Sunday, 10 July 2011

Budget Observations

I have been accused recently of criticising the Chief Minister ("CM") over form rather than substance on the subject of the budget and his speech. I make no apology for doing so. I believe that form, especially form and behaviour that has the characteristics that I have highlighted, is of extreme importance. It is different aspects of the behaviour of our politicians that gives an insight into their character such as enables the electorate to make a choice as to what type of individuals they wish to elect into Parliament and to potentially be a chief minister.

I felt it more important to prioritise that debate whilst it was fresh in people's mind rather than deal with substantive aspects of the budget about which we are reminded throughout the year because of the recurrent nature of budget details, as money is raised and spent. It is also a question of demands on my time. I have now had the time to dedicate to substantive issues on the recent budget.

Clearly the GSD government have had a budget strategy for many years that has delivered tax cuts and increased public expenditure, capital aspects of which have been funded in part by borrowings. This strategy has been highly beneficial to date but could have been improved if the Opposition had been more focused in its criticisms. Tax reductions are always welcome but they can only be welcome by those who are earning taxable income.

It is the responsibility of governments also to protect and help the less fortunate minorities that do not benefit from tax cuts because for whatever reasons, they cannot earn taxable income. I believe that there is massive room to look into how our social cases are financed. A root and branch reform of those could deliver more and better help at a lower cost and avoid abuses that exist today. They are the partly forgotten few in most budgets because helping them does not significantly improve the votes any party receives.

Has it been a good budget? Undoubtedly it has good aspects but that does not mean it is rendered free of criticisms. The opposite is also true, that because aspects can be criticised, it does not mean it is a bad budget. It means that either it can be improved on or that someone else would have done things differently.

One aspect that I always find odd is that there is a tendency to confuse the budget (government revenues and expenditure) with the economy. They are two very different things. Undoubtedly the budget impacts on the economy, to the extent that tax measures and government expenditure stimulate or stifle the economy. The opposite is also true, without a buoyant private economy there will be nothing to tax because profits and employment dry up. It is an aspect that is so frequently forgotten by governments, namely that the private sector and its success is what renders a government successful in the economy.

It is worth analysing the boasts of the GSD Government bearing the private sector in mind. Economic growth is driven by private sector entrepreneurship. The CM made the statement that "... the government is proud of its economic record". I beg to differ. It is the private sector that should be proud of Gibraltar's economic record not any government. Governments influence the ability of the private sector to deliver economic growth and create the environment within which it can do so. In this context it is always good to remember that a government's room to manoeuvre is limited by the parameters needed by the private sector to function, without a functioning private sector there is no economy from which tax revenues can be raised.

Gibraltar's economic success is down to several well known components of the private economy. The construction industry, which is now hugely dependent on public expenditure, how long can this continue for? The gambling sector, what any government can do has been done, all that is required is continued licensing of only the best players and impeccable supervision. The finance centre, about which the CM has admitted that Gibraltar's transition is now complete but which undoubtedly can be expanded with government sposored promotion.  The CM has helpfully announced in the budget that the Government will increase expenditure on attracting finance centre business. The tourist, retail and wholesale and the bar and restaurant sectors, which I group together because, in my view, they are each interdependent. In this sector what is required is constant fine tuning, subject to the frontier remaining open, fine tuning that all administrations have historically undertaken and committed to. Lastly the fuel and bunkering sector, which again save for some occasional fine tuning, trundles along very nicely thank you very much and is supported by all politicians of whatever leaning.

It is not my intention to trivialise the importance of government's involvement in creating the correct environment in which the private sector can continue to grow our economy. This is especially important in matters of licensing by which government can stifle growth, for example, in the highly regulated finance industry. My point is that once it is done, it is done and any administration can continue or improve it. What we have to watch out for is that no replacement government spoils the environment by its actions or inaction. I do not see that this is actually within the realms of possibility, now. It happened once and the lesson has clearly been learnt.

The conclusion of this argument is that what one has to look at and analyse in assessing any government's performance is not revenue (whilst a government is not spoiling the economic environment) but rather what it is spending our public moneys on. It is easy to spend money badly and/or well when it is rolling in. I believe that  serious mistakes have been made by this administration on this side of the equation.

One mistake is not prioritising the right projects and prioritising the wrong projects. Another has been the various rescues of private sector affordable housing projects. I will not dwell on the cost that has resulted to the people of Gibraltar from the Government's intervention in these projects. These have already been publicised by opposition politicians and are well known to voters. If these mistakes were not to have been made, more money would have been available to be spent on other more worthwhile heads of expenditure, policies or allow for bigger tax cuts.

One such wrong prioritisation is the huge expenditure on the Air Terminal whilst ignoring Gibraltar's energy needs. Gibraltar is resorting to skid generators to meet its energy needs today. I do not know but this cannot be a cheap option for Gibraltar, both in terms of provision of equipment and in the ongoing cost of running that equipment. Provision of electricity in this way also cannot be very environmentally friendly. The excuse that environmental and planning issues have delayed the provision of the new generating station sound hollow to me. Gibraltar has known for nigh on 20 years that it needs a new power station. 20 years is more than enough time to have resolved all and any problems and to have delivered a fully working electricity generating station to meet Gibraltar's power needs.

The private sector cannot function without power. If the private sector cannot function, a government would not receive any revenue. Both can function without a state of the art Air Terminal. Which is more important to have done first? Keeping these arguments at the forefront of one's mind, does the justification by the GSD Government of their decision to prioritise the construction of the  new Air Terminal over and above a power station not begin to sound a little hollow? Will it really be a statement of Gibraltar's stature and international standing, as the CM has said? Or was it just the expensive keeping of a promise to Spain arising from the trilateral talks paid for by us?

My concern on this front is heightened when I take into account the figures that we now have as to the level of net public debt. The figures used are taken from the CM's budget speech. The net public debt stands at £216,700.000 (without taking into account any off-balance sheet borrowings structured through wholly owned government companies). The maximum amount that the Government is permitted by law to borrow, according to the CM,  is presently £305,000,000 of net public debt. This leaves a balance available to Government of £88,300,000, were it to decide to take the net public debt to its limit.

Well, my question is a simple one. Government has ongoing projects that it needs to finance, it also has to finance the construction of a power station, which I understand (from public sources) will cost in excess of £100,000,000. Where is this money going to come from without either increasing borrowings or (if there is limited or small growth in GDP) exceeding legal borrowing limits? There may well be an answer. The answer  may be to stagger the repayment of existing loans in tandem with drawdowns on any new loans. I would like to know whether this is the answer. It would also be good t know by how much the public debt may increase from time to time. Additionally, whether other projects will be put to one side or delayed as a result of the priority given to the Air Terminal.

The CM and the GSD has criticised the Leader of the Opposition for using per capita statistics to illustrate that the public debt is high. Unmitigated attacking of opposing views is a form of spin much liked by the CM, used by him defensively to deflect attention, when he is on his back feet. He has said that this statistic is not a proper measure of public debt. He has said that the impression has been given that each of us owe this amount and that people are frightened by this belief.

To say that it is not a measure of public debt is wrong, it is a measure that is used elsewhere. Anyone can Google "UK public debt per capita"; such a search will immediately produce many results. One of which is a clock that gives the increasing amount virtually by the minute. Undoubtedly, the per capita amount of public debt in Gibraltar is high when compared to other jurisdictions. The Leader of the Opposition is not an "economic illiterate" for having highlighted these statistics.

It is correct that each one of us does not owe this amount personally or directly. However we do owe it as a community. It can only be paid out of government revenues or renewed borrowings, subject to credit worthiness and availability in the credit market, which even the CM has admitted is tight. Government revenues are essentially direct taxation, which each one of us do pay, or indirect taxation which we and tourists pay. The Government can increase both and would have to do so if, instead of being in surplus, the budget goes into deficit, so in that sense each of us do owe and pay the public debt. Admittedly taxation is paid progressively so the wealthier would pay a greater share than the less wealthy.

Any answer given by the Government as to where the money will come from in future should make clear what, if any, reserves, Gibraltar has. The answer should also include the projections for reserves from time to time as expenditure that is already committed to is paid and required capital expenditure is incurred in the futrue, especillay on the new power station. There is a section in the CM's budget speech with the title "Government Debt and Reserves". There is no mention, however, of the subject of reserves in the speech.  The balance between the gross debt and the net debt is explained on the basis that this is money borrowed and kept in cash form by Government to give pensioners increased returns on their debentures. This being the case can it also be counted as reserves or as being available to meet future capital expenditure that Government is committed to meet? I would have thought not.

It may be that I am an "economic illiterate" also (after all I am a lawyer, just like the Leader of the Opposition but there again so is the CM) but those who are in power, those who have the obligation and responsibility to manage public funds (and so are hopefully "economically literate" or are surrounded by advisers who are) have a duty to explain to the electorate whether indeed there are reserves . In the end it is voters who provide the funds that the Government expends . It should apply the highest standards of a fiduciary nature when incurring that expenditure, supposedly in an open and transparent manner. Therefore it is to the electorate that the Government owes explanations. The electorate do not need to hear the vitriolic criticisms of the Leader of the Opposition that it has heard, in a reply to the Opposition by the CM in a reply that lacked sufficient explanations, irrespective of whether or not the performance of the Leader of the Opposition was lacklustre.

I now turn to the subject of our elderly and the ill. I am sure we all fully support the Government's initiatives to help the elderly, cancer sufferers and the mentally ill. It is salutary to see the provision of additional facilities for old people with moderate independence, a new centre for cancer relief and a hospice, a new mental health hospital, a home for people with seriously debilitating illnesses and a residential home for sufferers of Alzheimer's and dementia.

What is lacking in justification and discriminatory are the taxation benefits that have been provided to pensioners. It cannot be objectionable for a government to ensure that pensioners have what they need to ensure a comfortable lifestyle but they are being advantaged by this Government beyond what is reasonable. They have masses of tax relief, yet receive all the benefits of the State and more than all who have not reached pensionable age. Taxpayers subsidise the cost of increased interest returns paid to pensioners on their investments in government debentures, yet those pensioners, who can afford to and should pay tax, do not do so. Thus they do not contribute to the funding of these advantages. There are more and more pensioners and projections show that we will all live longer, how long can this be kept up? It is a vote catching exercise at the expense of younger hardworking taxpayers.

A government has to be responsible in the manner it gives tax benefits. Tax benefits should be across the board and equal for and fair to all. Advantaging a particular group is discriminatory and unfair and, if that group is pensioners, it will become over time too costly to sustain. The problem  is that once an electoral group has been advantaged, the political cost in votes makes it nigh on impossible to reverse the situation. This will only change when and if those working who are paying tax, thereby subsidising the excessive benefits enjoyed by pensioners, make it very clear that they will not tolerate such unfairness any longer. The unfairness is further exacerbated when one considers that many are better off retired than when they were working and paying tax. There is undoubtedly something wrong with that, something that, at some stage, the voters who are working and paying tax will  not condone further.

The use of tax money is an important subject, so is it right for a government to "invest" tax money in office developments? The first question is, will government be breaching its public covenant with the people by spending money compulsorily confiscated from taxpayers on what is not a communal purpose?  I would have thought they are but the debate does not stop there.

The CM has justified such an investment on various grounds. He says that the lack of office space will undermine our ability to attract business. Further that the lack of available bank finance or private finance should not stifle the creation of jobs and economic growth. These are valid arguments, save that, if indeed the demand exists it should be possible to find the investors to undertake the project, but these arguments miss the point. The criticism levied by opposing politicians to this policy also miss the point. The criticisms have, in the main, been personalised and been centred on not favouring a particular developer and development. This type of personalised criticism is not unusual in Gibraltar. I do not believe, however, that this personlaised line of argument is to take the debate to the right place.

This debate, in my view, should centre more on whether a government should be interfering and so distorting Gibraltar's traditional free economy. We do not live in a Communist state nor is the GSD a party with communist ideology. Special and careful consideration must be given before a government distorts free market forces. In this regard I agree with the Chamber of Commerce's criticism. There are many questions that come to mind arising from this Government's intention to involve itself in the financing of an office development.

Is it  not an interference with the legitimate interests and financial obligations of those who have already invested in offices without government assistance? What effect would the government investment have on them?  Why should they have not been favoured in this way in the past? What effect will this availability of extra office space have on existing rental levels? How will the developer who and development which is to be favoured be chosen? Will the process be open and transparent? Who will negotiate the terms of Government's investment and involvement? Will they be purely arms length commercial terms? Will banks, which have financed other developments, not be frightened off by government competing with them in the field of finance? Will potential future investors in property developments be put off by the fear of competition from Government? How will the Government's involvement be structured to avoid all these potential repercussions?  I fear that this policy has not been carefully thought through and analysed. The repercussions may be far reaching.

These are my thoughts on the recent budget. Is it a good budget? On the whole yes, it has good parts but it has many unexplained aspects and much about it that can be criticised. It seems that the debate in and out of Parliament has been superficial. The Opposition's analysis has not delved deep enough. Its criticisms have been light where they needed to be stronger and strong when they needed to be lighter. The CM took advantage of that failing. The result is that the CM has got away with it, again. Opposing politicians should not allow him such leeway. Gibraltar would be a better place if opposition politicians, in and out of Parliament, were to be more discriminatory and incisive with their criticisms of Government.


  1. My word Robert, "it is a good budget" are you having an off day? Best yet we have "The Opposition's analysis has not dug down deep enough" are you suggesting that our young bright opposition eager to lead and flex his muscles is not up to the job?
    You make some valid points generally, and I unserstand your view on the Power Plant, not that I totally agree with your conclusion on that.
    I thought that you be tackling the outstanding matter on whether or not the CM was justified in taking FP to pieces or not. As a man of conviction and an acute sense if right and wrong ibwould have expected you to deal with style (as you did) but was there any validity in the CMs arguments in showing up FP?

  2. Anonymous at 22:35

    I would have thought that it was clear from my immediately preceding blog that the answer to your question is NO, not in the manner that he did! He could have replied politely and substantively and gained support rather than lost some by his vitriolic language.

  3. Your analysis of the government's assistance to the office building developer is spot on. Is this sort of discriminatory aid not llegal under EU law? I too have the suspicion that the government has exceeded its borrowing powers. Why the hell increase that by £17m on project that unfairly competes with others in the free market? What is so special about the Mid Town development? The answer to that could lose Mr. Caruana the next election and more.

  4. Good budget my arse! The GSD has sown the seeds of economic collapse.

  5. Anonymous at 23:04

    A bland unsupported comment. Justify it with argument and you may gain some respect.

  6. The Vox is reporting that OHL is leaving the tunnel project and, yes you've guessed it, la pila de agua bendita de Caruana, JBS, is taking over!
    Why didn't they do the tunnel in the first place then, we'd have saved a penny or £30 million? and more importantly, shouldn't the consultant give his fees back seeing as he's cocked up big time on this one?

  7. In justification of a bland comment:existing and expected borrowings of over £400,000,000 in an active opultion of 20,000, reserves to pay 3 months of recurring expenditure only and unbridled election year spending. The budget is part of the most reckless economic policy I hav evr heard of.

  8. Anonymous at 23:13

    Your figure of expected borrowings is incorrect but in any event you high light a criticism that I do make of the budget in my blog. I question also the issue of reserves in the blog. My comment was intended in respect of those aspects that I do NOT criticise. I beleive that you should be a little more discerning when you read what I write.

  9. confused-dot-com11 July 2011 at 00:48


    Why is there such a doubtful air about the state of the budget and our borrowings vs surplus etc. Surely, its either OK or NOT OK! .... Why all the to ing and fro ing?

    Isn't their an independent analyst somewhere who can put things in perspective without a party angle?


  10. An Omnibus says:

    We were delivered a typical election year budget. Like any other election year budget it is designed to win votes and presented as such. I agree that any competent administration can continue steering the ship on a storm-free course. Past governments laid the foundations for this, and the present executive has built on it over the years whilst criticising when it was in opposition. In fact I recall Caruana's use of the term "white elephant" when describing Europort during the Bossano era. So much for lack of office space.

    Suffice to say, if in October we decide on a change of crew, we will make a judgement on the performance of the present Government over the last four years.

    I agree with you that enormous amounts of money have flowed down the plughole - this would have had much greater electoral impact had our economy not performed as well as it has.

    We need economic Plan B's in case the shit starts hitting the fan. We are vulnerable to major external factors such as possible changes to future UK gaming tax legislation, and the impact of further tightening of international bank lending. In my opinion one way to overcome the latter is for the Government to act as a guarantor of local bank property lending for key developments such as the mid-town projects. As you say, Government should be the facilitator, not the provider, of private office developments.

    However there are other issues that need to be debated thoroughly during the election campaign. Our energy needs have played second fiddle to the grand political air terminal project which will no doubt be used as yet another electoral "present" when the big opening takes place in September. However the tunnel underpass, which had it been completed in time, would have sealed President Peter his fifth and final term, will have to wait for another day.

    Come election day this government must be judged, amongst other things, on its record of decision making on the timing of big calls involving large amounts of taxpayer's money ie air terminal, tunnel underpass, power station, mid-town development, road and transport infrastructure, and social housing.

    The rest (ie proposed elderly care and mental health facilities, free buses, playparks, sandy beaches, new car parks etc) are mere vote-catching titbits which could have been delivered way before election year 2011.

    I feel that the Chief's vitriolic attack against Picardo did not win him any votes, and quite possibly may have made some in the "undecided camp" to realise that we need a change of leadership for Gibraltar.

  11. Confused-dot-com:

    There are no absolutes or rights and wrongs on this subject. It is time that will tell whether or not the budget is good or bad or whether or not the public debt is or is not affordable. Now all that thee is, is opinions.

  12. L.E.F. says,

    2 quick questions?

    Cigarettes have increased by 12 pence a packet,that means each carton has gone up by £1.20 and each box of 50 cartons by £60.00 .

    If Gibraltar sells 500 boxes of 50 cartons every day the Government is making £30 Thousand every day or nearly £11 million pounds a year at the stroke of a pen.

    Is this the economic miracle?

    As we do not know how much tobacco is sold per annum and the general public is refused that information I can only speculate with the figure used in my example.

    Can anyone enlighten us on how much % of our revenue is from the tobacco trade and what the actual figure is?

  13. LEF surely you are not suggesting that the economic miracle will go up in smoke.

  14. surely we sell more than 50 cartons a day.

    If we list all the tobacco kiosks in the laguna/north front/airport area, all the indian tobacco shops in irish town/main street/market road area, the wholesaler's retail shops in Main Street, the petrol stations, the supermarkets, etc, yo creo que con 50 cartons, te quedas bien corto!

  15. Yes, clearly among the main engines of the economy are pollutants: tobacco and petrol sales. But why doesn't the Govt come clean and tell us how much they contribute to GDP? I understand that they inform the Opposition of these figures but only on a confidential basis. Don't we have a right to know even if it may upset our larger neighbour?

  16. Smoking kills, gambling is addictive and bunkering pollutes. The finance centre is all about tax evsion and lawyers adn accountants are jobs worths. Ship repair is a dirty industry and tourism is for back ward countries. We do not need any of these nasty things in Gibraltar. Open more vacancies in the civil service, the GDC, GBC, the GHA, the FSC, the RGP, the RGR and the new Coast Guard Agency and traffic monitors, the new bicycle hire thing, the natioanlised office rental industry, the lucrative "consultancy ;) sector, the Gibraltar Chronicle... . On the other hand one could argue that there are too many people in the public sector leeching on the private sector and at some point the whole thing is going to come crashing down. Hasta la Caruina siempre.

  17. The Pope..

    £90,000,000 Tobacco revenue to clarify the amount speculated . Surprisingly a lot more than during the time of the GSLP.

  18. L.E.F.says,

    To the Pope,

    I know that the Pope would never lie, but please help out another 'economic illiterate ' who is trying to get a better understanding of our finances.

    Is the £90 million tobacco revenue stated, the total duty amount collected by Government. Or is it the total sales of tobacco plus duty . Is it an accurate figure or is it merely speculative.

    If the £90 million is only import duty does that mean that 25% of our recurrent revenue is made of tobacco duty.

    Does it also mean that tobacco sales might represent 20% of our GDP.

    Awaiting to be enlightened by the truth and only by the truth.

  19. Just read the vox online. OHL leaves the tunnel project!!

    Is it true that the person behind this is the same bright spark thant was behind OEM?!

    I am an everyday person living in Gibraltar and would like info on the following as i do not possess the required knowledge or expertise to answer my own questions. I am a-political but bewildered by the following:

    - Will financial audits ever be carried out to assess to fiasco created by OEM?
    - If they were carried out what would the legal reprecussions be for such actions Robert?
    - Could we see some eggy faces or notin in Gib?
    - Would the situation be different if this happened in another country?

    I am just bewildered by a private company going bust and leaving projects unfinished which the taxpayer then rescues and does not face consecuences?!

    Please enlighten!

    the chosen one 773

  20. Robert,

    Did n't GBC contact the London School of Economics for an independant view on the "Gibraltar national debt"??

    Did n't they say we were fine??? YES.

    So I suggest that those that still don't believe that we are "okay" and continue to scare monger to call upon independant economists to give thier independant view!!!

    El SABIO

  21. El Sabio

    I do not believe that anyone is scare mongering on this blog. The size of the debt is not in debate, save by reference to the legal limits on borrowing based on the CM's own figures.

    Personally (and it is only a personal view which reflects the view expressed by the GSD in the 1996 election that £3000 per capita of gross debt was too high) I consider that a per capita gross debt of approx £16,000 is high. It is a little higher than the per capita debt levels in the UK.

    I also accept that when measured against GDP it is low when compared with other european jurisdictions.

    It is also a fact that Gibraltar's economy can be affected by regulatory and tax changes in other jurisdictions over which we have no say or control. A very conservative and cautious borrowing policy is, therefore, desirable in my view.

  22. So Peter Caruana says the true net debt figure is only £220m out of the total of £480m because £280m is not really "borrowed". It is collected from pensioners who benefit from a higher rate of interest and placed in deposit accounts earning a relatively low rate of interest. It is not spent by the Govt and he could repay all debenture holders today, he said in Parliament. If it is true that the £280m is not really "borrowing" but is only there to help pensioners why is he advertising debentures in today's Chronic to all individuals (not just pensioners), corporates, pension funds and trusts? In the past, higher-interest debentures have only been available to pensioners but the last few issues of fixed-term debentures over the past few years have been open to everyone. Debentures owned by non-pensioners must therefore be included in the general 'pot' of £280m and there is necessarily an increasing ratio of non-pensioners as time goes on. So everyone is benefitting from the higher rate but everyone is also the loser if, as the CM stated in his budget speech, the Govt is offering a higher rate at a loss to the taxpayer.

  23. Is Caruana losing it? 2 weeks ago he comes out guns blazing saying that there was a malicious rumour that the person who is alleged to have assaulted Picardo and a friend was a member of Caruana's family. In fact nobody had heard such a rumour. Then he accuses Picardo of being a liar and tries to pass a motion in parliament accussing the leader of the opposition of lying. Now he accuses the GGCA of making "false, unfair and inaprpriate statements". Keith Azopardi has done very well to convince the Chief minister that the Picardo motion is a monstuosity and I hope that the CM heeds his one time deputy. In fact one wonders whether the CM could not do with Keith's steadying hand at this time when it seems that all around him are too weak or scared to tell the ever more hysterical Chief to calm down.

  24. Whilst I have no current party allegiance (I currently consider myself too uninformed to make a considered judgement), a friend brought some of the recent budgetary debate to my attention and I believe that Mr Picardo comes across very poorly. I understand that in order to communicate effectively with an electorate with disparate economic understanding he has to simplify and be selective with the points he makes, but the ‘economic illiteracy’ he has been accused of does not seem unwarranted.

    His choice of debt per capita as a guideline of Gibraltar’s economic well-being is ill advised, I struggle to justify it. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the average voter, but it is all too easy to take advantage of those lacking reasonable economic understanding by throwing headline-grabbing figures around. I must say that it is very hard to provide any significant context to this figure and all too easy to imply that each Gibraltarian owes £7k, and may be held to ransom by the government at any time.

    I must disagree with those that compare Gibraltarian debt per capita with for example, UK figures. Countries inherently benefit vastly from economies of scale, particularly in terms of infrastructure, translating a far smaller debt per person for ‘the necessities’’. Due to this Gibraltarian debt per capita will always seem disproportionately high. If we insist upon UK comparison, values similar to those of the UK would if anything demonstrate that we are in a strong position. I’m open to suggestions of how emphasising this figure was of public benefit, but I can’t see it in any other light than a display of irresponsibility.

  25. Anonymous at 20:02

    for someone who claims to be so uninformed that you cannot judge which party you support, your comment is very partial to the GSD ... not a good start to a comment :)

    Per capita figures are used elsewhere, You justify your argument that it should not be used on the basis of scare mongering. What more scare mongering than the gross and net figures of public debt announced by the CM on the same basis as your own argument, lack of the electorate's reasonable understanding. Surely this is the very good reason for explanation? The implication is yours not that of Mr Picardo. The implication is the spin of the GSD not that of the GSLP/Lib Alliance. Instead of explaining the GSD resorts to the worst possible interpretation. Who is scare mongering the GSLP/Lib's or the GSD? I rather think the GSD ...

    As to your statement that debt having been incurred for "the necessities" That goes to the very core of my argument on this point . Air Terminal in preference to a power station? Rescuing failed affordable housing projects? Justify this assertion please, I beg you.

  26. Robert,

    Why don't you contact a leading independant Economic think tank to give thier true and fair view on Gibraltar's public finances??? rather give your personal view??? come on you are a lawyer not an economist!!

    It would be helpful for everyone, including yourself. You could then spend more time on writing about other relevant matters to the electorate like for example: "The possible repurcussions on Gibraltar if Picardo gets elected Chief Minister and he is further embroiled in the GP Noble case in the UK & Blueprime case in Spain". Somehow I do not think you dare debate this sore subject. I asure you it would make a very popular subject if you were to write about it in your next blog. I suppose it is easier to just throw stones at Caruana and just about critisise everything about him: si Caruana dice blanco tu dice negro!! :)

    Come on lets be brave.....:)

    Will you write about it in your next Blog???? :) jeje

    El Sabio

  27. Anonymous at 20:02

    "illiterate" is also a rather strong and viciously hostile word. It means "uneducated". Do you not think it is overstating the case, even were Mr Picardo to have got it wrong?

  28. El Sabio

    Indeed I am a lawyer, as are the CM and the Leader of the Opposition. That does not make any of our opinions untrue or unfair. It makes them all as informed or uninformed as each other. Anyway my piece is on the budget measures not the economy :)

    I give my personal view because I have it, because I have the right to freedom of speech, because I am a taxpayer so it hurts me too, because I write what I belive I know about, because I read a lot and form opinions, because I avidly follow the news, which gives me an insight, because I want t, because I can, because people read my views ....

    So when are you going to express a valid and substantive opinion on behalf of the GSD? Or is the GSD election campaign limited to trying to destroy Fabian personally. Ministers in glass house may well be advised not to.

    You so very obviously do not follow this blog. The matters that you say I will not debate have been the subject of several blogs. The last being "A Dark and Cloudy Dawn but with a Small Ray of Hope" on the 15th May 2011.

  29. Shitforbrains asks: Greece is in deep trouble because its debt is 120% of its GDP. Will some kind soul tell us innumerate Gibbo dunces what our debt is in comparison with our GDP?

  30. Hi Robert,
    The reason I consider myself uninformed is that being in my early twenties and currently studying abroad, I have not followed local proceedings in any detail. I’m strongly opposed to following any one party without significant understanding of their future vision for Gibraltar and policies.
    I assure you I am equally (im)partial to each party, I could just as easily criticise Mr. Caruana for his recent outburst, for example. I could try to alternate critical observations sequentially between each party in future? ;)
    I believe I acknowledged that per capita figures are used elsewhere, (e.g. UK) perhaps I didn’t explain properly, part of my point was that Gibraltarian per capita values should not be compared to those of the UK.
    UK figures don’t provide suitable context because the government will accrue debt differently due to the fact certain elements of a countries infrastructure can support far larger populations than our own; my economies of scale point. When I mentioned necessities I had no intention of getting into debate about which projects specifically merited investment, though I see no fault in your selection. My point is very specific to the economics of the budget, and the GSLP selection of which figures to highlight, and the manner in which this was done.
    I believe that in Fabian Picardo’s budgetary analysis video, debt per capita was specifically delineated in such a manner as to induce outrage. The implication being we could all spontaneously be required to pay £7k. The electorate should by all rights have these figures explained to them, however, in my opinion it was done irresponsibly, not objectively, in order to dramatise and paint the GSD in a poor light. Caruana does that job quite nicely himself.
    I’m told that the GSD used the figure (£3k?) in the same manner several years ago, which I equally condemn, on the same grounds. I don’t see how the GSD is scare mongering, unless you mean by following policies leading to these figures. Surely they are just presenting them in the budget, as they are required to do? I take it then that you have issue with the magnitude of gross/net figures. I personally don’t take much heed of gross values and I consider the net to be reasonable.
    Finally, I don’t follow your point about the implications of the GSD and GSLP/Lib alliance, GSD spin and GSD interpretations, though I would love you to clarify, maybe it’s a topic I’m not aware of.

  31. Shitforbrains :)

    According to the CM the net debt is 21.7% of 2010/11 of GDP. if the £20,000,000 government company debt is added then it rises ti 23.6%.

    By my calculation the gross debt of £480,000,000 is 50.3% of GDP.

  32. Ok once and for all net debt is £217m of which all is invested in capital infrastructure projects unlike most other economies who pay for debt with debt. Debt in itself is part and parcel of any business, family or economy, it is a fact of life which allows for investment, modernisation, etc, for eg buying a new kitchen in the car of a family, investing in your business or building an airport, fixing roads, planning ahead. It's fundamental in life to use debt ( wisely) in order to move on and not lag behind.
    Too much debt is bad. What is worse still is the lack of any ability to finance and pay your debt and in order to do, so you need a strong economy with low unemployment, growth in GDP a good reputation, politically stable. We so happen to have this.
    My point. It's not just the debt which is actually low at 23% of GDP, it's about what the debt is for and wether or not we can afford it. The answer is unquestionably yes.
    The remaining £260m debt which forms the gross debt is in THE BANK of England tucked away safe and cushioned with cotton wool scented with Nenuco and resting easy whilst it serves to allow Govt pay our pensioners an extra few % points on their investments.

    Never have 7 elected representatives done so much to create such hype over so little, with such disregard for the intelligence of the community.

  33. P.S. Regarding your follow up on the term illiterate, whilst I would not personally find it offensive, I would say its probably best reserved for discussion on a forum, and not political discourse.

    Perhaps just a little too much political correctness..

  34. I do not care much for Shitforbrains tone. The Gibraltarian economy is not about facts and figures it is what it is and the world is green with envy about Peter Caruana's enocomic miracle. Even an English gentleman who is a professor said so in the Chronicle today. Peter must now go on his annual holiday and the rest of ou should give our Leader a rest.

  35. Anonymous at 22:24

    PRC may be your Leader to me he is the elected servant of the people.

  36. Shitforbrains says thatnks Robert according to wiki gross domestic product (GDP) refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. If our debt is £480,000 and this accounts for 50% of GDP it means that we
    produced nearly £1 billion in goods and services last year at a tax rate of 25% which applied that is £250,000,000 in income tax plus £90,000,000 in tobacco duty and a similar or greater sum for fuel duty plus the duty on all other products plus social insurance and rates. Tell me Robert, between us are we the richest nation in the world or is soemone baking some big porky pies and we are all swallowing them?

  37. The best servant we have had To date. But have no fear Picardo is ready to take on the challenge and fill the boots of the mN who gave us the economic miracle. Milton Fabian Keynes is on a role and his size fits all. Es in fenomeno.

  38. RV,

    Interesting article, though, in your last two articles, I've come away with the nagging feeling that somehow "te queda corto" and there is something else you want to say pero...

    However on this occasion I'd like to point out two things, aunque me quedo corto. Would like to comment on other things.
    1. You rightly say that the budget is good but could be better and that there could be defiencies. But what exactly would you put right? I don't want to seem impertinent or offensive but I'd be keen to learn a couple of concrete proposals or different approaches.

    2. On the matter of illiterate, yes I agree. I think it is the wrong choice of word. However the Picardo's use the per capita method went far beyond the mere average that it warrants. To scaremonger the public and to "suggest" that this is owed by each of us borders on the "cruel" especially for those who are genuinely illiterate when it comes to economics.

    As always many thanks for your insight and your opinion.

  39. Anonymous at 22:19

    Point taken on your being away :)

    I will agree to disagree on per capita comparisons. I undertsand your point but I consider that the comparison with the UK is a fair one to make. As fair as comparing with GDP in Gibraltar and UK. GDP per capita in Gib is likely to be higher.

    You may be right about the Opposition reply. I have not written about that. My point is that it would have been more effective for the CM to have calmly and with moderate language torn it apart.I do criticise the opposition for its performance in my piece.

    I have tried to explain in my piece how per capita figures work and how taxpayers are ultimately liable to pay it principally through payment of direct and indirect taxation.

    All I was saying by scare mongering is that on the basis of your argument, namely the lack of economic knowledge by the population, the CM's references to debt at all is frightening to those same people. People lacking basic economic knowledge will be scared by the figures that the CM had to make public.

    I have explained my reasons why I would be more cautious and conservative on borrowings above, briefly, again our dependance on tax and regulatory changes in other jurisdictions e.g. new gaming taxes elsewhere.

    All I was saying is that the implication that each would be called to pay £7,000 was really GSD spin to give the worst interpretation to the GSL/Lib use of per capita figures.

  40. Disciple X

    I make my constructive suggestions in my piece:

    1. More help for the poor.
    2. Continue to facilitate and improve the private sector which is what produces our wealth.
    3. Having Provided a power station which is essential before spending on a non-essential air Terminal.
    4. Reducing costly mistakes.
    5.A more conservative and cautious level of public debt.
    6. Taxing pensioners on their pensions on a means tested basis.
    7. Not using compulsorily confiscated (by taxation) public moneys to support private development projects.

    This is a summary of the positive suggestions that I have made in my piece.

  41. I concur the GSD is dead meat and the MidTown issue is its suicide note. I will vote for Picaro not because he is any good but because he cannot be more insufferable than Caruina QC.

  42. The GSD is not finished an it would be a disaster for Gib if Picardo gets in but Peter Caruana must distance himself from all the implications of the Midton project, it smells.

  43. Robin Hood says:

    When one listens to the news and contemplates the future of all the ailing economies around the world I suppose we should be thankful that we are not, today, being subjected to such soul destroying austerity measures which are undoubtedly financially destroying many people and families everywhere. I suppose the budget has indeed been good news for most people generally and therefore most of us are lead to believe that we are moving in the right direction economically. I then ask myself how can so many people in all these different countries who have been empowered by governments and administrations to look after the nations interests have got it so badly wrong and land their countries and their people in such financial Shit. Presumably not all of them are completely stupid or corrupt; there must have been some clever, honest ones amongst the many thousands of politicians, accountants and economists etc. When the Queen put the question to some distinguished economists the answer she got was ‘No one saw it coming’. The fact of the matter is that some did but their views were sadly ignored by those in power and rubbing their hands with greed, and now we know much to the detriment of most.

    In Gibraltar we seem to have one man: a leader [and it seems a very good one at that], a chief minister, a finance minister and I understand many other things besides. Singlehandedly he appears to have taken Gibraltar from the stone age right to the cutting edge of the modern civilised world. Could it really be that we have indeed been blessed with a phenomenal genius that is by far more able and cunning than anyone else in Gibraltar and probably the rest of the world??? This may sound mocking but I do honestly often wonder whether this is actually the case. Putting that thought aside I then wonder whether perhaps this is just a cycle and Gibraltar is simply out of sync with the rest of the world. Perhaps we are on the other side of the ‘wheel’ at present, and as the whole machinery rotates, we may soon find ourselves right at the point where all other economies find themselves at this moment in time, in other words we are just following on the doomed footsteps of all these other countries before us. Perish the thought for if this was to happen, Gibraltar will be exposed and at the mercy of our creditors, some of which may include currently faltering economies that may by then have nursed their finances back to life. If this was to happen, let us hope that unlike the Greeks who may soon be selling off some of their islands, we do not need to sell ourselves to anyone.

    But these are just thoughts and opinions and I truly hope that I am wrong about all this, but ask yourselves this question: what is the primary reason that most of the suffering economies find themselves in this situation today? Could it perhaps be overspending and amassing of debt which could no longer be serviced when the ‘crunch’ happened?? Banks stopped lending to each other and credit became very expensive or almost extinct. Growing economies like Ireland suddenly found themselves with big millstones round their necks, and their now miss-firing economies could no longer bail them out fast enough.

    In any case I do not believe that Gibraltar can compare itself to large economies which are more diverse and interconnected to other economies. We have been fortunate enough to lock into nice earners in the past like the gambling, the services industry, bunkering etc. but if, as it appears, one of the principle pillars of our economy is dependant on tobacco revenue then I fear we may be in for catching a cold in the not too distant future. How much longer will Gibraltar be allowed to get away with this?? When this income is lost and possibly not replaced how will we pay for all the maintenance and ongoing cost of recent commitments and capital projects and how shall we service the ever growing debt??

  44. RV,

    I agree and I did grasp those aspects that you mention.

    However on the first four, and in the spirit of constructive debate and especially taking into account the position we find ourselves in:

    1. More help for the poor.

    Please define poor.
    How can we help exactly? Further allowances, rent free accomodation? Reduce their utility bills? Should we provide a structure to see these people through difficult times? Do we provide them with time scale for them to seek work?

    2. Continue to facilitate and improve the private sector which is what produces our wealth.

    I am really at a lost on this one. Totally "illiterate". How can we assist further the Private Sector? Reduce import duty on more selected items? ensure Banks provide greater lending? At a loss... :(

    3. Having Provided a power station which is essential before spending on a non-essential air Terminal.

    Yes I agree, and almost fell off laughing at how ludicrous this has all become, the cart before the horse...Pero ya esta hecho... what do we do now with this problem...abandon it?

    4. Reducing costly mistakes

    Again you're the legal expert. Can we afford to do this, and can it be done?

    Grateful for the debate!

  45. Disciple X

    1, It seems to me that the system of financial help is disparate and complicated. As you point out benefits, rent rebates etc etc. I believe that Gibraltar is small enough to have a system that tailor makes help specifically for individuals. In this way each can and should be monitored and each mentored so that the nest potential could be developed in each. Perhaps I am too idealistic on this but i would have thought it is possible to achieve something good in this way in such a small place.

    2. All I am suggesting is a continuation of what is already happening but we can improve things. Especially in promoting Gibraltar and reducing red tape. I think the Trade Licensing Act should be done away with, for example. I think if we sell light touch and quick financial services licensing and regulation, we should deliver on it.

    3. We need to get on and build the power station and stop misspending money on grandiose schemes. In a few words ... learn from our mistakes.

    4. Yes it can, it requires electoral and parliamentary reforms leading to a reduction in the vitriolic adversarial political scene, inclusive government, open and transparent debate and listening. All this can reduce mistakes. We also have to accept that in a small place like Gibraltar we will need to import expertise from other countries as and when needed but it needs to be carefully chosen.

  46. the Leader of the Opposition, in his budget address states the following:

    "Now, I recall, from my position as a citizen at the time, when I was not a member of this House, that the position of the GSD before the 1996 election was that the said Gross Debt of £92m should be expressed as being “a millstone round the neck of all Gibraltarians and of future generations.”
    Apparently, then, the economically sensible thing was to talk about Gross Debt. Today, we are told that it is only economically sensible to talk about Net Debt.
    The calculation then made was of £3,000 due per man, woman and child"

    He then adds:

    "It does not take a brilliant mathematician either to work out that if the Gross Debt of 1995 (at £92m) worked out at £3,000 per man, woman and child, the Gross Debt of today (at £480m) works out to £16,000 per man, woman and child"

    He then goes on to say:

    "Mr Speaker the analysis by man, woman and child was in my view an economically meaningless analysis then and it is a meaningless analysis now; but it is important to do it in order to understand how the analysis of the party opposite has changed."

    Perhaps we should stop distorting the truth.

    Mr Picardo only refers to the per-capita figure to show how the GSD used it to their advantage in 1996 as a scaremongering tactic, and to reinforce the concept that it its never wise to 'spit upwards'!

  47. Disciple X

    Just picking up on your point about putting the cart before the horse. Another good example is this proposed new bicycle hire scheme. Great idea but why do they not try and make the roads safer beforehand. Gibraltar must be one of the most dangerous places to cycle!!! To top it all government is building all these roads, Devils tower, the new rental housing by-pass, Eastern Beach, the new Trafalgar interchange etc. and they make no provision for cycle about poor planning or as you say DX putting the cart before the horse or the bike before the

  48. Disciple X

    I agree, the government’s decision to implement the bicycle hiring scheme was foolish, even if it was done with the best of intentions (or perhaps less noble “green” vote-catching aspirations).

    As negative as it may sound, Gibraltar’s current road network simply doesn’t accommodate in any way the safe travel of cyclists. These are the same cracked and damaged roads where mopeds are a law unto themselves swerving in and out of traffic with reckless abandon and not to mention (and most importantly of all) the lack of any road-space or designated lanes in which cyclists are able to safely travel.

    I imagine that any person in Gibraltar that would readily use a bicycle for getting around would already have their own bicycle in order to brave these same roads and the dangers they present. The government’s unrealistic expectation that a given individual will take it upon themselves to help the environment by experimenting with this dangerous form of travel within Gibraltar is exactly that; unrealistic.

    The Fuming Friar

  49. RV,

    Good stuff, but we continue:

    5.A more conservative and cautious level of public debt.

    The debt will now increase due to the increased debenture threshold. Should this be stopped. Debentures provide many people especialy pensioners with a good level of interest! If we reduced this and introduced taxation we could end up up with another problem!

    7. Not using compulsorily confiscated (by taxation) public moneys to support private development projects.

    Not to clear on this one. Is thsi to do with the mid town project? What is the problem here. Again totally "illiterate" on this one!

    Grateful for your comments

    6. Taxing pensioners on their pensions on a means tested basis.

    See above... but I do agree that some pensioners should be means tested and made to pay at least a nominal amount. What do you think would be the income bracket to start of with? My doubt is, is it "fair"? Still dwelling on this one.

  50. Anon 23:34. Good point only one fundamental difference, debt is not all about size as mentioned by anon 22:22, it's about ability to pay, something which in 1996 was only manifested by an economy steered by teenagers in launches. For anyone to have the cheek to suggest that 1995 was comparable in any way or form or better than our position today is ridiculous.

    Brill stuff these guys are on a role!
    They also have, either no respect for the electorate's intelligence, or are unable to master economics, or, refuse to accept that this Govt has created a mature well managed and respected economy which on any level of comparison to any other country in the world, is, safe, secure, stable, prosperous and respected.
    It seems that the only recourse the GSLP have is to continue to sit on a fence and throw stones with absolutely no consideration to the community and reality.
    Can someone please explain to the GSLP economists that of the £480m gross debt, over £260m is in the Bank of England, placed purposely in order to give our pensioners a better return.
    Can someone please explain to the dream team that our £217m debt is under 23% of GDP which is the lowest in Europe by a mile and which additionally is supported by a growing economy, increased budget surplus and to boot a continuation and reflection of previous budgets for 10 years. In other words this is not an election budget, it is a budget that follows the same trend over 10 years, not an anomaly, it is fact of stability and strength, by comparison to any other economy in the world!

    To the person that came up with :
    'Never have 7 elected representatives done so much to create such hype over so little, with such disregard for the intelligence of the community.'
    You are being way to kind.

  52. Robert,

    The matter about Fabian's cases may have been raised on the sidelines in several of your blogs but to date it has not been the MAIN subject discussed in any. It surely deserves an in-depth anaylsis and dicussion and to be THE subject of a blog.

    I dare you to make it:)

    "The possible repurcussions on Gibraltar if Picardo gets elected Chief Minister and he is further embroiled in the GP Noble case in the UK & Blueprime case in Spain".

    It is not about destroying Fabian. It is about discussing this topic IN DEPTH as we do other topics. It would be constructive!!

    Que me dices??? :)

    I am sure others in this blog agree???

    El Sabio

  53. Charles Gomez.14 July 2011 at 14:06

    Aside from the spiral of accusations and counter-accusations between Peter Caruana and Joe Bossano (standing in for Fabian Picardo who is honeymooning) the confusion surrounding the economic realities of our City needs addressing. One reason why I campaigned against the 2006 Constitution was that I thought that it deprived Gibraltar of the safety net implicit in UK involvement in the local economy via the Financial & Development Secretary and otherwise under the 1969 Constitution (including borrowing limits). The UK's key aim in the constitutional negotiations was to divest itself of ressponsibilty for what the F&CO calls "contingent liabilities" and our representatives were taken in on account of their political ambitions. As it is, a Public Accounts committee needs to be appointed urgently to examine the accounts and to consider value-for-money criteria based on economy, effectiveness and efficiency and to report to the people.The economy should not be held hostage to the party political interests of either side.

  54. Anon 22:22 said: "The remaining £260m debt which forms the gross debt is in THE BANK of England tucked away safe and cushioned with cotton wool scented with Nenuco and resting easy whilst it serves to allow Govt pay our pensioners an extra few % points on their investments."

    Good one, but you'll find that it's deposited in call accounts at Barclays, NatWest and SG Hambros - all in Gibraltar. But the point is that all fixed-term issues of Govt debentures in recent years have been 'open' i.e. not restricted to pensioners, so the taxpayer is subsidising the payment of higher interest to younger working possibly wealthier individuals, corporates, pension funds and trusts. It simply doesn't tally with the CM's pronouncement in Parliament about helping pensioners.

  55. Anon 15:28. Go do some homework and when you have come back with the facts anda.

  56. Anonymous at 16:51

    The deposits are with the banks mentioned ...

  57. Robert,

    No reply?? :)

    El Sabio

  58. Disciple X

    Sorry for the delay ... I have had a hard day at work ... except for a couple of hours over a very good lunch :)

    I reply to your questions by reference to your numbering (excellent lawyer shorthand):

    5.I do not agree with the issuing of debentures to give those who are fortunate to have savings a higher return. These returns are subsidised by taxpayers who may be paying mortgages to buy their houses and who are also paying taxes. These taxes are going to help keep those who have paid for their houses or live in subsidsed government housing to have more income and a better lifestyle because they have savings ... there is something wrong with that is there not?

    If we reduce the level of debt we also reduce the level of debt servicing costs. This will allow further reductions in taxation to be achieved, which, if done fairly and equally will benefit all. Perhaps the State should not spend our money so freely on subsidising luxuries i.e. leaisure centres and monstruous air terminals. These are election gimmicks which are not the functions of any government to provide throught taxation.

    6. Yes Midtwon, the issues it raises is explained in my piece read it again.

    7.Taxation of pensioners with occupational pensions should be on the same basis as all income earners for the system to be fair. This is what I mean by 'means tested'. The basic theory of taxation is that it is progressive so the lower earners pay proportionally and in real terms less than high earners. This is what allowances and lower rates of taxation does. Why should pensioners with high occupational pensions be treated differently? Is it just to get their vote?

  59. El Sabio

    As I was saying in my last reply to a comment, I have a day job to help pay the bills ... YES OF COURSE THERE IS A REPLY! In fact if you had been an avid reader of this blog in the past I have replied to this point over and over again.

    First and foremeost the matters in question are sub judice.

    Second I am not a judge.

    Third I am not in possession of all the facts ... are you because your tone is condemnatory, so you have already jumped to conclusions. Personally I believe in and practice the principle of innocent until and if proven guilty.

    Fifth This is a POLITICAL blog. I have made the POLITICAL point that the matters you refer to may distract Mr Picardo from his duties if he is elected and becomes CM and if there are adverse findings against him will be detrimental to Gibraltar. Let him and each voter decide what they do ...

    Sixth the politicians are doing a good job of putting Gibraltar in the gutter. I will not participate. If and when there is something certain to comment about I will.

    Seventh I write on my blog about what interests me


  60. El Sabio - maybe you should try your luck with the same question in the Facebook Gibraltar Politics group if you're so desperate for a discussion to be had on that subject matter??

  61. Dear fellow bloggers,

    I asked several questions in my post of the 13th July @ 14:29 above.

    Can anyone answer these questions as they bewilder me? Robert maybe you can shed some light.

    the chosen one 773

  62. Anonymous at 20:42

    Sorry no ... i am not in the know. Maybe the GSC Government can explain?

  63. El 773 e intimo de Los que Mandan en 55 y 57. You should ask them.

  64. Can anyone translate what Joe the economic guru was talking about in Viewpoint tonight? I think that he said he agreed that the debt was ok and that we are the envy of Europe. He finished of with the fear factor and that we have wiped out our savings.

  65. Robert maybe they can expand on what seems to be a sore point for them. I am just amazed how the bright spark gets away with things...this is a real insult to the people of Gibraltar as the Government trapishistas think no one know or finds out their dealings. Maybe he is the chosen one not me! ;)

    Anonymous at seem to know something that we do not...please expand on this for the benefit of all on what you mean by 55 and 57. Instead of deflecting my questions please add substance not more crap to this blog mate!!

    maybe the chosen one 773

  66. L.E.F. says,

    From the Chief Ministers Budget Speech 2008.

    'In addition, Public debt will be defined as GROSS government borrowing ,wheras elsewhere the ratios are in relation to NET public debt'

    Can anyone explain the correct meaning of the above as I do not know if it is Government or the Opposition who is trying to confuse us.

  67. I agree with LWRV that taxpayers should not have to subsidise to the tune of £9m per annum the payment of higher interest to savers, many of which are not pensioners such as corporates, pension funds and trusts.

    The Govt announced that the Prospectus and General Conditions of the 5% 2015 debenture would be available from the Post Office and two Sub-Post Offices. This morning the Glacis Post Office was closed with a sign on the door saying 'closed due to power cut' while the CM was inside Lucas Imossi looking at new Ford cars. G1, driver and bodyguard were in the forecourt.

    Haven't we just paid over £1m to purchase and hire skid generators? If the sign on the door is correct, why isn't the CM in his office trying to sort out the power shortage instead of looking at new cars?

  68. I agree with Charles Gomez that "a Public Accounts committee needs to be appointed urgently to examine the accounts and to consider value-for-money criteria based on economy, effectiveness and efficiency and to report TO THE PEOPLE". Maybe the Alliance or the PDP could take up this proposal.

  69. Charles Gomez and Anonymous at 17:34

    Is that not what Parliament is meant to do?

  70. In the UK there is a pubclic accounts committee which tears the strip off any government department that misspends public money. The same exists in most other countries. In Spain it is called the Tribunal de Cuentas. In towns and provinces in every civilized country public spending is monitored by the central government and there are limits on spending. Here we have nothing. Governments in Gibraltar spend money as if it belonged to them and there are no checks or balances. That is why something like the Mid Town bail out can happen only here and in other third world places.

  71. So a public accounts committee to supervise government spending and a boycott of the next elections. Has Mr. Gomez considered that his ideas could be making him unpopular with the great and the good. yon Brutus has a lean and hungry look such men are dangerous.

  72. Anon@19:47

    Where were those Public Accounts Committees or the equivalents in those other "civilised countries" you talk about when their taxpayers money was used and is being used to bail out the banks and other financial institutions?

    Third world place, indeed.

  73. Anonymous at 09:30, "Let me have men around me that are fat, sleek-headed (brainless) men and men that sleep at night." (Every dictator's dream...) "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look, he thinks too much, such men are dangerous."