Well now, the Chief Minister claims that the GSD is the party for socialists in Gibraltar. Well either socialism has now been redefined (a favourite method of spin used by Mr Caruana) or I have had it wrong all my life. I really do not see where the GSD budget measure deals with the criticism (now also levelled at him by the PDP) that his budget does little or nothing for those who are really in need.
There again those in real need have no power as the number of votes amongst them is minimal. The GSD should not forget that we in Gibraltar are empathetic and kind people with a generous heart and, whilst we like to be better off ourselves, we do think of the plight of others and like that they be looked after too.
Once again Mr Caruana falls back on the age old arguments of making comparisons with the past. Historical comparisons are odious for many reasons, but not least because circumstances, for example, economic circumstances change, so a government is limited or enabled by reigning circumstances at any given juncture. Look at what is happening in the UK now, cuts and more cuts in government expenditure. Is this because the Conservative Government wants to make them or because circumstances require these cuts to be made?
The pre-1996 GSLP Government were faced with massive reductions in employment due, for example, to reductions in military spending in Gibraltar. Despite these challenges, they were able to change the face of Gibraltar (leaving aside the age old argument about tobacco smuggling and moral decline, which are criticisms that, although well made, are getting very stale now) for the better and lay the foundations for the GSD's success. Also do not forget the Spanish Pensions issue that could have had disastrous effects on Gibraltar's economy. What would the GSD have done faced with the economic problems that the GSLP were faced with and were able to overcome overcame?
It is easy to spend money when it is available. It is not so easy to create wealth. I trust and hope that the GSD predictions that Gibraltar has avoided the worst of the recession faced by other countries is based on fact and not fantasy. Time will tell but I see a few dark clouds on the horizon. It is then that the mettle of any government can be seen and measured.
The measure for the GSD Budget is not the past. One measure by which the GSD Budget needs to be judged is whether it is fair and proportionate in the circumstances that reign today. A question that should be asked and answered by each individual is, has the GSD allocated money wisely? Another is, are the revenue raising measures fair?
I have dealt with some of these issues in my earlier blog, but, by way of examples, is allocating money to office development (also having short-sightedly used up office space for a hospital) and to the construction of an oversized air terminal wise spending? If it is not, then that expenditure could have been allocated, in part, to social services to enable them to deliver a more focused and individualised solution to people in need and in part to reduce increases in municipal charges. To raise municipal charges is also not a fair method of raising revenue. It is an expenditure that is forced on people and business irrespective of the level of earnings or profits. A fair (and so more socialist) distribution is achieved through proportionate taxation of direct income.
For someone who decries spin, Mr Caruana, has spun his budget to the utmost degree. His attacking spirit is not abated. No one can be right about anything if he has not done it. To boot he announces the appointment of Clive Golt as the Government's Media Director. To think back on what each has done or said to or about the other both in public and in private leaves one gob smacked. Is this the epitome of spin or what? Let's hope the pressure of working with each other is not too great for one or other of them.