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GSD vows to ‘get a grip’ on public finances

Johnny Bugeja

The GSD has vowed to “get a grip” on Gibraltar’s public finances if elected to government by eradicating “uncertainty” over the level of public debt and implementing its own “radical” programme to ensure transparency and accountability.
The party has estimated the total gross debt in Gibraltar at £1.3 billion and has long voiced concern over the state of Gibraltar’s public finances.
GSD candidate Roy Clinton said it had been his mission to ensure that the Government accounts for every single penny it spends of taxpayers’ money.
Mr Clinton pledged transparency and accountability on public finances from a future GSD Government as he, along with fellow candidates Damon Bossino and Orlando Yeats, set out party proposals on money and business yesterday.
“We will complete the audits of all outstanding companies and liquidate the companies we don’t need,” he told reports at a briefing yesterday.
“I also envisage that we will put in place a debt management plan to reduce the national debt,” Mr Clinton added.
GSD proposals would also see an extension of the powers of the Principle Auditor to include all government corporations, as well as greater independence.
“All these measures together will go a long way to start delivering the transparency in our public finances that we so badly need,” Mr Clinton said.
He added: “It’s very easy to spend money while you’re borrowing and then pretend that you’re not borrowing.”
“All you’re doing is hiding your debt while producing wonderful infrastructure projects but at the end of the day we as a community have to pay for everything.”
Echoing this Mr Bossino said the GSD, if elected to Government, would conduct a number of investigations and audits into Gibraltar’s public finances.
“We need to know how much money is in the kitty, and we need to know how much money we owe in debt,” he said.
BUSINESS
Mr Yeats said the GSD would be putting forward a “very pro-business” manifesto when it launches today.
He explained that conducting business in Gibraltar is difficult, given the amount of “red tape and bureaucracy”, and outlined initiatives to make this easier such as scrapping job creation fees.
Mr Yeats said the GSLP/Liberal administration had failed to deliver on e-government in eight years in office but that the GSD would be “very strong” on implementing this.
The GSD also plans to launch a one-stop shop for all business needs working with the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses on a city centre shopping experience.
“We’re going to scrap the one year social insurance for new businesses and start-ups and focussing on growing the economy rather than the constant borrowing that we see from this government today,” he said.