The GSD’s decision to vote against the budget was negative “gesture politics” based on “spurious” allegations of hidden corporate borrowing, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told Parliament yesterday in closing the budget session.
Mr Picardo said the GSD had contributed nothing positive to the budget debate and had not even responded to the measures announced by the government, relying instead on prepared speeches that displayed “a lack of imagination and vision”.
He dismissed GSD concerns that the government was “hiding” capital expenditure by channelling it through government-owned companies, insisting the government had been transparent about its plans and that the mechanisms it was using had been “invented” by the GSD.
And he rebutted criticism that he had engaged in “financial trickery” to make Gibraltar’s public finances appear healthier than they are.
“I’m not the king of spin,” Mr Picardo said.
“I cannot spin a surplus certified by the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance, and I don’t need to.”
The GSD had defended its decision not to vote for the budget by insisting it failed to present a clear and transparent picture of public finances, hiding borrowing from public scrutiny and saddling future generations with debt.
But the Chief Minister said the GSD’s decision to vote against the Appropriation Bill was a serious matter.
Should the government for whatever reason not be able to field the needed votes to get the Bill through, Mr Picardo said, the effect would be no money available to pay for Gibraltar’s recurrent expenditure.
“This is not frivolous,” Mr Picardo said.
“They are saying no as a silly gimmick.”
“It’s gesture politics, but it’s very dangerous to say no when they mean yes.”
Were the GSD position to prosper, he added, there would be no money to pay for Gibraltar’s essential public services.
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