Millions down the drain at a time of recession

Thinking allowed
There are many similarities between managing a Household Budget and a Government Budget. The number of pounds and bank accounts on the government books are far greater than those in the house but the same principles apply.

Save for a rainy day. Don't spend more than you earn but don't hoard resources. Invest in the future. Set priorities. Don't borrow money for everyday expenses.

In a sense, the biggest difference between family finances and government finances isn't how the money should be managed or even how much is in the bank, but the role of ownership.

If the Romero family overspends this year, Mum, Dad, Johnny and Jessica won't go on their Mediterranean Cruise next summer. If the Gomez household doesn't shell out the cash for preventative vehicle maintenance, they are the ones who will pay for a new engine instead of a weekend at the Torremolinos beach club.

On the political side, spending too much on one thing and too little on another doesn't have the same impact. The cumulative effect can make life more difficult for residents and cause electoral woes for those in office, but one dubious decision at a time doesn't usually hurt those who do the deciding.

Even politicians with the best of intentions – and the majority do have good intentions – demonstrate how difficult, if not impossible, it can be to have the same sense of accountability for money that isn't theirs.

Over the past few years, the public has been rightfully outraged and diabolically frustrated with the state of traffic and roads in Gibraltar. The apparent lack of funding and the absence of a properly construed and intelligently led traffic management plan have been mostly to blame. All this has had a reverberated affect on practically the whole community. Another similar issue which has frustrated many other people is the lack of finance towards parking areas, although only recently we have heard that something is to be done about this situation, but yet the lack of planning has had its effects!

Another area which is close to many peoples hearts is the disappearing site of green areas around the rock, green areas which have been lost to the numerous developments in every conceivable and open space around the place; here again there has been a very notable shortage of finance or lack of it for these Issues?

The lack of parks and other open recreational areas has obviously been at the determent of the public, who either have to venture into Spain to see some greenery, or satisfy their needs for parks and fields by sitting behind their computer and flicking through the internet pages of country-side scenes.

It’s all about money, politicians decide which projects are funded and those that are not, really it comes down to prioritising and the needs of the community, however here is where the conflict begins.

The Gibraltar Government recently announced it had spent £5.2m on the Theatre Royal in what was described as assorted fees relating to this empty site. Whatever assorted fees are there must have been a hell of a lot of them or whatever assortment of things they were they were bloody expensive. There are many people who feel that it is incomprehensible that over £5 million of tax payers’ money and in a middle of a financial recession has practically been thrown down the drain, with nothing to show for it!

£5 million pounds that could have funded many other more needy public projects, lake parks, green areas, improved roads and better parking and many Others. One would think the Government coffers were floating in cash with the way all this money has frittered away, a situation that has elicited almost nothing but negative feedback, and quite rightly so!

On another issue, many are looking at another financial drain of the public purse, the new Air Terminal and related works, and the affect this is also going to have on ‘Gibraltar’s Collective Bank Balance’. Another question being asked is has the necessary home-work on this massive development been properly completed, checked and double checked?

Gibraltar is not a rich nation as some people may think, and we really do have to look after our finances both in our daily individual lives at home, but particularly those people who are charged in looking after and spending the public's money, but like me there are many who find that some areas of public spending has this disproportionate feel about them!

Deficits and Surpluses come and go but fiscal imbalance is Worrying. It just becomes more noticeable during a recession!

The only real remedy is for the owners of Government resources to pay attention, and this includes most of us, if not the whole community. After all, it's our money?