Government Should Not Risk Savers’ Money To Fund Football Or Opaque Commercial Deals Says Together Gibraltar
Following the Government’s reply to their questions regarding the new GFA stadium, Together Gibraltar says they are “dismayed” by the Government's response.
A statement from Together Gibraltar follows below:
It has been opaque and deliberately sketchy when presenting the deal, it has not properly explained the detail when prompted by opposition parties, and it is now using dubious arguments to convince the people of Gibraltar that this is the right way to use massive public funds levied by the GSB – an institution many Gibraltarians have entrusted with their hard-earned savings.
The Government’s PR states, in a nutshell, that Mr. Bossano knows best and should not have to clarify further. With many businesses struggling and the Brexit issue still unresolved, the public are expected to take on trust that the government should put their savings at risk with no further elaboration. This is especially worrying at a time of great uncertainty in global markets, rampant inflation, and impending recession across western nations.
The Chief Minister is telling us we should support this initiative because it is “good for football”. Together Gibraltar, however, believes that GSB funds should be invested in a way that is good for the savings of the Gibraltarians, not football. Why should the return on this investment be “small but meaningful”? What does “meaningful” mean in the context of providing a loan for a business project? The government needs to stop treating the public as fools, and refrain from using Orwellian language in reference to this deal. There is no “sponsorship,” and there is no such thing as meaningful or meaningless profits in a business loan. This is a business loan, and a simple issue of pounds, pence and profits.
Government has also provided zero justification as to why the stadium requires a capacity of 8000 when the current stadium hardly sells out for the most attractive international matches, let alone local games. From a sporting point of view, an excessively large stadium that appears empty does not contribute to create an attractive footballing spectacle, on the contrary, it dampens the moods of crowds and frustrates supporters.
Also baffling is why the proposed retail and housing units will be owned and managed by a football association. If these developments are such a good investment as to warrant public "sponsorship", they should remain within government ownership or be put out to tender as is normal for any publicly funded development.
Together Gibraltar are not opposed to investing in our community but it believes that such an exorbitant investment should have come in a way that is forthcoming, transparent and after consultation and public debate. At a time in which public services are being slashed, basic infrastructures are either non-existent (like the promised sewage treatment plant) or in disrepair (roads, housing estates, touristic infrastructure), and the housing list continues to grow, the least this Government could do is consult the community on what its priorities are. Instead, what we’re seeing is more of the typical lack of transparency with a new, largely unknown network of companies already embedded in the deal.
That the government considers this investment zero-risk is irresponsible, and testament to their arrogance. To pretend they can simply avoid scrutiny because this investment is about football and has the green light from Sir Joe is an insult to this community.