Together Gibraltar says the Government is treating the “citizens of Gibraltar like incapable children.”
A statement from Together Gibraltar follows below:
Together Gibraltar welcomes the Government’s partial disclosure of the dealings taking place in the procurement of lateral flow tests, but would like to highlight the following contradictions:
Government and the Director of Public Health have told the general public that tests should be carried out following strict protocols approved by medical practitioners, and administered by trained medical staff. It states that the tests procured by Government are “high quality.”
In reality, tests are being carried out by students and non-medical staff at the airport rapid test centre. The tests being utilised are being supplied by Basewell Ltd, a cement company, with little or no experience in the procurement of medical supplies. This company, however, enjoys a long-standing and fruitful relationship with Government, having been the recipient of multiple public contracts.
Fabian Picardo’s press release stated that “the Spanish government…heavily subsidise the final price to consumers of these tests for at-home use”.
This statement is completely false. Spain has at no point during the pandemic subsidised lateral flow tests to make them cheaper. What Spain has done is cap the retail price - precisely - to protect the consumer.
Considering the aforementioned contradictions, Together Gibraltar is not satisfied with the explanations given by Government. The party would like to highlight the fact that the deal for the procurement of these tests did not undergo any kind of public tender, and, had TG not raised it, would not have undergone any kind of public scrutiny. The party reminds the people of Gibraltar that the end price that the local population is paying is more than five times what citizens across the border are paying for LFT’s, a test that is free in several other European countries, including the UK until very recently. For Government to be holding on to a technicality (that tests are not sold over the counter) does nothing to protect the Gibraltarian consumer who is paying a ridiculous mark up of 500-800% by the time they get a test done.
As for the accusations on flip-flopping, TG would like to remind the general public that LFT’s are available to purchase over the counter in most countries in the world. Making tests readily available and inexpensive is not a measure that contradicts TG’s policy of strictly following scientific advice and always applying the precautionary principle, on the contrary, it is Public Health Gibraltar that has placed itself against the global scientific consensus on this matter.
TG therefore urges Government to disclose every single detail of the deal, including the initial purchase price paid by Basewell Ltd. It would also like the Government to clarify the benefits of having an agent (essentially a middle-man), and what it means by “quick importation”. Is Basewell Ltd. quicker at importing goods than the GHA itself? Will this service provided (as per the Government’s statement) free of cost, increase Basewell Ltd´s chances of achieving future, more lucrative deals?
Regardless of the clearly improper opacity of these deals, what is undeniable is that the system implemented by Government is simply not working. At £15-20 (the approximate final price of the tests), the people of Gibraltar are being restricted access to what should be another important tool to limit Covid contagion.
By denying them the possibility of self-testing (with tests that are marginally more complex than a pregnancy test), the Government, who has previously praised the public's response to public health measures, is treating the citizens of Gibraltar like incapable children.
TG leader Marlene Hassan Nahon said: "The Chief Minister's tone betrays his state of agitation. The more he repeats his patronising tropes about me not understanding anything, the more nervous he is and walks into his own goals. Let's not forget he did not reveal the identity of the contracted suppliers until he had no choice. The people of Gibraltar deserve honesty, transparency and the decided pursuit of value in the use of public funds, particularly in times of crisis, and they also deserve to be treated like grown ups. I have full confidence in our public's ability to judge whether they believe him or not.”