Tepid reactions to 2020 Budget

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

For.Um

Forum Union Maltin described the budget as ‘limited’ and skirts the challenges which the For.Um says are still pending. It complained that the budget does not address the lack of educators, nurses and social workers as well as the implementation of a work life balance.

Union of Professional Educators

Union of professional Educators said that while the surplus is praiseworthy, it feels “…that one of the greatest challenges currently facing our country, is that of a shortage of Educators practicing within the educational system. Thus we feel, that it would have been wiser that the government done more to address this issue.”

Malta Union of Teachers

The Malta Union of Teachers complained that its proposals for, among other things, non-state schools be given more educational resources and that schools receive substantial investment in air conditioning, ventilation and insulation, were not considered. “This budget was too limited in the educational sector and instead initiatives which have been mentioned in several other instances, were trotted out again” said the initial reaction of the MUT. It warned that the problems in the sector, untreated as they are, will aggravate.

Malta Developers Association

The Malta Developers Association (MDA) on the other hand said that it was highly satisfied that its proposals for the Budget have been adopted by the government. MDA said it was pleased to note that the time limits of tax incentive schemes introduced in previous budgets were extended. These include the first-time and second-time buyer schemes; the incentives for those who buy property in Gozo and in village cores; and the incentives for parents who donate their business to their children.

“Other measures introduced in this budget in response to requests submitted by MDA include tax incentives for all contractors who invest in new machinery and the increase from €150,000 to €175,000 in the value of property bought by first-time buyers that is exempt from stamp duty. This will continue to help all those who decide to invest in their first home. MDA is also very satisfied to note the reduction on duty from 35% to 15% on contracts when property rights are ceded (cessjoni)” said the MDA.

Malta Employers Association

The MEA said that thenational budget presented for 2020 is a reflection of a strong macro-economic stability, resulting from a budget surplus over the past few years, falling public debt which is expected to reach 40% of GDP in 2020, unemployment which stands at 3.5%, relatively low inflation and a robust economic growth. The Malta Employers’ Association said that it has always expressed itself against the increase in optional leave, as Malta already has among the highest allocation of leave days in the world. The day’s increase in optional leave will erode our competitiveness. The pronounced measure regarding outsourced work, said MEA,  needs to be discussed in detail as it can create inequalities within companies.

“Another situation that needs to be addressed is the reputational damage Malta is suffering from due to the bad publicity caused by numerous scandals. Our current level of economic performance is heavily dependent on our reputation as a safe investment destination that will sustain sensitive sectors such as financial services and igaming. The issue of correspondent banks needs an urgent resolution, and the fall in placing in the competitiveness index, as shown in the Global Competitiveness Index is an eye opener that we can never be complacent about our successes. Yet the budget speech confirms this governments’ attempts to break into new sectors, such as blockchain to further diversify the economy. This diversification is one of our major strengths, considering the size of our economy” concluded the MEA.

MHRA

Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, MHRA said that Budget 2020 keeps building on the economic principles established over the past recent years.  MHRA commended what it described as Government’s concrete initiatives to further refine and embellish the tourism product and further spread amongst the many the benefits generated from this important economic sector.  

“Sustainability however remains the name of the game and MHRA considers imperative that Government launches its vision 2025.  Limiting factors such as human resources need to be taken into consideration in this vision 2025” concluded  MHRA.

The Malta Chamber        

 In a preliminary reaction to the Budget speech, the Malta Chamber noted that the Budget for 2020 was set against a backdrop of an economy that is performing well. The Chamber noted that its calls for Government not to introduce any surprise measures and new taxes were largely heeded. At the same time, in the light of Malta’s recent slippage in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index by two places, the Chamber expected more investment in resources to strengthen the shortcomings exposed, namely the soundness of institutions, skills, market structure and financial systems. The Chamber noted the announcement and decision to add a further day of vacation leave in lieu of public holidays falling on a weekend. In the light of the fact that this is the third day of additional leave being granted during this legislature, the Chamber reiterates its position that this will further intensify the cost of employment for Maltese companies, which are increasing to levels of concern particularly to those economic sectors which are expanding at below-average pace.

UHM – Voice of the workers

UHM described the budget as one which was afraid to take on the challenge of transport, the challenge of foreign workers and the challenge of catering for future pensions. The union said that it expected government to treat these issues seriously.UHM on the other hand applauded the decrease in taxation for pensioners as well as the substantial COLA increase.

GWU

The GWU expressed the opinion that the wealth and economic stability which has been in place over the past seven years has led government to accede to its proposal for equal pay for equal work particularly among the sub-contractors to government work. This, said the Union, is a victory and it must now be extended to the private sector. The GWU expressed itself optimistic that the ultimate goal of equal work and equal pay will be finally reached.