Picardo set for last budget before Brexit
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is today expected to deliver “a cautious and prudent” budget as Gibraltar prepares for the countdown to Brexit.
Mr Picardo, who will be delivering his seventh budget as Chief Minister, is expected to report growth in all key areas of the Rock’s economy.
A spokesman for No.6 Convent Place said key indicators including the number of people in employment in the economy will be up.
Conversely, Mr Picardo is expected to report that the number of unemployed people and those actively seeking employment is at a record low.
However the challenges posed by Gibraltar’s withdrawal from the EU will be reflected in the Gibraltar Government’s spending plans for the financial year ahead.
Likewise there will be much attention focused on the Chief Minister’s analysis of GDP and Gibraltar economic performance during the 2017/18 financial year that has just ended, given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit during that time.
“The Chief Minister is expected to deliver a cautious and prudent budget which will nonetheless be ambitious in seeking continued growth and in preparing Gibraltar to be ‘match fit’ when we leave the European Union on the 29th March next year,” the spokesman for No.6 said.
Investment in education, health, housing and sport are expected to feature prominently in the government’s spending plans.
As has happened in previous budgets under the GSLP/Liberals, the minimum wage is expected to continue to rise.
There is also expectation that Social Insurance contributions, which had remained static since 2010 and but were raised for the first time last year, will increase again.
Mr Picardo is expected to report to the House that the underlying fundamentals of the Gibraltar economy and its public finances remain strong, with the Gibraltar Government having finished the year with a cash reserve well in excess of £110m.
But his assessment of the state of public finances will inevitably draw flak from the GSD, which has questioned government spending and financial accountability.
The GSD has also repeatedly urged the government to rein in spending and debt in the face of Brexit, a message it will likely reinforce once again during this week’s budget debate.