The Chief Minister has hit back at GSD leader Keith Azopardi's comments on the new development Victoria Keys, saying the party is trying to "hide its rotten property deals".
A statement from the Government said:
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, responded to Mr Keith Azopardi's statement on Victoria Keys as follows:
‘Mr Azopardi's press release on the magnificent Victoria Keys Garden City development shows he is trying to hide the GSD's rotten property deals which the current GSLP/Liberal Government has put right as a result of some tough re-negotiations.
‘The reason the Government had no choice butto negotiate directly with the consortium ofVictoria Keys developers is that the GSD had already given Coaling Island to some of the members of the consortium by direct allocation without any tender process.
‘A part of the relevant site was also subject to a claim against the GSD Government by the owners of the Head Lease of Queensway Quay as a result of the GSD's transaction when developing the new Yacht Club.
‘Despite Mr Azopardi's bluster, it was the GSD who were the ones who gave out these sites by direct allocation without tender. It is no use Mr Azopardi now seeking to pervert history as the record can speak for itself.
‘It was the GSD who tied the hands of future Governments of Gibraltar and so, in the best interests of the tax payer, I have had to find a way to force people to come to the negotiating table.
‘It should also be noted that the new partners in the development company were not brought in by the Government, but by the developers to whom the GSD had originally given the land.
These people are all investors in other established Gibraltar developments, including in the MidTown Development, which was another development which the GSD granted by direct allocation and without tender!
‘I had to undo the GSD's MidTown transaction in order to get back one third of the plot, and, as a result, we have been able to make major improvements to the area.
In line with our economic strategy, we have provided a coach park to bring tourists right into the centre of town, we have announced further beautification of the area by means of a stunning new park and we have reduced the height of the development’s main towers.
Every one of these initiatives is an improvement for our community.
In terms of the Victoria Keys development, the financial returns for the Government are probably the best ever agreed in our history and the GSLP/Liberals deserve the credit for that.‘Gibraltar’s taxpayers will not pay for the reclamation and nor do they carry the risk of carrying out the works, but they do get 50% of the land, for nothing, at the end of it.‘This is a great deal for the taxpayer and it is the GSLP/Liberals who deserve the credit for that, something Mr Azopardi obviously does not like.
‘Additionally, we are lending the developers the money for them to carry out the reclamation and we are making a commercial rate of interest as a result.
The GSLP/Liberals deserve all the credit for this excellent deal.
‘Making something for everyone in our community, including the worse off, from the profit of the better off is a principle I am happy to be associated with.
This is therefore probably the best return the Government of Gibraltar has ever made on any transaction.
We, the GSLP/Liberal Government have driven a hard bargain, but I am proud of what we have achieved and additionally, we are able to use the land for good social causes.
Today, Mr Azopardi is left covered in GSD mud. He deserves that it should be directly allocated to him without tender, as his party did with the land in question!
Mr Azopardi seems to think that he can model himself on some evil Sheriff of Nottingham, trying to stop us from getting a great deal for the taxpayer to protect the GSD's twisted, rotten deals.Well he can't and he won't!
Moreover, it would appear that Mr Azopardi is defending the GSD’s granting of land at Coaling Island, for nothing, to a GSD supporter who had previously sold to another developer for millions. That is a scandal of the highest order. Mr Azopardi's law firm, Triay Stagnetto Neish, is representing that party and Mr Azopardi is clearly trying to use his precarious political position to further his firm's client's interests. That is a clear, unequivocal and improper conflict of interests and one that Mr Azopardi has perversely failed to declare when making his statement. I want the whole electorate to know the true details of the GSD’s continuing deception and of their barefaced effrontery in attacking the Government on this issue.