Chamber Comment

The first three months of the year have sped by, and a great deal has been happening. We entered the New Year with a “ground breaking” new 10% corporate tax rate for all businesses; a level playing field for Gibraltar.
This offers great financial benefit to local businesses who have in the past been paying a 22% rate and who will now pay just 10%.
Our new proposition is competitive in the European market place, and should give Gibraltar an edge. Thankfully there has been no sign of an “exodus” in the on-line gaming sector, which we have built up so successfully, and there is more interest than ever from new corporate and private entities alike.
New developments
We now need to address our ability to take advantage of this new business; providing new purpose built and modern  office accommodation is crucial. The World Trade Centre, is said to be gaining speed with a successful launch at MIPIM, and with outline planning in place, building is said to be starting “soon”.
Although Government figures show declining hotel occupancy, there seems to be no shortage of guests at town centre locations, with some weekdays being fully booked. Being able to add another key “piece” to the Gibraltar jigsaw is vital, it is therefore pleasing to hear that both the Lester Hotel project and the Hilton Hotel and office project are both progressing.
The new airport terminal is rapidly taking shape, and looking all the more impressive. Having gained a new easyJet route from Liverpool, Paul Simmons, easyJet’s regional head told  B2B “I really believe that the new terminal will be a great help to our operations and aviation in Gibraltar.”
There are also rumours abounding, that new carriers, using smaller more efficient aircraft, are looking at the viability of the Madrid route again. This service  if timetabled correctly could be pivotal to Gibraltar, and would enable us to expand our market.
The Devil’s Tower Road redevelopment is now beginning to take impressive shape and, together with the new car parks and tunnel, should go a long way to improving the traffic infrastructure.
Power
Thankfully we have suffered few power cuts since the arrival of the temporary generators, and Government must be commended on the commitment to build a new power station; no mean feat in this tough financial climate. But one still wonders about the merits of the huge costs, when there is a European grid on our doorstep.
Housing
The initial two blocks of new rental housing  at Mid Harbours, the first to be built since the seventies, have been delivered. This development is also an attractive addition to skyline and  adds an extra 500 new flats to our housing stock, which is welcome.
Election
2011 will also bring a General Election to Gibraltar – the popular bet is on October , and as a result all Chamber members are encouraged to submit ideas for a “manifesto wish list” which they would like  the Board to put forward to the various political parties.
Christmas
Looking a little further forward, the Chamber would like the Christmas decorations and lights to be enhanced, not only in Main Street but also throughout Gibraltar in order to create a better festive feel for the Christmas season. In this, the most important time of the retail year, there is a need to create an atmosphere comparative to other main European cities not only with lights, but also with a festive  programme in which the whole community can participate. For this to be organized properly, the planning needs to start now by Government and cultural organisations.

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