The GSD said it was “dismayed” at the Gibraltar Government’s suggestion that catering establishments were seeking to “profit at the expense of the taxpayer” in seeking additional assistance during the Covid-19 crisis.
In a statement to the press, Roy Clinton, the GSD’s spokesman for Public Finances, said that while the GSD recognises that not all jobs and businesses can be protected from the effects of a global pandemic, it is “unhelpful” to put forward such accusations.
He was reacting following recent exchanges between the Gibraltar Government and the Gibraltar Catering Association, which said many of its members were facing “a cliff edge” this winter and would need additional assistance to survive.
Mr Clinton said: “The Covid-19 crisis is causing hardship across the private sector, however it is evident that the hospitality sector is being hardest hit due to health restrictions and the downturn in tourism.”
“Until now via the medium of CELAC, all sectors have been able to provide input to Government in designing its BEAT measures.”
“We have been critical of BEAT 2.0 in that it did not target the retention of employees and now with the poorly advertised BEAT 3.0 we see that only 20% support is to be offered for the months of October and November.”
“Whereas we recognise that not all jobs and businesses can be protected from the effects of Covid, it is unhelpful to accuse a sector of attempting to profit at the expense of the taxpayer at a time of crisis.”
The GSD said the Government needs to work with all sectors to “provide as much support as is allowable under state aid rules but must also display a willingness to listen.”
“The Government should also recognise that unlike other sectors bars and restaurants are being told they can only service customers at 50% capacity,” Mr Clinton said.
“While this may be for good public health reasons no other business sector is suffering such trade restrictions and therefore they are deserving of special consideration.”
“Lawyers, estate agents or insurance salesmen are not being told by Government they can only see half their clients.”
“If it is a question of saving the long-suffering taxpayer from unscrupulous profiteering the finger might be more usefully be pointed elsewhere.”