Govt announces mini-reshuffle as Gibraltar faces ‘most challenging year’ since 1967
The Gibraltar Government announced a ministerial reshuffle on Monday that will see Albert Isola take on the health portfolio as Samantha Sacramento assumes oversight for a number of regulatory functions including a new Anti-Corruption Authority.
The reshuffle will also see Steven Linares, a former union official, take responsibility for industrial relations.
In announcing the reshuffle after the first cabinet meeting of the 2022/23 financial year, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo also reflected on the challenges facing this community in the months ahead.
“It will be, in financial terms, probably the most challenging year that elected politicians representing the civilian population of Gibraltar, since the Franco restrictions started in 1967 and the frontier closed in 1969,” he said.
“In those days, however, we enjoyed the benefits of the UK policy of ‘support and sustain’. That is not the situation today.”
“With the ravages of the COVID pandemic on our public finances and the potential for a hard-Brexit knock to our economy, I have to ensure that my ministerial team now plays to its core strengths as best as possible in the time we continue to hold responsibility for the public affairs of Gibraltar under the writ of the last election.”
“I am not honing the team to prepare to win an election, although that is an important element of how we work in our democracy in an adversarial, first past the post, system.”
“I am honing the team to ensure we deliver the maximum possible for Gibraltar at this time.”
“I am therefore advising His Excellency [the Governor] to make these changes to the assignment of business to ministers with effect from today so that the whole financial year will be the responsibility of one minister in each department.”
The decisions about the reshuffle were made when the estimates process started in November and implemented on the first Monday of the new financial year.”
“As I said at the time of our last press conference on matters related to COVID, Samantha Sacramento gave everything she had to the health authority at the worst time in our history and bringing decision making on health and civil contingencies together at the most stressful time in our history,” he said.
“Now that the GHA will be entirely independently run, I have asked Albert Isola to become the Government’s policy lead.”
“A new super-regulatory ministry is created which will deliver in all the areas where the Government regulates itself and others.”
“Samantha Sacramento retains responsibility for Justice including the Anti-Corruption Authority and the Ministerial Code, as well as Sanctions; Civil Contingencies; Town Planning; Multiculturalism; Equality and Community Affairs including the Quality of Care and Data Protection and The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, as well as the Prevention of Online Harms.”
“She will also take responsibility for the Office of Fair Trading and will continue to chair the COVID Strategic Coordinating Group.”
Mr Picardo said a Bill to establish an Anti-Corruption Authority would be published in the coming weeks and Ms Sacramento as Minister for Justice, would be establishing the new body and overseeing its work.
The Chief Minister said the Gibraltar Government would also be mirroring the UK’s Online Harms Bill, which is currently being debated in the UK Parliament.
“For that reason, Samantha has had those aspects of the prevention of online harm added to the description of her responsibilities under the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, which will likely be the repository of those responsibilities in lieu of others,” Mr Picardo added.
The reshuffle will see Mr Isola relinquish responsibility for Town Planning and Data Protection and consequently the GRA.
He will take the additional responsibility for the policy-making aspects of the provision of a free, universal health service in Gibraltar, as well as Elderly Residential Care and Social Services.
“Albert has already been working on the delivery of some of the digital services he has responsibility for, for the benefit of users of the health services and I expect that this will now be able to accelerate as Albert takes full policy responsibility for the GHA,” Mr Picardo said.
“Industrial Relations, which I have been managing since 2011 and which has brought me the benefit of being in touch with union colleagues, will now be led by a former trade union leader, Steven Linares.”
“Steven will refer to the Minister for Financial Stability [Sir Joe Bossano] in the first instance, and ultimately to me as Minister for Finance, any decisions with financial implications.”
“This responsibility will sit well with Steven's existing responsibilities for Employment and the Industrial Tribunal.”
“I will, of course, like every Chief Minister, also continue to handle matters of industrial relations which have general political importance, given these will inevitably have financial implications.”
“But it is clear to me that whether we have a treaty or we don't, the next 18 months available in the life time of this Parliament will require me to be pursuing the wider issues of our relationship with the United Kingdom, the European Union and Spain as we settle the new reality of life in Gibraltar with or without a UK/EU treaty.”