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GSD renews criticism of Victoria Keys project

As the row between the Government and GSD Opposition over Victoria Keys development continued today, the GSD has accused the Chief Minister of avoiding legitimate questions on the subject.

The party accused Fabian Picardo of using “smokescreens and lies” to avoid answering questions in the public interest.

The GSD added that if Mr Picardo really wants people to know the full facts, he should publish the terms of the deal, and the identity and interests of all investors involved in the Victoria Keys project.

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “The GSD will publish the terms of the deals entered into by Mr Picardo to finance the reclamation for a small privileged group of developers.”

“We will publish them when we are elected to Government, so it is clear for everyone to see. It is therefore only a matter of time, if Gibraltar elects a GSD Government, for people to be able to see exactly what he negotiated and for whose benefit.”

The GSD underscored that Mr Azopardi is not representing anyone involved in the Victoria Keys deal.

It added that there are no conflicts of interests in respect of Victoria Keys that affect Mr Azopardi’s political work.

“What is inappropriate is for the Chief Minister, who has interests in companies associated with Hassans, to use taxpayers’ monies to assist private parties, who may have close links to him and another minister, without going out to competitive tender.”

“That is where the real conflict lies, and there is no getting away from it,” the party said.

“Even if the GSD under Peter Caruana allocated land at Coaling Island in a bid to relocate parties who had pre-existing legal commitments, what Sir Peter did not agree is to use taxpayers monies to fund this land reclamation for private developers.”

Additionally, the GSD said it had not agreed to the land reclamation project which will make up the vast bulk of the Victoria Keys development.

It explained that those are two key distinctions which Mr Picardo “cannot escape”.

The land reclamation that will be funded by the taxpayer is going to create 60,000sq m of land and is clearly the vast majority of the Victoria Keys site that the new investors will profit from, the GSD said.

“Mr Picardo needs to stop his fake news campaign that are always full of misrepresentations,” the party said.

“Teachers have experienced it and so many other sectors have also encountered his spin, broken promises and downright lies. He is now acquiring a reputation in Gibraltar.”

Mr Azopardi added: “Instead of so much waffle and spin, Mr Picardo needs to give specific answers to proper questions in the public interest such as the identity of the developers; what the cost of the reclamation will be; how many millions of taxpayers’ monies will be used; what will happen to the plots created and who will keep them and for what premium.”

“If monies belonging to the people will be used, Mr Picardo needs to account to people and explain how he is disposing of valuable land resources. This is not his money – it is the people’s money and property.”

The GSD added: “The only mud here is the one on him. He is the Chief Minister. He has declared interests linking him to Hassans and associated persons and entities. He is the one who says he has negotiated with the developers and allowed public monies to fund the reclamation for those developers to make millions at little economic risk. He is the one in control of public monies and using them for private developers without competitive tender. He is the one to be held to account by the people of Gibraltar.”