Gibraltar should spend within its means and prioritise how it employs public funds, Opposition MP Roy Clinton said this week as he claimed the Gibraltar Music Festival had cost the taxpayer £2.25m.
The Gibraltar Government has yet to confirm the final cost of last year’s festival but insisted yesterday the GSD MP was wrong in his calculation.
But Mr Clinton said his figure was based on the estimates book that MPs are handed for the budget session.
Addressing Parliament on Tuesday evening, he said that while overall government expenditure had been kept within budget, “there were some spectacular failures” too.
Mr Clinton said, for example, that it “beggared belief” that only £10,000 of the £800,000 earmarked for the Dementia Day Care and Residential Centre had been spent.
In contrast, the £870,000 budget for the Gibraltar Music Festival had been exceeded by £1.42m to reach a total cost to the public purse of £2.25m, he claimed.
“Whereas I am sure Gibraltar enjoyed the event I wonder if all taxpayers would have been happy with such a use of their money or would they perhaps have preferred it going to pay for a third of the £6m cost of Calpe House?” he said.
“The point I am trying to make is that we need to ensure we keep sight of our priorities and target our spending accordingly.”
“It will be small comfort to those struggling to pay off housing arrears to see that same money squandered on frivolities and merriment.”
“We need to spend Gibraltar’s money wisely and appropriately.”
As an aside, Mr Clinton also claimed that some MPs had received complimentary VVIP tickets to the festival in the past, labelling this as “totally inappropriate”.
He said neither he nor Opposition leader Daniel Feetham would accept such tickets and urged other MPs to do the same.
Yesterday, in response to Chronicle questions, a spokesman for the Gibraltar Government insisted Mr Clinton was wrong in his assessment of the cost of the GMF.
The spokesman said Culture Minister Steven Linares would explain the festival costs – and its wider economic benefits – during a budget speech to Parliament today.
“Mr Linares will demonstrate that the statistic quoted by Mr Clinton is incorrect,” the spokesman added.
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