Minister for Finance and Financial Services Edward Scicluna together with the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela met with social partners in preparation for the Recovery Budget which will be announced on Monday 8 June 2020.
Minister Scicluna explained how despite the spread of COVID-19, Malta recorded a growth in Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter of this year compared to last year. As a result, Malta has been ranked among those countries in the European Union which was least economically affected by the global pandemic. This positive result reflected the wide diversification of the Maltese economy, where the positive performance of the construction and manufacturing sectors as well as the financial, IT and professional sectors and sectors such as transport and housing offset the blow they sustained. This is thanks to the work of all those working in the field of health and the responsibility of the general public which has led us to avoid a total lockdown.
Minister Edward Scicluna also explained how although there was an increase in the number of people registering for work, the increase was relatively small compared to other Member States in the European Union. The total number of unemployed is also still quite low compared to previous years, with the number of people registering in April this year being almost half that recorded in 2012.
“The results we have achieved so far have confirmed that the financial packages that the Government has implemented so far, have been successful in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on corporate liquidity and safeguarding jobs. The Government will now be moving to the second phase of its plan, which is to present a Recovery Budget, which will help companies and families to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic now that the restrictive measures are being lifted. Thus, with this Budget, we will be helping the economy get back on its feet,” said Minister Edward Scicluna.
The Minister also spoke of the four financial instruments announced by the European Union and explained how although these are measures in the right direction, it remains to be seen how the European Union will finance this assistance. Funding must be fair and equal without compromising the competitiveness of small countries such as Malta.
In his introductory speech, the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela mentioned how after the Government reached a social pact within the MCESD, it kept its word and continued with its ongoing work to save jobs, and workers remain with decent wages and proper working conditions. He thanked the private sector, for giving their share, in this regard including the issue of top-up in the wages of their workers. He said that the sacrifices made by all, it is clear that is bearing fruit, as even when one compares the situation of Malta with that of other countries, the difference is significant. He encouraged the representatives of the employers and the workers, so that everyone continues to work together so that we move towards this new normality. He concluded by saying that through this budget, the Government will be continuing to stimulate the country’s economy. A budget that will give us a picture of where we are at the moment and that will complement the ‘war chest’ that the Government had at its disposal during the pandemic.