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Typical of Mr Picardo’s style of politics he accuses others of lying when they present facts. The presentation of issues by the Government is Orwellian.
It is a fact that Mr Picardo has given Mr Pyle a job. It is also a fact that Mr Pyle was the Governor in 2020, was central to what happened with Mr McGrail and was a core participant in those events. It is a fact that the Inquiry will look into those events. It is a fact that Mr Picardo is accused of wrongdoing by a party to that Inquiry. It is a fact that the evidence of Mr Pyle will be extremely relevant in the Inquiry. It is a fact that the Inquiry has not yet heard the case or investigated the issues. It is also a fact that despite the engagement of Mr Pyle to advise on civil service reform the Civil Service Union, the GGCA, were completely unaware of the appointment.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi, said: “All those things are facts. The engagement of Mr Pyle in the above circumstances is just weird and inappropriate. The problem is that Mr Picardo did not think through the implications of his actions, the perception he would create and whether that appointment was appropriate or inappropriate. He is blinded by a sense of political survival and not by a sense of what is right and proper. Is that the kind of leader for this community that we want?
We repeat that if the equivalent happened in the United Kingdom a serving Prime Minister would come under massive criticism for having given a job to someone who was central to events subject to an Inquiry in which the Prime Minister himself is accused of wrongdoing when the Inquiry had not yet heard the case.
If there is anyone who has a track record of spin, lies and half-truths it is Mr Picardo himself. The People will judge whether it is time to show him the door at the next election. What is ‘disgusting’ is his ‘anything goes’ type of politics, where truth does not matter and where he thinks he can get away with anything. We will continue to call things out as they are.”
Job for ex-Deputy Governor Nick Pyle Inappropriate
The engagement by the Government of former Deputy Governor Nick Pyle is completely inappropriate while the McGrail inquiry is pending. The Chief Minister has revealed he is being paid £80/hour or in other words a rate that would amount to over £155,000 if he were to work full-time for a year. That would be on a higher scale than even the head of the Civil Service, the Chief Secretary, is paid.
Mr Pyle was Acting Governor in 2020 and like the Chief Minister is one of the core participants in the circumstances that led to the early retirement of the former Commissioner of Police, Mr McGrail. Extremely grave allegations have been fielded in that case about misconduct and that raise issues about the independence of the police. Those issues have yet to be considered or explored by the Inquiry Chairman.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi, said: “For Mr Pyle to be given a job to advise on civil service training & reform in the meantime is staggering. He is not a known expert on civil service training or reform. He is not a member of the Gibraltar civil service. He is not an expert on Gibraltar public services or public sector administration. Why is he being employed at all? This simply looks like the Chief Minister giving him a job to keep him sweet while difficult issues are being looked at. Imagine the scandal in the United Kingdom if a serving Prime Minister gave a job to someone who, together with him, was central to the facts of an Inquiry in which the Prime Minister was accused of wrongdoing before that case had even been heard. It would be inconceivable and would receive public condemnation if it did happen. It looks really bad. It appears from the answers Mr Picardo gave in Parliament that he is oblivious to those issues. He apparently thinks anything goes, however it looks.”
Government Admits Port Rules were Broken
In accusing the GSD of cherry picking the Principal Auditor’s report on the Gibraltar Port Authority for the financial year 31 March 2016, the Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani has not only admitted the unauthorised scheme but goes on to display a shocking lack of understanding of the fact that the Principal Auditor has stated that the Port Authority had in effect partially failed in its financial duty.
Roy Clinton MP the GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance stated the following:
“While I can understand Minister Daryanani’s knee jerk desire to defend his Ministry he seems to have completely missed the point raised by the Principal Auditor and the implications for public finance.
The point is simply that the scheme was ‘outside the provisions of the law’ and neither approved by Parliament nor thus in extension his Government. No individual within Government or any agency has the power to offer discounts not provided for in law, they are not running a private business.
If the Minister read the report further he would come across the following observation by the Principal Auditor:
‘I am gravely concerned at the loss of Government revenue resulting …particularly because the pilot scheme, although well intentioned, was ran over a protracted period of 30 months without there being any performance indicators or feedback from shipping agents to show that the initiative had generated additional economic activity in other sectors.’
Furthermore the then Deputy Captain of the Port ‘had always advised against the initiative’.
The role of the Principal Auditor is to ensure all matters relating to public finance are in accordance with the
law and in this case he has correctly brought this incident to the attention of Parliament.
The Government needs to take the Principal Auditor’s qualified report with the seriousness it deserves and accept the points raised. Furthermore the lateness of the tabling of the report before Parliament has not been addressed. If the Minister cannot understand any of this then he only reinforces my assertion that this Government does not know what the management of public finance is about. “
£1 million Revenue Loss at Gibraltar Port Authority
The report of the Principal Auditor on the accounts of the Gibraltar Port Authority for the financial year ended 31 March 2016 were tabled in Parliament this week. The Principal Auditor in his certificate to Parliament has stated by way of exception that ‘the Gibraltar Port Authority did not fully discharge its financial duties and obligations in accordance with the provisions of the Gibraltar Port Authority Act 2005’. This resulted in an eventual loss of revenue of close to £1 million.
Roy Clinton MP the GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance stated the following:
“The Principal Auditor’s certificate, which is dated 21 January 2021, includes a detailed report that indicates that over three financial years from 2015 to 2018 the Gibraltar Port Authority under collected revenue by an amount of £ 917,697. This was as a result of the discounting of rates on the Eastern Anchorage ‘without there being any legal provision under the Port Rules to award such a discounted fee’.
This loss of revenue, at which the Principal Auditor expresses grave concern, goes to the heart of the control of public finances in two ways, firstly this should not have been possible if strict financial controls were in place and secondly the late tabling of the Principal Auditor’s report for 31 March 2016 does not allow proper Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of such an important issue that is now old.
I fear that this is just but one example of the malaise that has infected the management of Gibraltar’s public finances since the GSLP/Liberals took office in 2011. We need to manage and control our public finances better and this Government evidently does not consider it a priority to safe guard the public purse. “
The GSD have been made aware of the almost impossible task of obtaining from local pharmacies and the GHA Pharmacist. auto-injectors which can offer those with severe allergies access to self-administered instant emergency medical treatment.
Allergies to foods, such as some nuts, fish, eggs and fruit as well as bee stings and other medicines have been known to cause anaphylactic shock. It is understood that 1 in 100 people experience allergic reactions and a small number will go on to develop anaphylaxis.
EpiPens, as they are known, provide adults and children with severe allergies significant reassurance, that in circumstances where they are experiencing the initial signs of anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, they can avoid a serious and potentially life-threatening medical emergency. The GSD understands that the incidence of anaphylaxis is relatively low and can be dealt at Hospital and other first responders as a medical emergency with the administration of an injection of adrenaline. However, the advice from the NHS is that those at risk should carry EpiPens on their person at all times with no exceptions.
The Shadow Minister for Health and the Environment, Elliott Phillips MP said:
“ The GSD have been informed that local pharmacies are either not stocking or dispensing epi-pens and neither does the GHA Pharmacist have a ready stock to dispense to those at risk. We are unaware as to whether the decision to restrict or deny this treatment arises in the context of the internal audit and review on medicines and dispensing in Gibraltar or for other reasons. The GSD call on the Government to confirm the position given the unease that this is causing those with limited or no supply of EpiPens and the obvious risk that this present to those with severe allergies
Parliament is scheduled to meet on Thursday 18th May 2023 at 3.00pm. Roy Clinton MP has tabled the questions listed below in the link.