By Erika A Pozo

Transparency and accountability are the golden rules of governance. Together they convey an image of trustworthiness. A traditional cornerstone of democracy is the notion that each political representative and public official, individually or collectively, should be held accountable for their decisions, actions, and as has happened all too often, inactions.

The question is why is our government so reluctant to become fully transparent and accountable?

The true level of our public debt is hidden behind a complex web of creative accounting manoeuvres, off-balance sheet transactions and companies structured to manipulate the net result we eventually get to see! The last annual audited accounts which were grossly incomplete (material items of assets and liabilities missing from its statement of financial position) were dated 31 May 2016, and only presented to Parliament in January 2019!

Information must be delivered to Parliament and made public in a timely manner. The government’s current culture seems to lack robustness, professionalism and due care for our taxpayer! We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to corruption, cronyism or nepotism; our community has tolerated this far too long. Over the past 15 years or so, the electorate have borne witness to a lack of control and supervision over our public finances - enough is enough. Now is the time to tackle the trust deficit, and to protect our taxpayer once and for all.

Together Gibraltar will create the radical change the future of our public reporting needs. We aim to be the real pioneers in governmental accountability and transparency, and are ready to implement an action plan and establish a framework that will overhaul the status quo and open up our government, a framework ready to challenge and engage our government infrastructure to serve us better.

Integrity shall be the heartbeat of our politics, the politics of the future which we as a community deserve. We will deal with dishonest behaviour and encourage public integrity. We expect to generate considerable savings, money which will be better spent on health care, education, apprenticeships and our pensions.  

We have a comprehensive programme of governance requirements for our Ministries, covering policies, guidelines and standards. No minister will continue to have unfettered powers of decision, and no politically exposed person will be able to enter into any government contracts for their benefit. Our Parliament will have stronger tools to enhance powers of scrutiny and ensure it can hold our government to account.

At such a crucial time in our political history, and with the challenges Brexit may bring, it is time to safeguard our economy by securing our financial independence. Gibraltar can take advantage of various options to grow its GDP organically, without relying quite so heavily on extraction of wealth or industries, many of which said industries negatively impact our environment. However, before our economy can evolve further, we have a clear duty to be an open credible government, a government that ensures the responsible stewardship of its public finances. How can we restore trust and integrity to public life? We ask you to give us the mandate at the ballot box.

Erika A Pozo is a candidate for Together Gibraltar