Tenerife casinos look set to remain in public ownership

Tenerife casinos public ownership

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People’s Party councillor Manuel Fernández described the sale of the casinos as “a legal and moral obligation” and said his party would continue to back the privatisation of Tenerife’s three venues despite the failure of the most recent tender.

The privatisation of Tenerife’s three publicly-owned casinos looks increasingly unlikely to go ahead, as the island’s politicians point-fingers as to who is to blame for the failure of the process. The regional minister for finance, Berta Pérez, declared the tender for Casino Playa de las Americas, Casino Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Casino Puerto de la Cruz void in September last year.

She said the complexity of the specifications drafted by the previous government was responsible for the failure of the process, adding that it was “very difficult” for a bidder to fulfil the criteria set out by the island’s finance department.

The government is reportedly in the process of analysing whether to continue with the privatisation of the casinos. Councillor Manuel Fernández, secretary general of the local branch of the People’s Party (PP), characterised the sale of the casinos as both “a legal and moral obligation” for the Island Council of Tenerife given its standing commitment to public sector divestment.

The former president of the Island Council, Carlos Alonso Rodríguez, was the chief architect of the sale which marked the culmination of the regional government’s Plan for the Restructuring and Streamlining of the Public Enterprise Sector, first approved in March 2012.

However, a contentious change of government last July saw the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) under Pedro Martín Domínguez take power and put the sale plans under renewed scrutiny.

Following the decision to declare the tender void, the regionalist Canarian Coalition (CC) accused the PSOE-led Island Council of using a “clause in the tender terms” which requires multiple bidders to move ahead with the privatisation as a pretext to abandon the process.

Fernández observed that “what’s changed” since the election is that Podemos “is now propping up” the island’s government and is strongly opposed to the sale. A previous proposal to privatise Tenerife’s casinos was unveiled in May 2013, while Alonso was serving as Tourism Minister.

While the council moved forward with these plans in 2014, holding a licence tender for Casino Playa de Las Americas, the property failed to attract any bidders, and the sale similarly met with strong resistance from opposition politicians and union officials. Fernández said he hoped the government would have the “political valour” to resume the privatisation process, a decision he affirmed would be supported by the PP

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