‘Foolish’ and ‘scaremongering’, Govt says of Hassan Nahon’s warnings of ‘economic collapse’
The Gibraltar Government has hit out at the leader of Together Gibraltar, Marlene Hassan Nahon, calling her analysis of the budget debate as ‘simply untrue’ and ‘scaremongering’.
The response from No.6 Convent Place followed Ms Hassan Nahon’s statements on GBC that the GSLP/Liberal stewardship of public finances had left Gibraltar “on the verge of collapse,” which followed her absence from the budget debate as she was in mourning for her mother, Lady Marcelle Hassan, who died recently.
The Government welcomed her return to active politics but called her statements “an unprecedented failure of analysis,” adding that her statement was “dangerous” and would cause Gibraltar “huge reputation damage” had Ms Hassan Nahon “enjoyed the slightest credibility in economic matters, which she obviously does not.”
The Government added she had delivered “the usual populist spin and a toxic tissue of repeated errors and false misrepresentations designed to be only an attack on the Government and not an objective analysis.”
It said her latest statement “contains zero substance” and is “simply a collection of soundbites and insults laced together with entirely incorrect positions on the economy and public debt.”
In its response, the Government said the the Gibraltar economy is “resilient and strong” and a testament to the “incredible work” of entrepreneurs.
“As the Chief Minister told the Parliament, the GDP of Gibraltar (which is a measure of the performance of economy) has bounced back within two years,” the Government said.
“The GDP has returned to £2.59 Billion, above pre-pandemic levels.”
“That is hugely positive and is an objective demonstration of Ms Hassan Nahon’s repeated failure of even basic analysis.”
“Additionally, the United Kingdom would not have supported Gibraltar with a sovereign guarantee if they believed, as Ms Hassan Nahon has foolishly suggested, that we would not be able to repay the sums borrowed because our economy was on the verge of collapse.”
The Government said the “opposite is the objective assessment of the United Kingdom’s Treasury.”
It added this professional assessment is “more valuable than Ms Hassan Nahon’s superficial and politically self-serving assessment.”
The statements from Ms Hassan Nahon that the Government is ‘dangerous’, ‘will do anything to hold onto power’ and is ‘taking Gibraltar to a precipice’, are all “obviously untrue,” the Government added.
“No more than a collection of insults worthy of the worst demagogue,” the Government said.
“They are statements which are beneath an elected Member of Parliament who enjoys the privilege of representing the people of Gibraltar.”
“This type of unnecessary and exaggerated insults from Ms Hassan Nahon will not change the reality that the Government is working hard to ensure the safety and security of all Gibraltar residents in every respect – quite the opposite of what she says.”
“The statements by Ms Hassan Nahon about alleged ‘privatisations’ are also demonstrated to be untrue, false scaremongering by the reality that the Government is actually ‘renationalising’ (ie the opposite of privatising) Aqua Gib.”
“Ms Hassan Nahon’s errors could not be more self-evident than in this obvious respect.”
Following Ms Hassan Nahon’s statements on the GHA, the Government confirmed there are “no cuts” in the GHA, instead it is removing the cost of Covid from the GHA Budget.
“We all wish and expect it will no longer be a required expense this year,” the Government said.
“Reorganising the GHA is a work in progress, addressing problems which the GHA has, unfortunately, in common with public healthcare systems around Europe.”
“Secondly, neither the Government nor the Civil Service are presenting anything other than a full picture of the public debt.”
“It is an insult to the Civil Service and all the professionals in it for Ms Hassan Nahon to say that they would present documentation to Parliament that was incomplete – especially when the criteria for their preparation are exactly the same as were used by successive governments of Gibraltar, including the GSD, whose record in government she used to vehemently defend before turning on that Party.”
The Government added it is “particularly nonsensical” for Ms Hassan Nahon to comment on the ability to borrow at “an affordable” sovereign rate “in the years since the pandemic” because the UK has agreed to back Gibraltar’s borrowing.
“In fact, we have never before in our history been able to borrow at sovereign rates,” the Government said.
“We have been able to secure the support of the UK as a result of our close relationship.”
It is “untrue” we would not be able to borrow otherwise, the Government said, adding this was agreed before the UK provided the sovereign guarantee.
“Ms Hassan Nahon must either have forgotten this key fact or has set out to deceive the public if she remembered it and, despite knowing the contrary, has made this false statement,” the Government said.
The Government criticised Ms Hassan Nahon, calling her “wholly unable to seriously present herself as Party leader” and said she does not hold “abilities necessary to assume the post of Chief Minister of Gibraltar, which is the position which, with a straight face, she seeks to be elected to.”
“That is perhaps her greatest misrepresentation to herself, her Party and the People of Gibraltar,” the Government said.