The Procurement of Political Responsibility for the Budget
The 1989 Budget speech could arguably be considered as Mr Bossano’s first true economic budget as Chief Minister. In it, he established a completely different tone to anything that had ever been seen in Gibraltar’s political history. He stated:
“We assume political responsibility for the Budget and for the direction that the economy has been to a degree that was never the case in the past under the previous Government where the main responsibility for defending the economic policies used to fall on the Financial and Development Secretary.”
Mr Bossano placed great importance on the need for modernisation across all areas of the economy, particularly within the administration itself. The 1989 Improvement and Development Fund would be increased to £22.5m, which the Chief Minister stated was the greatest ever sum of money allocated by the Government from its own resources. This was to go towards:
- The computerisation of the records of all residents of Gibraltar;
- An upgrade in equipment, furniture and computer systems used by the Government with the aim of increasing productivity throughout all departments. It is worth knowing that these were times where Government employees were still using Imperial pre-war type writers;
- Half of the £22.5m to go towards the reclamation works (including the construction of Montagu Gardens) and associated infrastructure necessary;
Mr Bossano placed greater importance to the Employment and Training Board with a host of new developments in the pipeline:
- An analysis of the demographic make-up of Gibraltar’s labour force was to be made so as to ensure that any policy put in place would be an efficient one. Those who were training in certain areas were ensured that available employment was available by the end of their apprenticeship;
- The introduction of a policy whereby all employment contracts must be in written form; and also
- The active encouragement of women in the labour force.
Mr Bossano also highlighted some significant changes with regards to the education policy, by increasing the number of scholarships awarded for those pursuing university education. In order for this policy to be successful however, the Chief Minister stressed the importance of also having in place a strategy for absorbing graduates back into the labour force.
The Chief Minister also renewed his commitment to promoting Gibraltar abroad, a commitment cemented by the opening of a Washington and Hong Kong office as well as plans to organise a visit of non-British MEP’s to Gibraltar.
“We are absolutely convinced that marketing and selling Gibraltar is fundamental and that the investment that we want to bring and the wealth that we want to bring will not come in the volumes in which we want to bring it, other than by a conscious marketing effort.”
“We should also examine whether we can start putting together a delegation of non-British Euro MP’s, which we feel very strongly is an important part of the canvassing that we need to do, so that we do not rely entirely on British Members of Parliament, but we start putting our message across to other nationalities represented in the European Parliament.”
In his capacity as Chief Minister, Mr Bossano announced his intention to set up a regulatory mechanism akin to the Financial Services Commission of the Channel Islands. Its purpose was to act as an advisory body to the Government in their overhaul of Gibraltar’s financial policies. This was something that Mr Bossano had proposed as early as 1980.