Just as this edition went to press the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo QC, was addressing the annual dinner of the Accountants Association. Mr Picardo gave the Accountants a taster of what it is expected that he will say to Parliament next week when the Budget Debate is held.
Picardo has been clear in advocating prudence in all of his Budgets since he became Chief Minister. In each year, with Joe Bossano sitting next to him in Parliament, Picardo has repeatedly taken steps to increase the “rainy day funds” which the former Chief Minister and GSLP founder was famous for.
This year with elections more than two years away, any Government would not be pursuing feel good give aways. With Brexit negotiations just commenced, it would be foolish to expect that any measures to be announced in the Parliament will be anything other than designed to promote Gibraltar’s universal appeal as a place to do business.
If Gibraltar is not longer going to be a place from which businesses can access the Single Market on a tariff-free basis, then the case for Gibraltar as a hub for business has to be more roundly developed and based on attractions which go beyond access to the EU. Access to the UK market on terms identical to those available now is one important and attractive strand of what Gibraltar can rely on for the future. The Chief Minister told the Accountants dinner that this can be a basis for growth. What areas of business we can expect to attract will be something which Picardo’s speech next week may hint at.
In keeping with tradition, all Members of Parliament have had their Estimates Books for some months now, but they are unable to disclose the content of them until the Chief Minister of the day kicks off the debate in Parliament on Budget day. Now that is fixed for next Monday, the community will look forward to the shape of Gibraltar’s first proper Brexit Budget.