Last month saw a large turn out of the membership for the Chamber’s AGM, which took place at the Eliott Hotel. The 2011 Annual Report was presented to the membership, which was well received from the floor. A vote of thanks was passed down by the President on behalf of the Board to retiring Director Bruno Callaghan, who, as well a being a Director for over ten years, was a past President. Thanks for all your past hard work Bruno.
In to his place steps Mike Nicholls, of Chestertons, who brings real estate and accounting skills to the board – welcome aboard Mike!
At the AGM a useful and lengthy debate took place, with interaction between the President, Directors and the floor. The Board outlined areas of concern in the local economy and discussed various issues that the membership wishes the Board to focus on over the coming months. Our annual trading conditions survey is published in this edition of B2B and it is with information gathered from this survey that your Board will identify Key policy objectives, which will be set out shortly.
The new GSLP/Liberal Administration are getting their feet firmly under the table, and a number Chamber Board members have been appointed to various Government Advisory Councils, for which we are grateful, and we very much look forward to putting across the views of the private sector.
The Portuguese government recently announced that they were scrapping 4 bank holidays in order to improve GDP by boosting economic activity. They negotiated the chosen days with the Vatican and the four days affected are: All Saints Day on 1 November; Corpus Christi, which falls 60 days after Easter; 5 October, which commemorates the formation of the Portuguese Republic in 1910; and 1 December, which marks Portuguese independence from Spanish rule in 1640.
Here in Gibraltar the new Government has gone the other way: By pushing May Day holiday to the 1st of May, we are now completely out of sync with the UK who traditionally celebrate May Day on the first Monday of May. So now, not only are our banks shut for a day when the UK´s are open and of course visa versa, the whole private sector is out of sync with our main trading partner which inevitably means 2 workings days missed instead of one. The Chamber has never agreed with changing the May Day Bank Holiday to the 1st May
When it comes to wages and working conditions local workers always clamour for “parity” with the UK – So why not have the same holidays in Gibraltar as in the UK and on the same dates?
Add to the above, yet another new bank holiday for Workers Memorial Day, which occurs on the 28th April each year, (although this year it passed to the Monday 30th) we now, potentially, could have a bank holiday on a Tuesday and Thursday. Even the Spanish have said they will alter the religious festivals of the 6th and 8th of December, so they take place on a Friday and Monday. In 2012 Gibraltar has 13 public Holidays (that’s nearly 2 weeks!), the UK has 9, Spain has 11 and Portugal now has 7.
Adding new holidays decreases productivity and increases business costs. The Chamber will soon make representations to Government on a formulae which will be good for business and the whole business sector.
The GSLP/Liberals have a manifesto commitment to 40%+ GDP growth over their 4 year term – adding and messing with Bank holidays is, in the opinion of the Chamber, not a good start to that goal.