FABIAN Picardo has defended his government’s £400,000 loan to the Risso Bakery site developers following harsh criticism from the GSD.
With the general election just two weeks away, the two political parties have been at loggerheads over the development of what some see as a valuable part of Gibraltar’s heritage.
GSD leader Daniel Feetham claimed a ‘secret’ loan was provided by government company Credit Finance using the Gibraltar Savings Bank.
“There is a huge issue with transparency,” Feetham told the Olive Press, adding: “And we shouldn’t be rewarding developers who destroy our heritage with loans.
“If Picardo believes this is right he should, at least, be open and transparent about it.”
However, Picardo has now publicly admitted and defended the loan to private developer Threepwood, which went on to demolish the building, despite opposition from the Heritage Trust.
And he added that the loan had already been paid back ‘with interest’.
“Under this Government, the Savings Bank takes deposits from the public for the purpose of reinvestment, including through fully-secured loans,” he said.
“This is what leads to the high interest rates that the Savings Bank is able to offer to depositors at the same time as making a profit for the reserve.
“It is the GSD who are responsible for the destruction of the old Risso Bakery through their lack of investment in Gibraltar’s heritage.”
He added that this had forced the planning department to determine, at an open public meeting, that the site had to be demolished ‘out of necessity’.