GSD unveils its three-pronged Pathway and key commitments to Transparency, Standards and Value for Money in getting Public Finances back on track and rebuilding taxpayer trust in Government. These measures which it would implement in Government would deliver greater transparency and curb the prospect of waste, abuse and corruption
There have been plenty of examples of why these measures are needed. We do not know transparently how your money is being spent. It is clear that there is a lack of accountability or Value for Money. There are obvious deficiencies as to how certain contracts or leases have been awarded with benefit obtained by parties close to the Government or Government Ministers. This needs addressing in a positive way and the GSD would do so in Government.
Some of the big commitments being announced today include an Investigation of how monies have been spent and flowed through Government companies; a law that would prevent parties who are politically compromised and close to the Government of the day from being awarded the benefit of public contracts and a number of measures to enhance value for money for the tax-payer.
We promise the following:
- An investigation and audit into the spending of all Government owned companies. A GSD Government will commission an independent investigation into spending by Government owned companies and the flow of monies through these. This will ensure clarity of spending and accountability. Millions of pounds are channelled via these companies and often without any clarity or explanation. It is time that the taxpayer should get that clarity.
The results of this investigation will be made public. This will happen immediately on being elected and will affect ALL Government and Gibraltar Development Corporation owned companies.
- Transparency In Tendering
The names of parties that tender for contracts will be published whether they are successful or not.
- A Public Register of Interests of Government Contracts
A robust and public Register of Interests will be established of any person or company seeking to tender for Government contracts or awarded a Government contract. There needs to be clarity of who seeks contracts or tenders. The persons behind companies or tenderers should be clear for all to see. The Register will be open to inspection.
Greater Powers for the Principal Auditor
Enhanced legal powers for the Principal Auditor to be combined with an obligation that the Principal Auditor must submit his Audit for particular financial years within 18 months of the close of a financial year. It is not acceptable that the last publicly available Principal Auditor’s report is for 2016 – 6 years ago. This means there is no effective accountability provided via this mechanism. To ensure the Principal Auditor can finalise his reports a future GSD Government will commit itself to take any supplementary appropriation bill within 6 months of the close of any financial year. Those commitments will be made legal obligations.
- An Anti-Abuse Law
We will introduce a specific law that controls or prevents persons closely or directly related to a Government Minister or on the Executive of the political party of the Government as defined in that law to tender for or be awarded any Government contract, lease or development or for any of those defined persons or a Minister to take the direct or indirect benefit of a Government contract, lease or development. These restrictions will also apply to companies and trusts the beneficiaries of which are those individuals.
- A Commissioner for Standards
The setting up of an independent Commissioner of Standards to investigate any possible breaches of the law or rules relating to interests, public contracts or tenders. The Commissioner will have a specific remit and legal powers to investigate abuse, corruption or breach of standards by any person.
- A Ministerial and Public Service Code of Conduct
The introduction of a clear and robust Code of Standards for Ministers and public servants. This will enhance standards in office, transparency and accountability. The Code will be made public and breach of the Code can lead to investigation and action by the Commissioner for Standards
- Value for Money
- A Commitment to Value for Money
The creation of a Value for Money team accountable to the Finance Minister to audit public spending on a value for money basis and ensure that any waste, abuse or corruption are stamped out. This will deliver greater value for money to the tax-payer to the benefit of everyone. It will mean greater financial resources can be released to social priorities and to those in greater need.
- A New Contracts Awards Panel
The appointment of a Contracts Award Panel for the award of high-value contracts the members of which will include lay persons and a person nominated by the Leader of the Opposition to enhance public and independent scrutiny.
- Stronger Monitoring of Government Contracts & Projects
The supervision of contracts and tenders will be strengthened and enhanced by a specific Monitoring Section which will form part of the Value for Money Team. Again this will ensure a greater delivery of efficiency and curb any abuses or waste. It will also deliver better performance in the interests of the taxpayer.
These are only some of the key commitments that we will make and put into place to ensure better accountability and transparency. They will work in tandem with other measures to put our public finances back on track from the perilous state they are in.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said:
“This is your money. You have a right to expect that your money is well spent and to know how the money borrowed in your name is being spent. You have a right to expect value for your money. You deserve that when your money is spent it is not wasted and any contracts awarded are not abused by individuals and that there are no corrupt practices. You have a right to expect that people do not benefit from politics.
The package of commitments being announced today will ensure that and will be a core commitment of a GSD Government. Enough is enough, people want and deserve transparency, greater controls on abuse and value for money and we will give it to them.”
Shadow Finance Minister Roy Clinton said:
“We need to get our Public Finances back on track and this means going back to basics on transparency, standards and value for money. These are the foundation stones on which the taxpayers trust in Government is built and they need to be strengthened given the public finance crisis we are facing. The GSD has a commitment to transparency and financial accountability that is solid and proven.”