Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has announced the appointment of Accountant General Charles Santos to the post of Financial Secretary as from the 1st of October.
The appointment is, in keeping with the established practice in relation to this post, a direct appointment of the Chief Minister.
Albert Mena, who has held the post of Financial Secretary on contract since 2014, will return to his legal practice at Hassans International Law Firm from 1st October.
Initially, Mr Mena had been appointed for three years in 2014 and was therefore expected to stay in post only until 2017. Given the result of the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the work entailed in that respect and then the advent of the COVID pandemic, Mr Mena agreed to stay through the pandemic period and to finalise this year’s estimates process before returning to private practice. He will leave office on the 30th September, having served eight years in the post of Financial Secretary, with half of the current financial year to go. This will give the new Financial Secretary, Mr Santos, a full half year to prepare the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the new financial year 2023/24.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “The nation owes a huge debt of gratitude to Albert Mena for his work as Financial Secretary in seminal moments of our history. He was in post for the shock of the result of the Brexit referendum and the impact of the COVID pandemic. Both of these events will define his contribution to public life and to the financial management of Gibraltar. His work on each of these has been a massive benefit to Gibraltar and its people. In fact, having stayed eight years in a job which he was originally slated to do for three, it is right that he should now return to his private practice as we are emerging from the consequences of both COVID and Brexit. Moreover, Albert has achieved the main aim which we identified on his arrival at No6, which was to help to train a successor from within the ranks of the Civil Service.
“I know that if Albert does not move back to legal practice now it will be very hard for him ever to do so. He is already fifty five and he has given some of his most productive years to Gibraltar in his public service at the hugely difficult times through which we have worked together. As a result, he leaves with a lot of work to be proud of and having helped us to steer Gibraltar on a course to the recovery of its public finances. He will nonetheless remain closely involved in advising me on matters of public finance, as well as continuing to serve on a number of government boards where is contribution will be a great assistance to the government.
“Albert is a hugely respected and very well-liked individual who is respected beyond our shores and has been a key part of establishing our excellent relationship with HM Treasury in the United Kingdom and with international financial institutions. I know everyone will therefore be very happy to see him continue to be supportive and involved with the work government will do to entrench the recovery of our public finances from the effect of the twin shocks of Brexit and COVID.
“Additionally, the work he has done in government has demanded a commitment in time which has been far excess of what would have been demanded of him in private practice. I will for ever be grateful to him for that commitment and the delivery, against highly complex circumstances, of hugely positive outcomes for Gibraltar and its people. I extend that gratitude also to his family who supported him through these hugely challenging periods when he has worked very closely with me and Sir Joe. Never has it been truer to say that we have been through tough times together, and I also personally thank Albert for his friendship, help and support, at a professional and human level, in the hardest times I have ever faced as a politician and professional. The times we faced together in March 2020 are unparalleled and his support, hard work and unflinching commitment and professionalism made the crucial difference at that time when Gibraltar needed him.”
Financial Secretary, Albert Mena said: "I agreed to take on the post of Financial Secretary on a contract in 2014 for a period of 3 years. I agreed to extend this during the very challenging period that initially started with Brexit and was then compounded by the COVID pandemic out of a sense of public duty given the extraordinary pressures on Government finances that arose as a result. I never expected to stay in post as long as I have. I feel now, however, that it is a good time to return to my professional career in Hassans as well as devoting more time to my young family. It has been a real honour to serve as Financial Secretary, working alongside the Chief Minister and his team, together will all those dedicated individuals across the Civil Service I have had the pleasure of coming into contact with over the last 8 years. In particular I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to the extremely hardworking, committed and dependable team at Ministry of Finance in the Office of the Financial Secretary. I think the work we have done in the past three financial years, in particular on COVID measures, are now on track to be resolved after this year’s Budget and I look forward to continuing to work with new Financial Secretary and the government from private practice as Gibraltar is now primed to turn the corner from the challenging situations we have faced through no fault of our own. I am optimistic about the prospects for the Gibraltar economy and the positive repercussions it can deliver for our public finances in the months and years to come as we recover financially and we maintain the discipline on spending and revenue raising which the Chief Minister set out in his Budget address this year. I remain available and willing to be called upon by the new Financial Secretary, Minister Bossano and the Chief Minister at any time to assist Gibraltar whenever it needs me.”
Accountant General and Financial Secretary designate, Charles Santos, said: “I am greatly honoured to have been asked to take over from Albert Mena. I have worked very closely with him in the time that he has been Financial Secretary and have learnt a lot from him. I look forward to working even more closely now with the Chief Minister and Sir Joe Bossano on all matters related to the public finances of Gibraltar and seeing through the measures that have been put in place to resolve the challenges that Brexit and particularly COVID have given rise to. As I move from the Treasury to the Ministry of Finance, I want to thank all my colleagues at Treasury, with whom I know I will continue to work in months and years to come.”