I am Erika Anne Pozo, a recent member of Together Gibraltar. Most of you will not know me and within this membership might even be hearing my name for the very first time, but I believe my story will resonate with many in this community - particularly young women and families.
I come from a relatively humble background, grew up in our very own Glacis estate and attended our mainstream public schools. Whilst I became a young single mother and I worked full time in our private sector for a large financial services group, I gained my professional qualifications and training through tenacious hard work. I have been involved in various charities and initiatives, I have trailed remote Moroccan mountains and successfully completed the London Marathon in aid of impoverished and disadvantaged children. My social upbringing has coloured the rest of my life and has allowed me to keep in touch with the concerns and difficulties many face today. Personally, it would be the ultimate public service to help others avoid these difficulties and help more people facing hardship to attain a better standard of living.
I am an experienced finance professional holding several professional qualifications, both in general insurance and accountancy. I have worked at a senior management level very closely with regulated firms, mainly insurance companies who passport into the EU. Most of my experience is based on financial reporting, risk management and advising on compliance and solvency matters. I have been an active member of various finance committees and have experience drafting governance policies. I have a sound knowledge of our regulatory regime and frameworks and have represented company boards in facing the wrath of regulatory demand and scrutiny.
I am of the strong opinion that I have grown a backbone of empathy, resilience and professional expertise to provide input, feedback and challenge to a political organisation whose core principles are first and foremost based on moral values.
I am proud to have never belonged to any political party, and whilst following local affairs have always maintained a healthy level of scepticism surrounding the political debate. I enter this field with candour, integrity and independence. My candidacy is free from bias or any undue influence, and I can attest that I have no corporate backing. I believe Together Gibraltar has provided a new opening in our community and introduced a clean slate alternative of ethical and collaborative politics to Gibraltar, which highly resonates with my values. This has contributed to my decision to stand for candidacy and add relevant value and strength to this new fresh movement that Gibraltar desperately needs.
I am a strong believer that the 21st century parliamentarian should be close to the community they represent. I am mindful of the great tasks before us, and understand our national concern, I appreciate that faith and confidence in our elected needs to be restored.
I will provide much a needed female vibrance to the cabinet in an area dominated by men. I offer added skills to our existing pool of high calibre representatives, and I will ensure that Together Gibraltar continues to flourish, develop and fight to implement fairer policies that are in congruence with the expectations of our constituents, that we ensure we extend opportunities to everyone with a willing heart.
Social inequalities and injustices must be tackled, family friendly policies to further improve the work life balance across all sectors must be enhanced, gender pay gaps must be addressed, and dignified pensions must be made available to all. Furthermore, particularly where my expertise is, and what my motto will be, that our government recognises that the taxpayer is our most powerful stakeholder that should be protected.
Gibraltar needs to be governed and challenged by a new administration, our political environment has grown highly divisive and dominated by nepotism and corruption, which has unfortunately become the norm and accepted by society as the way it is. There is no doubt the political scene needs to be rattled, and a policy of zero tolerance must be deeply embedded within the culture of our government from the top down.
I am confident that the new paradigm being introduced by our party is what Gibraltar needs and what the existing people in power will have to adapt to. Gibraltar is a prosperous piece of land, unfortunately its heritage and character is in decline and under threat. Our landscape and environment have been compromised for the entrenchment of opportunists, investors who have taken advantage of our flawed system. As much as we are led to believe our economy is insulated, collusion and abuse prevails.
We shouldn’t be questioning whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works. Our public purse has been strangled, and there seems to be no control or visibility over government spending. Stringent rules need to be introduced within government similar to those imposed to public interest entities. We already have a regulator fervently protecting the interest of consumers, why are we not protecting our most powerful stakeholder, the taxpayer? A Government who has been at the forefront of DLT and e-gaming, should lead by example and protect the dignity of the taxpayer.
The establishment of an Independent Government Oversight Board separate to the audit office will add further assurance and lines of defence to internal controls and is part of our vision for enhancing governance and accountability. To ensure conflicts of interest are reported and managed effectively, with the appropriate safeguards put into place, and the implementation of a rigorous Code of Conduct for MPs, ministers and senior public officials to comply with. No government should have unfettered powers of decision.
Deciding to serve this community has been an inevitable next step for me, and some of the policies and reforms I will be advocating and hoping to contribute in include;
Implementing policies to introduce transparency and enhance public disclosure, such as lifting the veil on ultimate beneficial ownerships of state owned companies.
Disclosures of all government contracts and transactions with privately owned firms.
Of particular importance to me, providing detailed information to all members of our community in an easy to read and understand format. Everyone in society has a right to transparency in their own language. Proactively educating the public in an effective way on the true state of affairs is of vital importance to me and our party to ensure collaboration is at the fore.
The current administration has failed to appropriately educate our community in areas such as Brexit. Many are greatly concerned of the challenges that lie ahead, from our small local businesses through to our most elderly citizens. Whilst we have heard there are working groups and committees in place, the government has failed to communicate and reassure the people of Gibraltar. We appreciate that the issues surrounding Brexit have been of worldwide uncertainty, but controls have not been adopted or implemented to effectively manage the inherent risks of this issue. Stress testing of our economy of plausible scenarios could have been considered to quantify the potential financial effects of our economy and assist the economy and its various industries in contingency planning.
I trust the above gives you some insight into my social background and my vision for Gibraltar. Regardless of the results of this primary election, I can pledge my commitment to our party and the executive team. It would be an absolute honour for me to be elected by yourselves to represent Together Gibraltar in what I deem will be a historical first election for our party. With the spirit of Together Gibraltar and our self-less inspirational female leader steering us in the right direction, we can lead our government into a perpetual revolution of change to create a fairer, more progressive and sustainable Gibraltar.