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Govt responsible for £1.1bn debt, GSD insists

The Opposition insisted last night that public debt now stood at over £1.1 billion, rejecting government statements to the contrary.

In the latest exchange in the row over the £300m estates deal, the GSD said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was attempting shirk responsibility and hide behind others.

Mr Picardo and his Government alone, the GSD said, are answerable for the decision to increase borrowings to more than £1.1 billion by using a company wholly owned by Government to borrow £300 million more for public ends and purposes.

“It is Mr. Picardo’s Gibraltar that has borrowed more than £1.1 billion,” the GSD reiterated in a statement issued yesterday evening.

“Mr Picardo and his GSLP/Liberal Government do not deny this level of borrowings. It is they, no one else, who have increased borrowings to this level.”

“It is they alone who are responsible for Gibraltar, and each of its citizens, owing now this huge sum of money.”

The GSD adds that Mr Picardo “should not and cannot hide behind those individuals that he names; none of them have ever been mentioned or criticised by the GSD.”

“Albert Mena is a public servant, and each of James Levy QC, Peter Montegriffo QC, John Collado and Charles Serruya are advisors and professionals.”

“They each act on behalf of and at the request of Government to advise and undertake functions that inform and give practical effect to political decisions that are taken by Mr Picardo and his Ministers, who are Gibraltar’s elected Government,” the GSD said.

The GSD said the GSLP/Liberal administration bore the sole responsibility for the decision to increase Gibraltar’s borrowings and was accountable for any consequences that flow from borrowing that huge sum of money and using it.

“No one borrows because it is ‘... an excellent deal ...’,” the GSD added, referring to the government’s description of the deal.

“People and companies borrow money because they need or want cash for whatever each decides to use it for.”

There is no difference in a decision by a government to borrow money, the GSD stated, adding that in the end all borrowers have to be satisfied of affordability.

The GSD added that it is not satisfied that “saddling” the community with more than £1.1 billion of borrowing is “prudent or safe”.

“It is less so in an uncertain world post the Brexit vote: time will tell,” the GSD said.

“Is Mr Picardo deciding that the borrowing solves problems now but will be someone else’s problem in the future?”

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