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GSD renews questions on Govt debt move

The GSD has renewed its attack on the Gibraltar Government’s handling of public finances, describing as “nonsense” the explanation it gave for plans to increase the public debt limit.

At a press conference at GSD headquarters yesterday, party leader Daniel Feetham accused the Government of redefining the formula for calculating the debt ceiling, or how much the Government can legally borrow. Mr Feetham was flanked by all GSD MPs save for Edwin Reyes who is currently away from Gibraltar.

The attack echoes the GSD’s campaign in the run up to the 2015 general election but Mr Feetham stressed that these arguments were not canvassed at the time.

“These amendments were published for the first time on December 24,” he said.

“Either the Government knew all along during the general election that they were going to introduce these amendments on how to calculate that debt ceiling and they didn’t come clean with the electorate…or alternatively something has happened since the last election that has necessitated the Government making these amendments.”

“If it’s the second, then it’s serious and the Government should come clean as to what has happened.”

Picardo surprised by GSD response

Plans to increase the public debt limit would make the borrowing arrangement more in keeping with international criteria and more manageable, the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said.

In an interview with GBC yesterday Mr Picardo said he was surprised that the Opposition had effectively challenged the Bill before hearing the government’s reasoning.

He told the broadcaster that the move is designed to solidify Gibraltar’s economic foundations, and does not relate to any issue or problem, asserting that “everything is going to plan and (is) on target”.

Mr Picardo stressed that net debt will be at £314 million by the end of the financial year as per the GSLP/Liberal’s manifesto commitment.

Explaining the proposals Mr Picardo said the link to recurrent revenue will remain, but with respect to the cost of servicing the borrowing net debt would not exceed 8% of the government’s recurrent revenue.

He added that there has been “no unexpected fluctuation in income” in recent months. There should therefore be nothing of concern in the plans to the way public debt is capped, Mr Picardo indicated.

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