GSD promise on Credit Finance is ‘reckless and nonsensical’, Govt says
The GSD’s promise on Credit Finance Company and transparency was “nonsensical” and could expose the company to huge damage claims, the Gibraltar Government said yesterday.
No 6 Convent Place was reacting after GSD leader Daniel Feetham said that, if elected into government, his party would publish details of loans granted by Credit Finance.
The GSD argues that the government is funnelling public spending through Credit Finance, thus avoiding parliamentary scrutiny. That spending should be debated in parliament and included in government debt calculations, the Opposition says.
But yesterday the government said Mr Feetham’s “reckless” statements exposed him to ridicule and were “particularly foolish coming from a lawyer”.
It said Credit Finance owed a duty of confidentiality to its borrowers, who paid an interest rate designed to produce the returns required for depositors in the Savings Bank.
The government compared Mr Feetham's statements to a candidate for Prime Minister in the UK making an electoral commitment to publish all the loan details of RBS and Lloyds, of which the UK Government is the majority shareholder.
No 6 Convent Place also raised the GSD’s record in office, saying it had granted “secret loans to failing companies like OEM” leading to “a huge loss” to the taxpayer.
It also flagged the £10m lost on the Theatre Royal project and the £60m overspend on the airport terminal.
It said the GSD thus had no moral authority to “preach” about financial management, adding that the GSLP/Liberal administration was being “entirely transparent” about Credit Finance, while respecting the right to confidentiality of its clients and producing “excellent returns” for depositors.
“Danny Feetham doesn't know how to get off the hook that the GSD will in fact go down in the history of Gibraltar as the party that mortgaged the Treasury building,” Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said.
“In one breath they ask us when we are going to complete our manifesto commitments and in the next they tell us we should not do so. They are sending out confused messages laced with insults that make no sense.”
“What Mr Feetham should do is worry more about the abysmal attendance at GSD convened meetings since he took over and leave us to the brilliant job we are doing of properly steering Gibraltar through this difficult time and in the careful and prudent management of our public finances.”
In responding to Mr Feetham, the Chief Minister also poked fun at the “poorly attended” GSD meeting earlier this week.
“The fact that a party that has been in Government for sixteen years is condemned to holding general meetings open to the public at the Charles Hunt Room is bad enough,” he said.
“To see that in order to try and make the place seem full, the executive committee had to sit in the audience and the seats had to be reduced to three chairs per row per side from the usual six or seven, is a stunning indictment on Mr Feetham's leadership.”
“He has already lost one elected member this term. He cannot lead or unite his party, let alone Gibraltar.”