Blas Acosta – President of Fuerteventura's Cabildo
“I am very satisfied with the 12 councillors, there is a good climate of understanding and very qualified people”
We met with the president of the Cabildo, Blas Acosta so that he could address Fuerteventura's population through our pages regarding the new year 2020.
We would like you to talk to us about your projects and experiences regarding the year that just ended.
First of all, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year that I trust will be filled with novelties and improvements for the island. Regarding the year that just ended, it was a year of elections and proposals. I believe that the work carried out for many years by the Socialist Party in all the institutions has been recognised and this is what motivated this significative change. We hope to be able to satisfy the expectations that motivated this change. As a consequence, I have had the responsibility and honour to become president of the Cabildo of Fuerteventura. During the past few months at the government, we have structured the Cabildo to be able to respond quicker than before. We have changed the rules and regulations of the Cabildo itself and also the working structure of employees who have been moved depending on their abilities in order to achieve better performance. We have also caught up on the delays of the previous team up to 50%. Furthermore, we have created the bases for financial diversification. We have almost 200 million Euros in our current account and a budget of about 110 million Euros to achieve public projects that are required in many areas. We will now start the opening for bids, this will obviously create a lot of activity and need for labour other than related to tourism.
Can you now contract employees or is the limitation still in place?
It is still the same, but we have created various training programmes for young people on the island and we started last year with 33 young people. In January we will start again with another 30 young people of under 30 years of age, in order to provide them with opportunities. But mostly, we want to work on procedures and release fundamental political decisions such as those relating to water. We know that the management of this public enterprise can be drastically improved.
What can you tell us about the investments in public projects?
In January, I hope to sign an agreement with the Canarian Government for the roads, where we will look after the actual work to widen the road between Las Salinas and the airport. The project is blocked since 2004 by the Canarian Government that has not authorised the motorway between Pozo Negro and the airport to connect the Nord and the South. We will also start the work between La Caldereta and the airport with a nine-million-euro-project initially. We hope there will be some money left and the rest could be used to authorise the roads between La Pared and El Cuchillete in Gran Tarajal. More importantly, we are starting an infrastructure plan concerning public health as it has never been done before. We are starting this month with the creation of 100 hospital spaces in Puerto del Rosario and we will also start building a geriatric medical structure that will then be staffed and equipped by the Council. I have ideas about the investments so that they don't keep on being destined to hotels and industrial promotions and are redirected to hospital structures that are required in the south of the island particularly. We also have the commitment of the Health Council that will staff them with qualified professionals. We hope to develop a plan representing over 20 millions’ worth of investments. This is our political commitment and will create employments also.
I am going to ask you something that we talked about before, which has been quite hard work. Is the Island Development Plan (PIOF) for Fuerteventura ready?
Yes, it is completed and we hope to present it during the first trimester and get the final approval so that it can finally become reality. Many issues are still pending, which we hope to complete thanks to our dedication and knowledge.
What can you tell people who might be preoccupied about the island's growth and tourism?
The truth is that over the past few years our numbers were double compared to the other Canary Islands and now numbers are readjusting. Despite that, the figures remain almost the same. The collapse of Thomas Cook is having its effects on the market and we are planning a lot of improvements so that tourism can keep on coming to the island. Paths, avenues, accessibility, accesses, showers and toilets on the beaches, etc.
What can you tell us about the unemployment on the island?
First of all, I did a diagnostic of the situation in each one. In Sports, we need infrastructures because over the past four years none have been created. We need to start building new premises in collaboration with the ayuntamientos and then increate the services in the facilities that we have and the opening times. On the other hand, we need to improve the grants allocated to sports as much as possible in order to adapt them to the real necessities. We must support the events that have an impact in the Canaries, in Spain and in Europe that also generate activity for the small and medium-size businesses of the island and we must also provide support to the existing sports' events of the island. The combination Sports-Tourism can generate wealth in Fuerteventura. In Security and Emergencies, we need to improve the service. Until now there were only four people in that department and there are eight at present, although we hope that there will soon be sixteen more. The objective is to provide a good fire-fighting and rescue service from the Cabildo and keep on acquiring the required vehicles for the safety of the island as well as improving the training in schools for prevention and awareness. We are able to look after towns of less than 20.000 inhabitants, specifically Tuineje, Betancuria and Antigua, the rest depends on each ayuntamiento.
What can you tell us about the unemployment on the island?
The island currently has 130 000 inhabitants, more than ever before. Over the past 8 years, the population has increased by 20 000 people and we have about 9 000 unemployed people. There used to be 12 000 before. I believe the numbers are significant, but we hope to improve them soon.
Do you feel good within your Government team?
I am very satisfied with the 12 councillors. There is a good climate of understanding and very qualified people in each position. We hope that the population will notice the activity and investments made with public money that doesn't remain in bank accounts.