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Opinion & Analysis

GSD May Day message - This generation will need to rise to the challenge

Eyleen Gomez

by Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi

In marking May Day this year it is important to reflect on the period of economic rebuilding that lies ahead. There is no getting away from the Covid-19 crisis at this time. This has permeated all levels of our global society. It has sent a human and economic shockwave around the globe.

It has put world economies and entire workforces into paralysis. Already we have seen massive pressure on business and with that fall in customers and income there will equally be pressure on employees. This is an undeniable reality and it will get worse before it gets better.

This economic shock will cause unprecedented hard times and we must all be ready to play our part in our recovery. We have been working with Government on the economic measures to manage this Covid crisis.

These will need to be radical and span some time to have the effect of both stabilising the economy and jump-starting it. Beyond the immediate steps we have already taken through the BEAT initiatives we must now in further phases roll out clear, targeted and wise economic assistance to regenerate our economy.

But whatever economic measures we take the reality is that it cannot insulate us completely especially given that the “new normal” means that we are unlikely to return to how things were anytime fast.

We cannot put ourselves in an economic bubble that protects us completely because that would simply be unaffordable. As aspects of the economy crash inevitably there will be real challenges ahead for business and employees and economic consequences for some families.

Additionally to pay for the economic measures that are being taken and sustain public services while underwriting the massive loss in Government revenue big levels of borrowing will need to be secured.

The consequences of this is that it will layer over existing levels of direct and indirect borrowing creating a decades long generational liability for Gibraltar. There is a need for transparency of that economic picture so that we are all fully aware and own this recovery and its civic and financial cost. There is no point painting an unreal picture. And the figures should be there for everyone to see.

This may sound like a stark economic warning but it is important we are all clear of what is going on around us. To emerge from all that hard choices will need to be made. Our economic survival and sustainability is at stake. Like it was in the years of greater economic pressure before the 1980s.

This generation will need to rise to that challenge like previous generations did and ensure through its actions that it repositions the economy, allows it to thrive once more and protects jobs and conditions. Any unnecessary excess in Government expenditure must end and economic planning for the future must be much more critical in deciding the social or economic need to do things.

As citizens we too all have civic responsibilities to do as much as we can to contribute to our success by working harder still to protect our families.

The future will bring testing times. There will be no free rides. I am sure our Gibraltar will stand this particular test as we have withstood other challenges.

We, the GSD, will be there for you every step of the way. On this May Day let us collectively affirm our determination to face this challenge in a way previous generations would be proud.