GSD highlights Gibraltar’s ‘frankly embarrassing’ lack of Public Accounts Committee
Gibraltar’s lack of a Public Accounts Committee made the Rock “stand out as failing in this vital area of public finance scrutiny” at last week’s UK Overseas Territories Forum on Oversight of Public Finances and Good Governance, the GSD has said.
The virtual forum was attended by Sir Joe Bossano, the Minister for Economic Development, and Roy Clinton, the GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance and Value for Money, as well as officials from the Gibraltar Audit Office.
But Gibraltar is the only Overseas Territory not to have a Public Accounts Committee in its Parliament and this is “frankly embarrassing”, Mr Clinton said.
“It is frankly embarrassing that Gibraltar still does not have a Public Accounts Committee to follow up the findings of the Principal Auditor and examine how well public funds have been spent,” Mr Clinton said in a statement.
“We are the only UK Overseas Territory not to have one, and size is not an excuse when much smaller territories such as St Helena and the Falkland Islands have them.”
“At this time in which our public finances are under extreme pressure we need to ensure that value for money is delivered in all areas.”
‘This means having a Public Accounts Committee that is not looking at Government policy, but at how it has been implemented in terms of spending in the most economic, efficient and effective manner which is the definition of value for money.”
Mr Clinton referred to the UK Overseas Territories good practice guide, which states: “An effective PAC is vital to the transparency of, and accountability for, public expenditure.”
“This GSLP/Liberal Government cannot pretend that they are somehow protecting Civil Servants or other employees as it suggests in its 2019 manifesto by not agreeing to the creation of a Public Accounts Committee,” Mr Clinton added.
“The GSLP/Liberals are avoiding vital financial scrutiny in the spending of public money, which begs the question why?”
“At the forum an updated Guide to ‘Good Practice in effective oversight of public finances in the UK Overseas Territories’ was issued, which includes a checklist for compliance.”
“It is evident that the GSLP/Liberals would also fail in many of the general principles governing conduct of public business that are so important in maintaining trust in Government and the use of public money.”
“The GSLP/Liberal mantra on not having a Public Accounts Committee is not just wrong in the matter of good practice but damaging to the exercise of scrutiny and oversight of our public finances by both our Principal Auditor and Parliament.”
“This requires a change in attitude from the top and the recognition that Government spends public money on trust and needs to be transparent and open to scrutiny in all its aspects. Something the GSLP/Liberals promised but continue to fail to deliver.”