The Government is not making any money from these tests. We are spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to ensure that our people have as many tests as they need, when they need them FREE OF CHARGE.
Together Gibraltar continue to display a worrying inability to understand basic principles in their deeply flawed analysis of the GHA’s supply of LFTs to private service providers. As usual, the party want to just raise innuendos of impropriety without looking at the underlying, entirely proper, reality of how the GHA is acting to continue to protect the community and provide for our citizens the COVID-19 tests they require FREE AT THE POINT OF DELIVERY.
In basing their entire argument on the availability of LFTs at pharmacies in Spain at a consumer cost of €2.94, Ms Hassan Nahon’s party completely overlook the fact that the Spanish government, similar to other governments worldwide, heavily subsidise the final price to consumers of these tests for at-home use. It is therefore entirely WRONG for Ms Hassan Nahon’s party to assume that tests are available for wholesale purchase and exportation at anywhere near this price. This can’t be compared to the situation in Gibraltar. Ms Hassan Nahon is unsuccessfully comparing apples and pears.
In Gibraltar the GHA purchases LFTs at a cost of £5.40 per test and sells them to permit-holding pharmacies and clinics at cost price.
The GHA is currently supplied by Francisco Navarro, a Commercial Pharmacist based in La Linea, who has supplied the majority of LFTs to the GHA. Basewell Ltd, whose involvement does not increase the price per test at all, is the Gibraltar-based agent that enables quick importation into Gibraltar for the GHA at no additional cost and in order to assist the GHA during the pandemic. Recently, Family Pharmacy have also supplied a small number of LFTs to the GHA to top up stock levels. The GHA is constantly monitoring international wholesale prices for LFTs and will change suppliers if the high quality tests which the GHA procures can be obtained at a reduced price to the taxpayer. (Published prices are often not accurate for whole purchases, as they may already be subject to subsidies paid by other Governments for the benefit of their own citizens and are therefore NOT the price at which a test can be bought wholesale on the open market). The GHA does not make any profit, contrary to Ms Hassan Nahon’s illogical assumptions on the supply of these tests to pharmacies and clinics. What the GHA has done is LIMIT the extra over profit that the pharmacies or clinics can make on the resale of the tests themselves to avoid profiteering – the complete OPPOSITE of what Ms Hassan Nahon is implying.
At the same time, in Gibraltar the GHA additionally also continues to provide a free testing service, encompassing both LFTs and PCRs, to the public at a cost to the taxpayer of in the region of £8 million for last year alone. This is an additional service that the GHA provides the Gibraltar population at low cost and it offers greater security in the tests because of the quality assurance in the testing process. Indeed, this regime is an enhanced version to what is being offered in other countries where they either provide free or subsidised LFTs only and then the population have to self-test. Providing heavily subsidised LFTs to pharmacies, as Ms Hassan Nahon’s party seem to suggest Gibraltar should do in line with other countries, would only serve to further increase the cost of testing to the taxpayer whilst reducing the cost to pharmacies and to those who choose to pay a private service provider instead of taking a free test at the MidTown facility. Additionally, the reliability of data on the incidence of the pandemic would be diluted.
LFTs in Gibraltar are not over-the-counter products and therefore are not captured in the scope of the legislation that covers against profiteering, which was designed to safeguard the public from unreasonable prices on essential products. Private providers that are able to conduct LFTs under a permit incur costs over and above the £5.40 that they pay the GHA for the test kit itself. It is up to the service provider to decide on the price they charge for the service, which the consumer can choose to use or not.
The Director of Public Health has already explained at length the epidemiological reasons behind Gibraltar’ strategy not to make LFTs available over the counter for at-home testing. These are scientific reasons and not political. Ms Hassan Nahon’s party flip flops from wanting to be over cautious about the science to wanting to disregard the advice of the scientists paid by the taxpayer. Such inconsistency on a matter as important as this pandemic is endemic in most of what Ms Hassan Nahon’s party comments on.
The Minister for Health, the Honourable Samantha Sacramento, said: ‘This Government strongly disagrees with the entirely incorrect and improper insinuation from Ms Hassan Nahon’s party that the taxpayer should pay even more for LFTs by way of subsidies so that some can conduct their own tests at home instead of taking a free test at the GHA’s drive through facility. We all hope we are at the tail end of this pandemic and the current, remaining restrictions. Ms Hassan Nahon should consider what is best for Gibraltar as a whole at this stage instead of pandering to the demands of a selfish minority. It is also regrettable that a Parliamentarian completely fails to understand the holistic process and is trying to make political capital by confusing the public with something that she either fails to understand or makes no effort to do so.’