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Govt claims GSD debt speculation ‘is incorrect’

Photo by David Parody

The Gibraltar Government has said it does not agree with the statements made by the GSD regarding the information on public debt provided in answer to questions in Parliament. This comes after the GSD blasted the Government for refusing to provide information in Parliament last week regarding its debt and cash reserves. According to the Government, the questions tabled in Parliament asked for a level of additional detail which has never been asked of, or provided by, any previous government.

The GSD said this week that by refusing to provide answers the Government was preventing the Opposition from doing its job in holding the Government to account and in spotting emerging financial problems.

But a Government statement yesterday insisted: “The aggregate debt figure which the Opposition says it wants is what the GSD has always argued was not important when they were in government.”

“This figure was £447.7 million in March 2015, was forecast to have dropped to £446 million by March 2016, continues at this level and was estimated at the time of the budget session to drop to £442 million by March next year,” said the Government statement.

This is still expected to be the figure at the end of this current financial year, it added.

The 2011 GSLP/Liberal manifesto contained a target figure for the net debt of £300 million for the financial year 2019/20.

The Government said it still stands by this target and expects to meet it.

“The net debt calculation continuous to be done in accordance with the formula provided in the legislation introduced by the GSD government when they decided that aggregate debt did not matter.”

This net debt was £374.5 million on 31 March 2015 was forecast at £345.7 million for 31 March 2016 and is estimated to continue at this level by 31 March 2017.

“This net debt figure is not static however, not because there is an increase in borrowing, but because the level of payments by the government and receipt of revenue constantly changes throughout the period of the month.”

According to the Government there are peak and trough months in the year arising from the ordinary course of government business.

“None of this is an indication that the figures approved in the estimates of expenditure are not being adhered to and therefore has nothing to do with holding the government to account for the public finances,” the Government said.

“The variations in the timing of payments and the receipts of revenue may involve sums of the order of a few million pounds but never of the order of the £200 million flagged by the Opposition as an aside in their statements.”

The Government further dismissed speculation by the Opposition that No. 6 may be planning to increase the aggregate debt by £200 million as “incorrect”.

Figures in the estimates made at budget are and continue to be the expected level, it said.

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