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25th May 2023, 20:38

​Port Authority charged £917,697 less than legally obliged to for usage of Eastern Anchorage in 2016, 2017 & early 2018

Published by GBC News

The Port Authority charged £917,697 less than they were legally obliged to for usage of the Eastern Anchorage in 2016, 2017 and early 2018.

The Principal Auditor said the Port Authority did not fully discharge its financial duties and obligations in law.

The GSD has expressed concern at the loss of revenue. The Government has argued fewer vessels would have stopped in the Eastern Anchorage without this scheme.

Tonnage Dues are charges paid by a vessel operator for using the port, normally calculated on the net registered tonnage of the ship.

According to a report by the Principal Auditor, tabled in Parliament this week, the Captain of the Port, Bob Sanguinetti, was asked by Port clients to charge a flat rate instead - £100 per day for vessels anchoring on the east side.

Mr Sanguinetti applied this discounted rate from August 2015 to January 2018.

The Principal Auditor, Tony Sacramento, says he’s sure the Captain of the Port thought the move would incentiviseeconomic activity, but says the scheme was effectively, illegal.

The Principal Auditor expresses grave concern at the resulting loss of revenue over 30 months. Mr Sacramento says there were no performance indicators from the shipping agents to show the initiative had generated additional economic activity.

The discount scheme is said to have stopped immediately after Mr Sanguinetti’s successor, Manuel Tirado, took office. Mr Tirado had reportedly advised against the initiative when he was Deputy Captain of the Port.

The GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance, Roy Clinton says the loss of revenue should not have been possible if strict financial controls were in place. Mr Clinton believes the “late tabling” of the Principal Auditor’s report for 31 March 2016 “does not allow proper Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of such an important issue that is now old”.

Mr Clinton says Gibraltar needs to manage and control our public finances better, claiming the GSLP-Liberal government does not consider it a priority to safe guard the public purse.

The Government has stressed the Principal Auditor’s report concludes that “... undoubtedly the move by the Captain was done in the best economic interests of Gibraltar”.

The Office of the Minister for the Port claims most, if not all of the vessels paying the discounted fees would not have stayed in the Eastern Anchorage at all were it not for the introduction of this scheme.

The Port Ministry says it is simply untrue to quote these figures as ‘loss of revenue’... despite the fact that it is not just the GSD who describe it as such, but also the Principal Auditor.

The Port Minister Vijay Daryanani accuses the GSD of cherry-picking only the figures that he wants to project.

GBC has asked the Government to comment on the Principal Auditor’s conclusion that the discount scheme was “outside the Provisions of the law”.