Tuesday, January 11, 2005

New Year Message by Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano

Last week saw the start of the 1st year of the 4th century of a non-Spanish Gibraltar, and the way to make sure our grandchildren are there to celebrate the next centenary is the sound management of our collective finances.

Just like in 1988 we laid the foundations for the new economy that exists today, so now we should develop new initiatives to ensure the survival of our people into the future, outside the frontiers of Spain.

The domestic side of this policy is concerned with meeting the employment, housing and health needs of our people and in providing financial security for our senior citizens.

No doubt we shall soon again hear a fanfare of self-congratulation about the opening of the hospital, which you were told a year ago was then imminent. This hospital is housed in a magnificent building, which was designed as luxury offices to attract new businesses to Gibraltar. At a cost of £55m, excluding its kitchen, which is housed elsewhere, it has been converted to receive St Bernard’s, which starts migrating downwards, towards the waterfront, next month. Gibraltar could have had a brand new, purpose-built hospital at half the cost and in half the time and Europort would have still been there to accommodate inward investment. This kind of poor decision making costs money, and like in any other badly managed organisation, it shows up in operating losses.

Because the present Government has no economic policies and no sense of direction, all we can see is a repetition of the same electoral promises year after year, of which, through the passage of time, some get done. Our job is to get rid of the smoke screens and propaganda and show you the true picture.

Two years ago I predicted that we would face an early election. A few months later I accused the GSD Government of deliberately understating the level of spending in the 2003 Budget. This had predicted for the year of the election a surplus of £6.7m. In November, when the election took place, the GSD failed to tell the electorate the true state of Government finances. A few weeks later, last January, Mr Caruana told you that in 2004 the Government would increase revenue, that is indirect taxes, so that they could continue to operate a prudent policy of healthy Budget surpluses. However, in the Budget that followed in 2004 he defended the Government’s position and said the disappearance of the surpluses was deliberate and had been planned by the Government. The contradiction in these two positions is obvious
From The Gibraltar Chronicle - The Independent Daily First Published 1801 - More...

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