Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna discussed the vision for the forthcoming Budget 2018 with the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD), prior to the official launching of the Pre-Budget document.
Minister Scicluna gave a detailed economic and fiscal review achieved by the government to date and presented the Ministry for Finance’s projections for the coming years, whereby economic growth is expected to remain above the EU average, inflation is expected to be moderate, and employment growth to remain robust. The Finance Minister noted that there are no real concerns about wage inflation at present, given the supply of foreign labour which has eased the problem of labour shortages in certain sectors. Nevertheless, the Government will continue to enhance the quality of the labour force and tackle skills mismatches in the Maltese labour market. It will also seek to further reduce the inactivity rates particularly amongst women.
Now that Malta has a strong and vibrant economy, we need good infrastructure to complement it and to avoid escalating congestion costs, the Minister added.
The Minister for Finance also gave a brief explanation of the thrust for the forthcoming 2018 budget which will be presented in the following months. Despite the fact that next year’s budget will focus on infrastructure and related areas, it will also include social solidarity measures, explained Minister Edward Scicluna.
In her opening remarks, Minister for European Affairs and Equality Helena Dalli said that the recent reforms within MCESD will allow for a wider involvement of all interested parties. Dr Dalli also highlighted the government’s commitment to compensate workers for holidays that fall on weekends as a priority for the current legislature and said that a discussion will be initiated shortly regarding this matter.
Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia said that MCESD is the best platform for consultation with civil society, and stakeholders must be equipped with the resources they need to operate effectively. The consultation process must be results-oriented so that social responsibility develops in line with economic advancement. The Government has successfully demonstrated its understanding of the importance of social dialogue during the past legislature and will carry on its work in collaboration with civil society to achieve tangible positive outcomes.
During the meeting, the first part of which was open to the media, social partners gave their views on the current performance of the economy and expressed their views on issues to be tackled by the budget.