Marcial Morales - President of Fuerteventura's Cabildo
"We are a lot more structured because we have to give better answers to the population"
A new year is starting and once again, we meet with the president of the Cabildo, Marcial Morales, so that he can speak to the whole the population through our magazine and tell us about the year 2019. Tell us...
First of all, I hope everyone enjoyed their end of year festivities and that this new year will bring good things for everyone. The year 2019 is looking a bit harder than last year, which was tougher than 2017 already, as 2017 was the best year in numbers for the island. Although the volume of tourism will remain strong, we have to keep on working hand in hand so that the island remains an attractive destination and also a model of development. We must be friendly and all become tourism agents of this island in order to ensure that those numbers don't decrease. The ideal would be for two-thirds of the people who travel to the island to come back again, which tends to be the case often.
" The elections are approaching and unfortunately, the Island Plan has always been a tool in the political discussion and it isn't possible to approve a project only by reading the summary of a book."
And can you give us a summary of the achievements carried out in 2018 and of the projects you were telling us about last year. How are those projects doing?
Indeed, the year that just ended was a year for big changes, especially on the administrative side. We can say that we are developing a series of projects that started during this term and that will be completed in 2019. As a consequence of those plans, every day, Fuerteventura is becoming less and less dependent on polluting energies and we hope to get to 25% of renewable energies. We have developed a programme of embellishment and maintenance that includes the hiking paths, gavias (fields), roads sides, etc. There is a total of eleven programmes that include those that reward people and associations who look after their environment. We hope to start the new section of the north-south motorway in 2019, that will go from the airport to La Caldereta.
What can you tell us about Health services?
Regarding health services, the extension of the hospital will also take place this year. The plan of socio-sanitary structures will also start this year with residencies, day centres, mental health centres, day centres for people suffering from Alzheimer, etc. We are going to get up to date with the needs of the population, who, in 2040, will consist mostly of elderly people.
It must have been quite difficult to plan all this...
I have always known that urbanism was very complicated, but when I committed myself to do it, I knew how much work it represented and that I could do it. I can confirm that it doesn't include a disproportionate growth, as was done before, but it is very important to have an approved Island Plan in order to create orderly growth. I hope that in December we will get the initial approval and then we will need another six months before it is fully completed in 2019. This will be useful to put a stop to the excuses from the Spanish and the Canarian Governments, as we will have a tool we can use. At present the Cabildo has over 100 million Euros in its account and the taxes pay for most of the services' improvements on the island and we cannot tolerate the standstill we are experiencing.
Preparing solutions for when problems will arise is very good!
Indeed, this year will see the completion of those programmes and we will discover their potential.
Will there be new schools ready for next year?
Regarding education, the three schools that are in progress will be completed. One in Morro Jable, another in Villaverde and the one in El Castillo that is under construction.
Maybe in 2019, with the elections halfway through the year, it won't be as easy to concentrate efforts on the day to day administrative tasks. This process will create delays...
It definitely creates some instability, but it shouldn't affect the programmes that are underway. We have gone from being small to a Cabildo of a large population. We currently have 118.000 registered inhabitants and therefore on the administrative front, we are more structured as we have to provide better answers to the population. This year, we completed the Open-Island programme that represented an investment of six million Euros that will provide a new administration with many services thanks to new technologies. It means that people won't have to travel to Puerto del Rosario in order to sort out official matters, they will be able to do it from a computer. The public street lighting and waste disposal are also managed through telematics. There is another Open-Island programme worth 40 million Euros which means that the Technological Park now becomes a reference for space-related programmes (projects are already approved and connections with big companies are in place). Companies related to satellite technologies, drones and airships have started working. We hope to control the coasts, beaches and people searches. They will provide answers with mobile telephony, which will prevent many antennas and will provide more safety. Work was done in 2017 and 2018 and it has now become a reality. Those companies that won the bids with private and public funds with their projects will start working this year. The Cabildo is also involved in this project as well as the Canarian Government and the State and it includes European funding also. The plan is for Fuerteventura to make that technological progress for the Canaries for what is called “baja cota” (low level), which represents 20Km in height.
This includes new qualified employment.
For our young people who are well trained it will be a great opportunity. On the other hand, we want to promote the primary sector and concentrate on direct local consumption products. We have many consumers and this is a great opportunity for this sector. Furthermore, the growth of livestock farming and agriculture on the island makes the landscape more attractive. Tourists want more and more experiences, apart from the sun and beaches and this growth allows them to discover the local customs, gastronomy and to visit out livestock farms to discover our local productions.