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GSD rejects Picardo’s ‘smokescreen’ on Credit Finance

The GSD said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is deflecting criticism over his “reckless” handling of public finances by “hiding behind a smokescreen”.

In a statement, the Opposition said Mr Picardo’s position was neither “consistent nor coherent”.

It said that while in Opposition, Mr Picardo had accused the former GSD administration of being addicted to debt.

“Once elected as Chief Minister he proceeded to spend more over the next 4 years than the GSD did in 16 years in Government,” the GSD said.

“In 2015, he told people that the public finances were sound and that there was sufficient money to pay for yet another extravagant manifesto, only to borrow another £300 million within months of the election secured by a mortgage over Government housing estates.”

“It is his reckless spending over the last five years that are the cause of early signs within the Government of the introduction of austerity measures.”

The GSD reiterated its promise to make public the loans made by Credit Finance Company if elected into government.

And it dismissed the government’s suggestion that this would breach confidentiality agreements and expose Credit Finance to claims for damages.

Earlier this week, No 6 Convent Place said this would be comparable to a UK contender for Prime Minster promising to reveal details of loans made by RBS and Lloyd’s, banks in which the British Government is the majority shareholder.

“To compare Credit Finance Co Limited to a licensed bank is nonsensical and the comparison is simply designed to mislead people,” the GSD countered.

“Credit Finance Co Limited is a Government owned company entirely controlled by the Government. It is the Government who decides who benefits from loans.”

“The money used to make those loans is the people’s money and people are entitled to know how it is being spent.”

The GSD also rejected suggestions that it had accused the government of doing nothing in the face of Brexit.

“What the GSD has said is that Mr. Picardo cannot continue to spend and incur more debt as if Brexit were a figment of our collective imagination and that his proposal for Scotland and Gibraltar to remain within the EU while England and Wales exist, in wholly unrealistic,” the Opposition said.

“This is not only our view, it is also the view of the UK Government as seen by the comments of the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, within the last few days.”

It also dismissed the chief Minister’s jibe that a GSD meeting this week had been poorly attended.

“Mr. Picardo has an unhealthy obsession with the GSD,” the Opposition said.

“The GSD is very happy with its public meeting. Feedback has been excellent and the meeting was very well attended. “

“We understand that the last time the GSLP held a meeting in the Charles Hunt, the shouts of disappointment from activists could be heard reverberating across the building.”