The Government has finally admitted that it has abandoned its unequivocal manifesto pledge to match £ for £ and has instead capped its BID contribution at £250,000 per annum.
Roy Clinton the GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance and Small Business stated:
“It is remarkable that the Minister for Business did not see it fit to tell the business community during the BID presentation in September 2020, at which he was present, that in his mind the Government’s contribution was always to be capped at £250,000 per annum. It is evident from the GBC report and interviews that not only was the BID district already defined at that time to include side streets, but that the BID levy was £400,000 which the Government was expected to match “doubling your investment” according to the presentation slides. It is obvious from the interviews with business people that they believed that the Government would be matching the £400,000 on an annual basis. In a Government press release on the day Minister Daryanani said that “The Government is financially committed to supporting this project on a pound for pound basis….I would like to reassure everyone that the Government fully supports the Main Street BID, especially during these tough times.” He said that while standing in front of a backdrop that clearly indicated that HM Government of Gibraltar would be making pound for pound matched funding. It is also remarkable that in Parliament in July 2020 the Minister maintained that he was 100% committed to pound for pound assistance.
The Minister has in now watering down the Government’s commitment betrayed the business community and undermined the idea that the BID was a shoulder to shoulder partnership effort. This was presented and is an important project to regenerate the retail hub of the city centre. His lame attempt at justification for abandoning the commitment by focusing on the leisure, hospitality and retails sectors is just a simple red herring as the fact that the project extended to the side streets and not just Main Street was known in September when he attended the presentation. He also risks alienating those office businesses outside these sectors which he still expects to cough up half of the voluntary levy. It would be more honest for the Government to simply say it can no longer afford its original commitment or that it is unwilling to invest in the city centre as it said it would. Frankly though this is a short-sighted policy as this is the kind of project we should get behind so we are well-placed when we emerge from the COVID pandemic.
I look forward to debating the forthcoming BID Bill in Parliament especially as regards who exactly is entitled to vote in this process and who is exempt from the levy.”
Notes to Editors GBC Report of 3 September 2020 can be found at
https://www.gbc.gi/news/business-owners-launch-plan-invigorating-main-street-surrounding-area-government-support-hope-raise- Government Supports Launch of Business Plan for Main Street Business Improvement District – 595/2020 (gibraltar.gov.gi)