10th November 2022
The total cost of Gibraltar’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic stood at £386.7m as of June 30 this year, according
to the latest figures for the Covid-19 fund published by the Gibraltar Government on Thursday.
The latest accounts for the fund show spending of £24.3m between April 1 and June 30, mainly targeted at covering shortfalls in government revenue.
Prior to this latest spending, the cost of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic stood at just over £365m as of March 31.
“The cost of Covid is still accruing,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
“Although, in some ways, it has gone away as a disease, it has not gone away as a cost to the government and to the taxpayer.”
“We all need to be alive to that reality.”
Unlike in preceding quarters since the start of the pandemic, no payments were needed to cover shortfalls in income and company tax in the three months to June 30, suggesting some degree of recovery.
But £22.6m was needed to cover a shortfall in import duties during the period.
In terms of Covid-related payments to government departments and agencies, the most sizeable segment, as in previous statements, was to the Gibraltar Health Authority, which received just over £1.1m in the quarter under review.
Roy Clinton, the GSD’s shadow Minister for Finance, said the cost of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic in the current financial year had been budgeted at £40.1m to March 31, 2023.
“So in that context £24.3m means that 60% of the annual budget has been drawn in only the first quarter of this financial year,” he said.
“The details gazetted for 30 June 2022 show that the £24.3 million is broken down as £ 22.8 million in respect of lost revenue and £1.5 million of expense payments.”
“The lost revenue is in the main in relation to Import Duty of £ 22.6m which is already 75 % of the full year budget of £30m for that item.”
“The £1.5m of expense payments - mainly in respect of the GHA at £1.1m - is surprising given that only £120,000 of expense was budgeted for ‘other public undertakings’ for the full year 2022/23.”
“Looking at the overall picture it is concerning that yet again Import Duty revenue appears weaker than expected and the GHA has incurred over £1m of Covid-19 costs that were not anticipated.”
“We will be probing the £1.5m of expense payments in the next session of Parliament.”