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GSD urges ‘prioritised and targeted’ spending after Sir Joe’s warning on public finances

Johnny Bugeja

The GSD has urged the Gibraltar Government to ensure public spending is “prioritised and targeted” after Sir Joe Bossano said Gibraltar was no longer “financially stable.”

Sir Joe was given ministerial responsibility for financial stability earlier this week and made his comment during a GBC interview following his appointment.

The comments were “alarming yet unsurprising” according to the GSD, which underscored its longstanding call for greater transparency of government accounts and spending.

“We have, for the last eight years, been warning the Government that its level of spending and borrowing were out of control,” said Roy Clinton, the GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance.

“Whereas no one could have foreseen the combined economic effects of Covid-19 and Brexit, it is evident that Gibraltar needed a bigger financial cushion than it currently has and its rainy-day funds are insufficient.”

“The £500 million loan facility guaranteed by the UK is only for three years and thus does not give us much room for error if we are to meet our obligations as a community.”

“Spending needs to be prioritised and targeted.”

“In that respect, I note that the Chief Minister in his New Year’s message has already signalled that he will need to abandon some of his manifesto commitments and exceptionally given Sir Joe Bossano additional responsibility for Financial Stability.”

“I urge Sir Joe to make our public finances fully transparent and publish full audited accounts of all Government-owned companies that should be made available free to HM Opposition and make full disclosure of all indirect borrowing commitments and liabilities.”

“In addition, the outstanding three years of supplementary appropriations need to be taken in Parliament so that the Principal Auditor can finish his work and table fresh reports, the last of which was for the year 2015/2016.”

“All this would ensure that when we come to consider the Budget for 2021/22 Parliament can be in possession of all the facts in debating the ‘hard decisions’ that he says will have to be made that will ultimately be borne by the taxpayer and people of Gibraltar in working our way out of this public finance crisis.”

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