Chief Minister meets President Obama during Washington visit

CM with Nancy Pelosi in WashingtonThe Chief Minister,the Hon. Fabian Picardo,MP. had the opportunity to meet the President of the United States of America Barrack Obama during his five-day visit to Washington.Mr. Picardo had the opportunity to speak to Mr Obama on the eve of his inauguration a the 44th President of the United States. He also attended various meetings with members of the Obama administration.

The Chief Minister and Mrs Picardo, as well as Health and Environment Minister Dr John Cortes and Mrs Cortes, attended various events around the inauguration as guests of members of the Democratic Party. These included the inauguration itself, the Candelight Dinner held before the event and the President’s Inaugural Ball.

During his Washington visit, Mr Picardo also met the Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. The Gibraltar delegation attended a function at the Ministry of the Interior held by Mr Salazar to celebrate the Inauguration.

The visit was in line with the Government’s policy to improve commercial and political links between Gibraltar and the United States and came about as a direct result of contacts made during the “Thinking Green” seminar that was held in Gibraltar last year.

The Chief Minister returned to Gibraltar today.CM with Ken Salazar in Washington

You can’t rain on my parade! By Rose Fernandez


Not many people will remember when this year’s first day of torrential rain was; but I do!
I recall waking up on the morning of the 26th of September and looking out of my window, in disbelief, at what looked like a waterfall running down my windows.
Why do I recall this you may ask? Well, it just happened to be the day of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Gibraltar’s launch party, which we had been planning every detail of for over 3 months.
The launch was planned to take place outside, with a BBQ and a summer’s evening feel to it;
but plans has to be changed just hours before the event.
Despite the short notice, we all pulled together and the inside venue ended up looking great decked out in purple & with educational posters everywhere , everything fell in to place perfectly and it all turned out better than we could have ever wished for. We believe that the rain was a blessing in disguise; the party was meant to take place inside after all.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Gibraltar was officially inaugurated by our Chief Minister, The Honourable Fabian Picardo in what was a very well-attended party; with the attendees including
The Hon. John Cortes, The Hon. Samantha Sacramento, The Hon. Paul Balban and Opposition Minister Isobel Ellul-Hammond amongst other friends, family, medical professionals and the local press.

The launch had a family feeling to it, where adults and children alike experienced a night of enjoyment, entertainment and a medley of emotions.
The Chief Minister wore a purple tie in support of the charity and stated: ‘’ A charity like Cystic Fibrosis is a welcomed step in the right direction, it is something that the Government wants to support and we want to show our support by having an important contingent of Ministers here tonight to display visually how much we support that Rosie is putting in to this, and that Winston is helping her with.’’
He then went on to say: ‘’ I know you have already been through a lot of hard times, in getting people to realise what the charity means and what the illness is… When I woke up this morning and saw it was raining, I thought it might be a blue day for some but it has turned out to be purple for everyone’’

We would like to thank everyone who attended, donated to and supported the CFFG on what was a very important night for us.
We hope to have enlightened a part of the community about CF, and we will strive to raise awareness in the whole community about this illness; as the Chief Minister said: ‘’you can count on our support whether it is today to launch the charity or in the harder work that will come’’

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-Contact details: Tel: 54008614 Email: Facebook: Twitter: CFFGIB1

Gib Day In London, Press Release By Chief Minister

My dear friends

Thank you very much indeed for being here today.

Although a day to celebrate Gibraltar in London and indeed, this
lunch for financial services providers has become a fixture of the London calendar, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I am involved as Chief Minister with my colleague Mr Gilbert Licudi QC here as minister for Financial Services.

Last year, I attended this lunch as a professional in the sector myself and as Leader of the Opposition.

I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition now, Mr Caruana QC who was Chief Minister last year, has not been able to accept my invitation to be with us today.

I saw last year that it is important for Gibraltar to engage with those of you in London who are already familiar with what we have to offer as a jurisdiction and to keep you up to date with developments in our economy.

In fact, it is as important for us also to engage with those of you who are here to hear for the first time what opportunities Gibraltar can provide.

Let me then first of all update you on what is happening at a macro economic level and in political terms, while Gilbert will after lunch take you through an update of what is happening in the financial services industry.

We won the General Election in Gibraltar on 9th December of last year.

That change of Government will not result in any changes of any consequence to our corporate tax regime.

In fact, the principal of the new Income Tax Act – setting out a rate of tax of 10% – enjoyed the support of my party when we were in Opposition.

The model of low and competitive corporate tax is not only one which we will respect now that we are the Government;

It is one we were advocating from Opposition when the no tax model linked to a payroll tax was floated.

But one innovation you will have already have appreciated is that I recommended to the Governor of Gibraltar the appointment of a Minister for Financial Services.

That allows the industry to have easier access to its relevant minister than if they need to access the Chief Minister for every eventuality.

Gilbert, who took Silk some weeks after we were elected into Government, is also Minister for gambling.

As you will be aware, Gibraltar is the pre-eminent jurisdiction in the establishment and regulation of remote gaming.

We are well poised to remain so; enjoying the highest standards of regulation as well as an open and accessible labour market to facilitate the operators need to recruit specialist skilled employees from outside Gibraltar – either from within or outside the EU.

That has all made possible, of course, by the establishment in Gibraltar of some of the most advanced telecoms infrastructure in Europe.

During the last period of administration by my party, we were responsible for the attraction to Gibraltar of Nynex of New York who, in the late 80s, laid a fibre network in Gibraltar before fibre had arrived in much of the rest of Europe.

Today communications is vitally important to Gibraltar’s business community – as it is throughout the world.

Gibtelecom – the largest of our local communications companies is a founder shareholder and participant in the Europe India Gateway – a new 15,000 km submarine cable from London to Mumbai.

This link, amongst a number of other telecommunication routes, plays an important part in positioning Gibraltar as an international communications hub as evidenced by the growing ecommerce and related business now being done on the Rock.

But perhaps more importantly, it puts us within striking distance of ensuring that in Gibraltar business and citizens should soon be able to enjoy the fastest broadband speeds in Europe.

And the challenge, which we pursue as a Government vigourously, is to also seek to ensure that such services are provided at a cost that is affordable to consumers and DRIVES DOWN the cost of doing business in Gibraltar.

Undoubtedly, we will face other challenges in the coming months and years.

Suggestions from Europe of a Financial Transaction Tax are a challenge not just for Gibraltar but also for you in the City of London.

Ideas about a tax on services, whether they affect pure financial services, gaming or other services will face stiff opposition from all of us who believe in open markets throughout the EU at least.

But in partnership with friends in the City, we know that Gibraltar can remain an ever more attractive destination from which to do business with Europe and the world.

In facing up to new challenges and new opportunities, what we ask you as a Government is that you share your concerns and your ideas with us so that we can become the facilitators of new business to the mutual benefit of London and the Rock.

In a modern, highly regulated world, Gibraltar has shown itself the equal of others in the establishment of the pre-eminent jurisdiction for online gaming.

Our financial services offering is equally modern in its offering, highly and efficiently regulated and innovative in outlook.

So welcome this opportunity to stay in touch, renew old contacts and establish new ones – and to remember that despite being a Rock, Gibraltar is not a hard place to do business.


‘This generosity is what makes Gibraltar the community it is.’

That was the essence of chief minister Fabian Picardo’s speech when he accepted the keys to a mobility ambulance from Kishin Alwani, whose personally-funded Alwani Trust had bought the brand-new £13,700 vehicle for use by the Gibraltar MS Therapy Centre. The chief minister accepted the keys to symbolise that the vehicle was a gift for the whole community. Also present were health minister John Cortes and minister for technical services Paul Balban, whose department had expedited the exemption certificate to allow the ambulance to have tinted windows. Many users and supporters of the centre, in Flint Road, North Front, were there along with the centre’s manager Jamie Pratts. The centre houses Gibraltar’s only oxygen chambers, which are used to treat a wide spectrum of conditions, including MS, ME, operation ulcers, divers’ bends and many others. It is operated by the manager and three trainees provided by the government.

According to Jamie Pratts, the problem was that many patients had to cancel their appointments because they couldn’t find anyone to transport them to the centre and back. This meant they had to hire a taxi, which was difficult for some of them to afford on a regular basis as many of them are wheelchair users. The centre approached the Alwani Trust in the hope of receiving a contribution towards the much-needed ambulance and were delighted when Kishin offered to pay the full amount. Fabian Picardo also told Mr Alwani that ‘the ambulance will live on as a tribute to your wife.’  Mrs Rajni Alwani passed away recently, and there is a plaque inside the ambulance with the words, ‘This Ambulance was donated by the Alwani Trust in memory of Mrs Rajni K Alwani.’ The ambulance is fully fitted as a mobility vehicle, with a wheelchair lift rather than a ramp, which is more comfortable for the patient as well as those assisting.

The centre has two comfortably fitted chambers – a four-seater and a six-seater – where patients spend an hour inhaling the oxygen-rich atmosphere. During this time they can read, talk, or listen to a DVD. Mr Pratts senior, the manager’s father, said that the centre has between nine and eleven sessions a day, treating 130 people a week. ‘It treats most healing processes,’ he said. ‘The list is almost endless – there is nothing that oxygen can’t help’



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Three hour queues at frontier


No…this is not an old article from the early sixties … it’s the reality many people have experienced over this past weekend.  Although a few Gibraltarians  were spotted,  it was mainly Spanish nationals that have had to endure up to three hour queues to return home yesterday. 
Without explanation “as always” the Guardia Civil have decided to check every vehicle one by one trying to elongate the queue.  This has been the trending topic on many social media Gibraltar groups over the weekend, as well as Mr Picardo’s exceptional debate on Saturday night on Spanish TV channel Tele5. El Debate is a Spanish TV programme that debate on many different topics mainly delicate ones; usually at least some of the panel’s participants tend to make highly controversial and inflammatory comments, which help push up the channel’s view stats.

Never before has a Gibraltarian Chief Minister taken part in this type of show, and therefore it was an great opportunity for Mr Picardo to express his views on the latest ‘disputes’ with the Spanish Government, such as the coommercial fishing in British Gibraltar waters issue or Queen Sofia’s absence at Her Majesty’s Jubilee lunch in London.  Mr Picardo was interviewed by a panel, one member been Montserrat Suarez Abad, whom has given many, much to talk about.  Miss Suarez accused Gibraltar of money laundering and drug dealing, calling it a tax haven; unfortunately she had no proof to back up her accusations. Mr Picardo then explained that Gibraltar is in fact on the OECD white list and not blacklisted as she claimed. Picardo then invited viewers to verify this online.  Shortly after his interview he posted the link to the OECD list on his Facebook profile, which confirmed his statement.
Article by PKB

Photo courtesy of Natalie Sarantos