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GSD's claims on tax treaty are 'utterly ridiculous', Govt says as political row festers

The Rock of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, is seen from the Spanish side of the border near La Linea de la Concepcion, southern Spain, November 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

The Chief Minister has described as "utterly ridiculous" the GSD's claim that the Gibraltar Government has made sovereignty concessions in the tax treaty with Spain, accusing the Opposition of a "cheap and transparent" attempt to confuse the public.

In the latest round of a string of bitter exchange on the tax agreement, Fabian Picardo said the GSD's "negative and destructive" approach to the tax treaty was shortsighted and rooted in past business practices that lacked transparency.

And he slammed as "unbelievable" the GSD's suggestion that the GSLP/Liberals had been soft on Spain, adding that his government would never make concessions on sovereignty.

"What the GSD want Gibraltarians to believe is that Sir Joe Bossano, Joseph Garcia, all my other Cabinet colleagues and I have gone soft on Spain," Mr Picardo said.

"This is utterly ridiculous. No one will ever believe that."

"No one will ever believe that the GSD are tougher on the Spanish issue than we are."

Mr Picardo said the GSD had been ready to move the artificial reef created in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, recalling too the deal to allow Spanish fishermen to fish commercially in those waters when Gibraltarians could not.

He cited too the Cordoba Agreement and the arrangements which "gave powers" to Spanish Guardia Civil officers over Gibraltarians at the airport.

"Who can believe that they are better guardians of our sovereignty than we are?" Mr Picardo asked.
"No one will believe them."

The GSD had accused Mr Picardo resorting to "mindless nationalism" in his defence of a "flawed" treaty which, according to the Opposition, would lead to Gibraltar losing business, inward investment and job.

But undeterred, the Chief Minister repeated his criticism that the GSD had "sided with Spain" by questioning the recognition that the tax treaty gave - "black upon white" - to the Gibraltarian Status Act, the Gibraltar Parliament and Gibraltar's legislative capacity.

"This is a great achievement for Gibraltar," Mr Picardo said.

"Sir Joe Bossano has already highlighted this at the UN Self Determination Seminar in Grenada. I have highlighted this also in New York last week at the Committee of 24."

"The Opposition now makes the same arguments as the Spanish Government to try to argue that the clear words on the text of the tax treaty do not mean what they clearly say."

"I never thought I would see the GSD stoop so low and side with Spain against Gibraltar on the text of a statement by a Chief Minister to the United Nations. What next?"

Mr Picardo said the treaty would be good for the growth of Gibraltar's international business and said the GSD was being "short sighted in the extreme" in its analysis of the agreement and its effect.

He said the Opposition appeared more concerned with attracting business from Spanish national and Spanish residents and companies.

"We need to be looking beyond Spain and beyond the EU for our sources of business," Mr Picardo said.
"That is what we are doing. Our vision extends beyond the horizon."

"The GSD just seem to think that the only places we can do profitable business is Spain, and to do so in a less than transparent way."

"That is not the future of business, it's not a route to growth and it is not a secure and sustainable way on which to lay the strongest foundations for our future."

"The GSD is stuck in the past and stuck in a world in which doing untransparent business in and with Spain is the be-all and end-all of their economic vision."

"They are worse than wrong and their outlook is dangerously short sighted for Gibraltar, Gibraltarians and Gibraltar businesses."

"Indeed, the GSD seems to have failed to understand that over 90% of all our business is in respect of the UK, UK residents and UK businesses."

"I very much look forward to having a debate in Parliament on the subject of the tax treaty.”

MAIN PHOTO: REUTERS/Jon Nazca