Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will not be leaving his post after this budget. Addressing a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, Muscat bluntly replied ‘no’ when asked if this was his last budget, which was followed by an applause from the government MPs seated behind the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.
On Monday, Finance Minister Scicluna read out the budget in parliament.
During the press conference, Muscat stressed that the budgetary measures announced tonight were aimed at rewarding the hardworking Maltese and Gozitan families, citing the measure on reducing tax on overtime, among others. He added the budget is costing the government millions.
Muscat spoke of the increase in pensions, explaining that the elderly will not only receive the cost of living adjustment but they will receive an increase of a total €7 per week. Adding that if the economy is on track, then the government will be able to increase pensions for the elderly also next year.
A pension for differently able individuals which is equivalent to the minimum wage was also announced on Monday. Muscat described the measure as a ‘crucial point’ in the government’s legacy of social justice.
‘The baby present‘
Muscat also spoke of the newly announced child bonus, describing it as ‘an additional present’, he said that new families will be helped with a €300 bonus, saying that this too will go down in the legacy of Labour-led administrations and children’s allowance.
On the subject of helping out new families, Muscat said that the first time buyer scheme has increased while those of a certain age who cannot afford the down payment on a property, the government will lend them up to €17,500 without interest. Instead of renting a property, they could become homeowners themselves, Muscat insisted.
A budget that is imbued in our ethos – Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the budget for 2020 is an exercise in substantiating the ethos of the Labour Party in government. He said that the increase in pensions and the pensions for the disabled are testimony to the social legacy of the Labour administration.
‘In other countries, the people would be happy when their government does not increase their taxes,’ Muscat said. For the third consecutive budget there was no increase in taxes, with surplus projected for next year.
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said that the foundations of a more successful future has been laid in the budget. He echoed Muscat saying that the budget aims at awarding hardworking individuals. Fearne proceeded to mention some of the measures, which included the addition of medicines under the POYC scheme. These will include medicine used in treating cardiovascular diseases, HIV and prostate cancer, among others.
“The new 2,400 housing units which will be built, should stabilize the rent prices,” Fearne maintained.
The budget shows that the government is capable of renewing itself – Scicluna
‘The impression I got from this budget, is that the government is capable of renewing itself,’ Scicluna said.
Economic growth brought with it new challenges which were not present before, Scicluna observed.
During his brief address, Scicluna said that however, the country has also new opportunities which other states have not ventured into. New niches such as Esports which could be the iGaming of tomorrow.