The exchanges between Sir Joe Bossano, the Minister for Financial Stability and the GGCA President Wendy Cumming as to who is responsible for, and why there is a potential £40 million Budget overspend raises serious concerns as to the Budget process and public finance controls. The Minister for Public Finance is the Chief Minister, not Sir Joe Bossano and it is thus for the Chief Minister to explain how it is that he has so badly lost control of the Budget process such that our public finances are in meltdown.
Roy Clinton the GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance stated the following:
“It is a serious matter in a year when a deficit of £51 million has been projected that we are hearing that not only is there likely to be a £40 million overspend taking the deficit to £91 million, but that no one seems to be able to explain how this has been allowed to happen. Sir Joe places the legal responsibility with the Civil Service and the GGCA in turn suggest Ministers were complicit in authorising overspends.
It would appear that the estimates book presented to Parliament for the financial year 2021/22 was either over optimistic in the £75 million savings attempted, or was fundamentally flawed in excluding contracted expenditure or other unavoidable costs.
The GSD has in recent years voted against the appropriation bill because of the lack of transparency over money spent via Government Companies. It is now concerning that the Estimates book presented to Parliament could in itself be unreliable. At short notice before the Budget debate last year members were issued with replacement Estimates books due to reclassifications and corrections, it now seems the entire Budget process may have been undermined by unreliable or simply wrong numbers. It is clear that there is a need for a fundamental review of the way our Budget is prepared and presented, a review the GSD is committed to in our back to basics and back on track strategy.
It is simply unbelievable that in the year of the biggest deficit in our history the Chief Minister cannot even keep to the discipline of his own budget figures and has allowed a massive overspend of £40 million which would almost double the projected deficit. How can he be trusted to get Gibraltar out of this crisis in our public finances?
The Chief Minister, as Minister for Public Finance, now needs to take full responsibility for this Budget failure and explain to the taxpayer what has happened.”