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Govt accuses GSD of ‘playing politics’ in row over catering sector

Eyleen Gomez

The Gibraltar Government accused the GSD of “politicising” the recent disagreements between the government and the Gibraltar Catering Association, while offering no “meaningful solutions” of its own.

No.6 Convent Place was reacting after the GSD issued a statement earlier this week supporting the association, which had called for additional assistance from the government but was told there would be no extra funding from the taxpayer.

The association had said that without additional help and against the backdrop of few tourists and high costs, some of its members faced “a cliff-edge” as winter approached.

But the government had countered that restaurants had already received substantial assistance and that this was aimed at survival, not profit.

The GSD said it was “dismayed” at the government’s suggestion that caterers were seeking to “profit at the expense of the taxpayer”, adding there should be more help for the sector.

But last night, No.6 hit back.

It said business organisations represented on the CELAC committee including the Chamber of Commerce and the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses had welcomed the recently announced Beat 3.0 measures, adding these was the same measures of financial support that the GCA were complaining about.

At that same meeting, according to No.6, all groups agreed and recognised that the aim of these measures was to survive and not expect profitability during this period.

“The Beat measures have previously been discussed and agreed with the Opposition and [GSD MP] Roy Clinton in particular, and he has never raised these concerns on restaurants and caterers with either the Chief Minister or any member of his team,” No.6 said.

“It is ironic that Government is being accused by Mr Clinton of not being generous enough in the financial support being granted to this sector.”

The Government said it had provided “a generous package” of measures to the business community in Gibraltar as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Those measures have also benefited the hospitality sector where there are some establishments that have done and continue to do very well, particularly with their take-away and delivery services,” it said.

“The Government believes the financial support granted is significant, fair and reasonable and does not accept Mr Clinton’s intervention as anything other than playing politics.”

“The Opposition need to understand that the Government has a broader duty and responsibility to balance the aspirations of particular sectors with the needs of Gibraltar as a whole.”

No.6 also added: “It will not be lost on anyone that the press releases issued for this organisation [the GCA] are issued by the GSD’s own executive committee member and general election candidate, Orlando Yeats.”

“Moreover, the Opposition have failed to put across any meaningful solutions of their own.”