Getting over the Shock and Moving on

It’s happened. Our worst fears have come to pass. The UK has opted to leave the European Union, dragging us in Gibraltar along with it. It’s heartbreaking, soul destroying, even frightening. Some of us will be angry, bitter, resentful. Others will be cursing those who put us in this situation against our will.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s a bit like a relationship breakdown. We’ve all been there before. Felt those emotions, that helplessness at being torn apart from something we wanted, without being given a choice in the matter.

And the curious thing is, dealing with these latest developments will feel a little like getting over that relationship. The first step is acceptance. We didn’t want this, we didn’t ask for it, but this is where we are now. The gut-wrenching pain will pass. Time will help us get over the shock, and we will move on.

And that’s the good thing. We have time on our side. Nothing will happen for a good few years to come as the UK Government negotiates new trade and political agreements with Europe. The Referendum vote has sent us on a new journey, a new challenge. Where we go from here is in our hands. We’ve fought for our rights many times before. No-one has ever handed anything to us on a plate.

When we were evacuated from our home during the Second World War, my father fought tooth and nail to bring us back, and paved the way for an unprecedented development of our democracy.

When the MOD sold 80% of its naval base for spare parts, Joe Bossano came up with an economic plan to make sure we would survive financially.

When the UK and Spain carved out a cunning plan to share sovereignty, Sir Peter Caruana delivered us with a spirited campaign which saw us take on the world.

And these are just the headlines. We’ve earned so much more through the dedication and passion of our people. Our enfranchisement in the European Elections. Our place among the football world’s elite. Our status as the world leader for bluechip gaming giants. All the time not just surviving, but thriving, and developing as a people.

And here we are again. Another crossroads, another challenge. We must place our faith in our elected politicians who have steered us through these rocky roads in the past. And we shall cast our eyes towards a bright and prosperous future.

Together.

As we have always done.

Open Budgets Transforms Lives

As the Chief Minister has reminded in his past annual Budget Addresses, it is “about more than just numbers”, “more than just an address on the second reading of an Appropriation Bill ”, it is a “State of the Nation Address”.

An Appropriation Bill essentially authorises the government to spend money, while a State of the Nation Address provides the Chief Minister with the opportunity to account to Gibraltarians and to Parliament what had happened during the 2015/16 financial year, and to set government’s key policy objectives and deliverables for the 2016/17 financial year.

According to The International Budget Partnership, whose slogan is “Open Budgets Transforms Lives”, “government budgets are at the core of development. It is the government’s most powerful economic tool to meet the needs of its people, especially those who are poor and marginalised. The most well-meaning public policy has little impact … until it is matched with sufficient public resources to ensure its effective implementation.”

 The International Budget Partnership also proposes what they call a Citizens Budget, for which they define five steps to produce, the second step I believe to be critical – “Holding a consultation with potential users”. The Partnership also proposes a process of Budget Literacy, with which they mean that, ultimately, governments should aim to ensure that the public has a firm grasp of the many ways that the budget affects their lives. I propose this as an initiative for Gibraltar to adopt.

In conjunction with this initiative, it is not unknown for leading developing economies’ governments to invite their citizens to provide them with suggestions on matters that they may want to be addressed in the Budget. As the date for this year’s Budget Address is the first week of July, I thought that there might be value in soliciting your comments on what you would want addressed in the 2016/2017 Budget Address. This, particularly since the Budget Address is more than a month off.

To send me your comments or requests, simply log on to my blog marlenehassan.wordpress.com or send me an email to contactmarlenemp@gmail.com