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Govt counters GSD's claims on public finances

File photo dated 26/01/18 of money, as the Bank of England is expected to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.5% next week, but the meeting will be watched closely amid expectations over another hike in May. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday March 18, 2018. See PA story ECONOMY Rates. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The GSD is "trapped in a continuous negative and destructive spiral" and, in raising concerns about Gibraltar's public finances, is complaining about issues that have already been tackled and practices that were used and encouraged by the GSD itself, the Gibraltar Government yesterday.

No.6 Convent Place was reacting after the GSD repeated its well-known concerns about public finances and set out a pledge for greater transparency and accountability if elected into government.

"It is obvious that the Opposition are becoming more and more desperate with every passing week," the government said.

"They have little positive or new to offer are appear to be trapped in a continuous negative and destructive spiral."

"The majority of the areas that they are complaining about in relation to public finance have already been tackled or were practices which they initiated, practiced and encouraged themselves."

"It's a case of 'do as I say not as I do'."

The GSD had urged tighter budgetary control and said Gibraltar should not spend more than it generates.

It is also concerned that channelling capital projects through publicly-owned companies distorts that real level of debt by keeping major expenditure off the government's books.

But in reply, the government said the budget debate showed there was a record surplus for the year and that "there is more money coming in than going out".

"It was the GSD Government that instituted the practice of channelling millions of pounds for Government projects through a company structure," the government said.

"The problem was that instead of repaying the money, as is being done now, the GSD left a £100 million hole of debt in company finances."

"The projects where this money has been spent are visible for the public to see all over Gibraltar."

"The costs of the projects are announced at the time of the tender awards or in answer to questions."

The government said there was more financial information in the public domain now than at any time before in the history of Gibraltar.

This includes the publication of relevant economic figures on-line by the government without the Opposition even needing to ask, it said.

There government added too that it already had in place "a clear programme" aimed at the management and reduction of public debt.

There is also a similar programme to build up the reserves of Gibraltar, which the government said "were squandered by the GSD" the last time the party was in office.

"The Government is already motivated by prudence in public finances," No.6 said, responding to specific GSD complaints.

"The Government is already committed, in close consultation with the Unions, to end waste in the public sector."

"The Government always welcome and invite scrutiny. Indeed, this is the whole point of the budget debate."

According to No.6, the Opposition was "very lazy" during the recent budget session.

"They were faced with over 240 pages of detailed financial information, a breakdown of Government revenue and expenditure," it said in a statement.

"This represented £676,000,000.00 of spending which the Opposition completely ignored and failed to properly scrutinise. In the Budget debate they asked very few questions indeed when they had the opportunity to do so."

The government added too that public contracts were already properly awarded and supervised, with the larger contracts being subject to EU procurement law.