The responsible choice for you.
Already a week has been passed since the presentation of next year’s budget by Minister Tonio Fenech. Too many discussions have been held but the general feeling was very positive. The social partners too felt that on balance, this budget was well calibrated. Besides that, the budget was addressing some of the electoral promises which were assured by the PN during the last electoral campaign in 2008.
Next year’s budget has been presented in a very arduous context, with larger EU economies shrinking, unemployment rates on the increase, decrease in government expenditures especially in health, education and environment, and deficits to their highest levels. Some of the EU countries like Greece and Spain even requested the EU for a bailout help in order to inject money in their economies. In Malta, this was not the case. For while the Maltese economy recovered stronger than expected, increase in public expenditure, increase in direct investment, increase in employment rates, the deficit has always been on the decrease, in line with EU agreements. This means that we have always tried to take the most responsible choice, for you and for the country.
The Maltese sound finance situation is one of the significant keys to direct investment, increase in employment rates and reduction in taxes. Taking the income tax rate in context, in 2009, this had been lowered at all stages. Last year’s budget had also decreased the income tax for all the employed parents. Income tax was also reduced for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in order to invest more and create new job opportunities. Next year’s budget continues in the same wavelength. The upper income tax rate is to be reduced from 35% to 25% over a period of three years as had been pledged during the last election PN manifest.
Next year’s responsible budget is to extend the MicroInvest scheme. For while the Small and Medium Enterprises with ten employees were benefitting from a reduction in their income tax, as from next year, SMEs with thirty employees are to benefit from this same scheme. More than this, the government is also taking care of families with one or more children. For the second consecutive year, the minimum children’s allowance is to be increased by a further hundred euros. The budget also addresses youths and property buyers. The stamp duty fees for the first time buyers and for those who will change their property is to be further reduced from the current 5% (up to €116,000) to 3.5% (up to €150,000). The budget also take note of allowances for the elderly (over 78 years) residing alone or with their family who are to receive a sum of three hundred euros.
With responsible choices and sound finances, the government is to invest more in health and education so that everyone would live a healthier and longer life. The government is investing more money in health precaution and cure, increase in free and quality health services. The budget is allocating more money against cancer with innovative treatments and medications, more advanced health equipment and finally with a new oncology hospital. The Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme (POYC) is to be further extended to additional localities and free IVF services are to be made available from the Mater Dei.
In education, the government invests at all academic levels, from the primary to the tertiary levels including scholarship schemes. Today, we have the highest participation rate of children with disability in mainstream schools. Furthermore, we have also the highest rate of students (83%) which continue to study after the completion of their Secondary Education Certificate (SEC). Stipends are offered to each student. New school facilities are to be developed at different localities such as, Paola, Pembroke, Kirkop and Santa Venera.
The responsible choices being taken in education mean that youths will have more job opportunities with better salaries.
Muscat’s reply for budget 2013
Putting aside a golden opportunity to explain his plans, Muscat chose to spend an almost two hour speech reading a list of what he defined as government failures during the past 5 years. Not even one simple solution or concrete proposal was presented in Parliament.
Once again, Muscat did not disclose his plans for reducing the water and utility rates. Nor did he tell us if after all his plans were both for electricity and (or) water. He did not reveal when, how and for whom the utility rates are to be reduced. He just repeated his words that such proposals are to be made public once the date of the next general election would be announced.
This was a very good budget. Even Muscat did acknowledge this fact. It is ironical, however, that while Muscat has agreed to retain the main budget structure and measures, both positives and negatives, he is to vote against. Deficient in a pro-active long term strategy, Muscat wants to use the PN budget as a good platform for his government. He wants to be the Prime Minister implementing this positive budget.
Unfortunately, Muscat is promising everything to everyone. He is promising heaven on earth without the slightest idea of how he is to finance his proposals. On the other hand, this budget is full of concrete (and not wild) proposals, schemes and incentives in order to drive this country for the next year and beyond. The change that we may have might not be a change for the better after all, but rather for the worse.
Following Muscat’s reply for budget 2013, more than ever, it is with the PN in government that you really know where to stand.
Ingrid Brownrigg is a PN Candidate on the 3rd District and can be reached on: http://www.facebook.com/ingridbrownrigg.pn