CHIEF Minister Fabian Picardo called Gibraltar a ‘financial rock’ as he announced the British territory’s fast recovery from pandemic and Brexit woes during his budget speech in the British territory’s parliament.
He outlined integrity, stability, affordability and social justice as the four themes that guided this financial year’s budget.
“I am very pleased that once again this year this Budget will contain no austerity, because it will contain no cuts of jobs or services,” Picardo said.
“The income of the worst off in our community will grow… because the measure I announce will seek to do social justice above everything else.”
As part of an attempt to fight inflation, public sector workers in Gibraltar will get a lump sum of around £1,000.
Along with a tax reduction of 1%, recent savings have seen public coffers lose just £15 million in contrast to £45 million predicted for 2022/23.
Estimates point to a Gross Domestic Product £2.74 billion this financial year, a growth of 7.5%.
It put Gibraltar’s per capita GDP at around $103,300 – around third or fourth in the world going by 2023 estimates.
That is despite spending £160 million on schools which the Chief Minister said ‘are the envy of every nation in Europe and the world’.
He emphasized the increased spending in the last 11 years on mental health, care, the elderly, policing, housing and the COVID-19 response in the last term.
He claimed the Opposition had accepted the need for it but is now moaning ‘ashamedly’ about the extra debt burden.
The four main areas of the economy are tourism (20%), financial services (20%), remote gambling (28%) and shipping (10%).
Picardo stated that the debt to GDP ratio dropped to 22.4% from 25.6% and predicted it would have a £2.5 million surplus.
He said this was lower than most European countries and less than the GSD in 2011 when the GSLP/Liberals first got into office, even after the pandemic.
Cash reserves in the Savings Bank and the Community Care fund were now at £67.5 million and 38 million respectively, he added.
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