The allocation and pricing of car parking spaces at the Midtown Car park has been the subject of recent public exchanges between the Opposition and the Government. These public disagreements highlight the need for a Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, where these matters can be properly ventilated, and witnesses examined.
In light of the current lack of such a committee, the shadow Minister for Public Finance, the Hon Roy Clinton will be proposing a motion seeking that one be established for the future but, in the meantime, that Parliament set up a Select Committee to investigate and report on all issues surrounding the construction of, pricing, allocation and sale of spaces at Midtown Car park.
Roy Clinton said:
“I have asked questions of the Chief Minister and the Financial Secretary in no harsher a way than a hearing of a Public Accounts Committee would.
It is important to remember that the Midtown Car Park was a project commissioned and financed by Government, with a developer as an intermediary.
The Chief Minister said the following in respect of car park sales in Parliament on 18 January 2017:
“ It is very simple, Mr Speaker: the company that is doing the sales is not controlled by the Government; it is the Government’s agent and it sells on behalf of the Government, and therefore the revenue accrues to the Government through its agent.”
We know now that the construction of the Midtown Carpark was financed by Government owned Gibraltar Carparks Limited, which then acquired the developer for £2,000 with its remaining £ 14.2 million debt representing the cost of construction net of sale proceeds.
My question to (and not accusation of) the Chief Minister and Financial Secretary was as to “conflict of interest and potential preferential treatment” which arises in their public roles. They have asserted now that, as private citizens, they appear to have benefited from a design change, in which neither was involved in their public capacities.
However, wearing their hats as public officials (with special responsibilities in the area of public finances) they have a duty to maximise the revenue to the public purse from sales. How that was done or any conflict addressed is still not clear. The Chief Minister has stated in Parliament that Government was consulted in setting the prices.
In order to establish all the facts in respect of these matters, I will propose at the next meeting of Parliament that a Select Committee be established to examine fully all issues surrounding and report on the construction, pricing, allocation and sale of spaces at the Midtown Carpark.”