current administration’s parliamentary term, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has made a ‘State of the Nation’ statement at the GSLP Annual general meeting.
Mr Picardo recognised that the impact of the UK’s unexpected decision to exit the EU in increasing the Government’s workload involving ‘countless meetings’ in London and Brussels but claims that these have not prevented milestone events being marked.
It is noted that despite his personal involvement in European affairs Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia commemorated both the Evacuation during WW2 and the Referendum of 1967 with concerts, exhibitions and other civic events.
Turning to financial achievements the Chief Minister said that during the consecutive terms of this administration growth has averaged nine per cent per year with “record breaking budget surpluses”.
He also praised the private sector for their positive contribution with particular reference to the “huge success” of the World Trade Center.
Mr Picardo said that the success of the Government's employment policy has meant that unemployment in Gibraltar stands at just 85. He further accepted that it is any government’s duty to make sure that whilst those who need extra support are cared for, those who could contribute and pay their fair way but choose not to are not allowed to get away with it.
An example cited was the collection of over £1 million of rent arrears to date that has allowed further spending in crucial areas of housing to improve living standards and modernise older estates.
He said the Dementia Residential Facility at Hillsides and the Bella Vista Dementia Day Care Facility had revolutionised the way that Gibraltar cares for and treats dementia patients.
He also referred to the implementation of landmark legislation to the Civil Marriage Amendment Act.
He went on: “Fairness, inclusivity, care, opportunity, transparency, investment in people. These are the principles the Government has adhered to over the past two years, and which will inform the next two years of the term of this administration.
“There is a great deal of work still to be done: a number of ambitious projects that have recently been announced will have changed Gibraltar for the better by the end of this Parliament. Not in the least, the new affordable housing estates will offer many Gibraltarian families a home for life, whilst a revolution in our schools will give our children the very best possible start in life.”
He added that the completion of two major projects the runway tunnel and LNG power station will have a significant positive impact on daily life and public health in Gibraltar as will the investment in eight new schools.
Mr Picardo announced that he is now in a position to take on responsibility for the control of drugs which he was previously prevented from doing with the challenges of Brexit.
He concluded: “Over the past two years Gibraltar has met its challenges with an outstanding economic performance, which has generated the resilience that in turn has allowed the implementation of ambitious policies that have changed both our physical landscape and our community for the better. That is what you elected us to do. That is what we will deliver.”