Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Vinet unveils plans for extensive refurbishment

North Front cemetery * £24m turnover for Gibtelecom group

Minister for the Environment Fabian Vinet unveiled plans for the extensive beautification and refurbishment of the North Front Cemetery during his Budget Speech on Friday.

Mr Vinet explained that the project will include the resurfacing of footpaths and junctions, the reconstruction of boundaries and general areas and the inclusion of landscaping features, such as flower beds and shaded areas. Facilities for visitors such as benches and toilets will also be renovated.

The Minister told the House that he had taken a great personal interest in this project.

He also regretted the non-publication of the Environmental Charter so far, and gave a commitment to do so before the end of the calendar year.

On the subject of telecommunications, the Minister said Spain’s obstruction continued to impact upon the development of the local industry.

He said Gibtelecom is awaiting a date for the European Court hearing regarding the company’s application for telephony roaming rights against the EU Commission, given the impossibility of local mobile customers to ‘roam’ in Spain.

The separate complaint, concerning the unavailability of telephone numbers due to Spain’s non-recognition of the ‘350’ code was lodged with the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg in September. Gibtelecom is also awaiting a date for this hearing.

Mr Vinet said discussions on telecommunications matters have commenced under the new tripartite forum, and the Government’s preferred option for the numbering issue is a 00 44 solution for calls from Spain to Gibraltar, as an interim measure.

Meanwhile the turnover of the Gibtelecom Group in 2004 rose to over £24 million, an increase of nearly 9% over 2003. Mr Vinet said this growth has helped the company to continue to make substantial payments to cover past service pensions liability deficits and current pensions benefits. The dividends received of £2.6 million, shown in the Government’s Estimates, reflect the final dividend of £1.3million for the financial year 2003 and an interim dividend for 2004 of £1.3million. A final dividend of £1.1million for 2004 has been provisionally declared by the Board.

Mr Vinet also enumerated the five major projects undertaken by the Technical Services Department that is also in his portfolio. These are the construction of the administration centre building and spectator stand at the new sports complex at Bayside, the waterproofing of the podium at Sir William Jackson Grove, the relocation of the MOD’s MSG unit from Coaling Island to Gun Wharf, the watersports centre building at the new sports complex and the new canopy at the land frontier.

Mr Vinet added Government remains fully committed “to the preservation, protection and improvement of our environment, the protection of human health and the prudent and rational use of our resources.”

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