The GSD has accused the Gibraltar Government of ‘erecting a smokescreen’ on the issue of tobacco smuggling so as to detract from the GSLP’s wider track record in the area.
This comes after the Government was forced to defend its record on tobacco smuggling following criticism from the GSD who had highlighted how the activity was taking place in broad daylight and just metres away from Waterport Terraces where children were playing.
But in a statement yesterday the GSD said the Government’s comments on the subject display an “unsurprising defensiveness because of the wider GSLP track record on the issue”.
Highlighting the “brazen act of smuggling” depicted in a video posted to social media by GSD MP Trevor Hammond, the GSD underscored that measures need to be taken to curb and eradicate such acts.
The GSD therefore welcomed the Government’s statement to the extent that it states that it is committed to this agenda and that the move of Customs house will help in dealing with this issue.
“However for the Government to refer to the “bad old days of the GSD” because there may or may not have been more Customs seizures in 2010 than in 2016 for example is political blindness if not an attempt to erect a smokescreen on the wider GSLP’s own track record,” it said.
“The issue is not whether the comparative seizure records between the present administration and the previous one of Peter Caruana in his latter years as Chief Minister are better.”
“The issue is where Gibraltar was when the GSD was elected. Or have we forgotten the Gibraltar that the GSD was tasked with administering in 1996?”
Mr Hammond’s reference to the “bad old days” was a plain and simple reference to that Gibraltar pre-1996, the GSD said adding that the GSLP cannot airbrush that history away.
“It is impossible to ask people to forget the daily and brazen fast launch activity of the period or the general culture of lawlessness that prevailed or the riots of 1995 or the mass demonstration that followed because Gibraltar was in social crisis,” the party said.
It is also impossible for the GSLP to pretend it was not in office at the time, the GSD added.
“That is why the Government’s attempt to distract from the GSLP’s own wider track record in office is disappointing.”
Mr Hammond’s post was a plea that Gibraltar does not return to that past.
“It is a pure fact that the GSLP were in office at the time.”
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “The GSD is glad the present Government is committed to an anti-smuggling agenda as the GSD always has been. The GSD will support that work.”
“During its time in office – especially during the first term – the GSD took massive steps to put a stop to that activity. Police and Customs were supported throughout the GSD terms of office.”
“The GSD will continue to be tough on crime and unapologetic about raising this issue or any hard issue of the day.”