Picardo to deliver ‘prudent’ budget with an eye on Brexit
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is expected to deliver “a prudent, cautious budget” in Parliament this morning, keeping an eye on Brexit even while he insists Gibraltar’s economy has performed well over the past year.
Mr Picardo’s sixth budget statement will focus on positive economic indicators and continued market confidence in Gibraltar despite a year of international political upheaval and uncertainty.
Today’s budget session comes just over 12 months since the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, dragging the Rock with it too despite this community’s overwhelming support for Remain.
Gibraltar has proved resilient so far but with the potential impact of Brexit yet to be felt, the budget is likely to be tempered in both tone and scope.
It will the follow the pattern set by last year’s budget, when the Chief Minister warned of the “seismic” effects of Brexit on Gibraltar and the need for restraint in public spending.
“Caution and prudence are expected to mark Mr Picardo's approach to budget measures as the impact of Brexit may yet be to come,” a government spokesman said.
“It’s not going to be a giveaway budget in any way, shape or form.”
The Chief Minister will highlight solid indicators including a record 27,063 jobs in the economy, an increase of 3.6% compared to 2015, according to the employment survey published last week. He will also highlight a 2.4% year-on-year rise in average earnings to £28,751.62.
“More jobs in the economy than ever means higher tax revenue than ever, leading to an optimistic picture being told not by the narrative of politicians but by the reality of the numbers being reported to the Parliament,” the government spokesman said.
Mr Picardo is also expected to point to a reduction in public debt, something which is certain to draw flack from the GSD which continues to be concerned about government spending and financial accountability.
Last year the GSD urged the government to rein in spending and debt in the face of Brexit challenges, a message it will likely reinforce once again during this week’s budget debate.