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Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has today published the Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2022/23 - 309/2022

May 03, 2022

The Bill provides for Consolidated Fund appropriation of expenditure for the year 2022/2023 in a sum not exceeding £553.m as well as £1m being provided for exceptional expenditure for the McGrail Inquiry.

A sum of £66.9m is provided for Improvement and Development Fund for the capital costs of Government maintenance and projects.

Additionally, £275.8m is sought for the recurrent expenditure of Public Undertakings. A sum of £6.6m is also provided for the capital expenditure of Public Undertakings.

The currently confidential draft Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2022/23 Book, which provides almost 300 pages of details of the revenue and expenditure set out in the Bill, has also today been circulated to all Members of Parliament by the Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP.

A courtesy copy has also been provided to His Excellency the Governor, as has been the case each year since Mr Picardo become Chief Minister.

The Estimates Book becomes public upon the commencement of the Budget debate in Parliament. The Government has also today published the Quarterly Accounts of the Covid 19 Response Fund.

The fund statement shows that £227.3m has already been attributed to this fund since the beginning of the pandemic up to 31 March 2021, with a further £135m contributed during the financial year which has just closed, 2021/22.

Mr Picardo said: “The preparation of the Estimates Book this year has been a mammoth task. The Book provides 300 pages of detailed information on all areas of Government expenditure and revenue. This is 100 pages more than the last Estimates book prepared by the GSD when they were in office which was only 195 pages, with much less information than we now provide.

“The team led by Financial Secretary has had to battle with Covid and the challenges of the OMICRON wave in dealing with all the detail that we provide in the most detailed, transparent and accountable exercise in public finance accounting in our history.

“I thank the whole team for the work they have put into the Estimates Book, the Appropriation Bill and the Covid Response Fund Quarterly Statement to ensure that that have all been available for circulation to Members of Parliament and publication, respectively, today.

“I look forward to debating the Appropriation Bill and these Estimates of Expenditure in Parliament during the course of the Budget debate this year, which is the ‘State of the Nation’ debate in our democracy.

“For now, I believe it is incumbent on me to report to our people immediately the final figures of the deficit for the year as at 31st March, which is £55.3m. As a result of the COVID pandemic net borrowing has increased to £652m after cash reserves of just shy of £120m. Although these are figures usually disclosed in the Budget debate, I think it is important in these exceptional times that people should have those figures hot off the press on the same day as we have shared them with Members of Parliament.

“In assessing those figures, the public will wish to have regard to the numbers in the quarterly Covid 19 Response Fund statement, published today also.

“Those show that the cost attributed to that fund since the pandemic begun is already over a third of a billion pounds, or over 15% of GDP in direct expenditure and lost revenue. That is huge and would be a problem for any economy, let alone an economy the size of Gibraltar. £362 million in total has been contributed to the COVID-19 Response Fund to 31 March 2022 of which £135m was contributed in the last financial year alone, which was not a year of recovery as many had wished and anticipated, but another year of lock downs and waves of new variants. This meant that economic recovery was also impaired and revenue did not return as expected to the traditional heads of revenue, such as duty and corporate taxation. That is a huge burden for any nation, especially a small nation like us.

“As we now face the two financial years before a General Election is due, we will work to return our economy to surpluses as soon as possible and to reduce the debt in order to ensure that we put our public finances back onto the sound footing on which they were when the pandemic begun.

“That is the work we are now embarked upon and on which I will say more during the Budget debate also.”