Prime Minister Robert Abela claimed that this administration has managed to do what no previous administration has been able to do and when faced with an unprecedented economic crisis, instead of taking austerity measures as previous administrations have done, this government presented the best budget in the history of our country.
Dr Abela said this at a press conference at the end of the presentation of the 2021 Budget with the theme ‘Maltin b’Saħħitna ’l Quddiem’ together with Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and the Minister for Finance and Financial Services, Edward Scicluna.
The Prime Minister said that this budget’s biggest expenditure is on health, social services and on public investment. “Not only have we kept our our word on what we had promised, we delivered even more,” said the Prime Minister, noting how the Nationalist Government, when faced with a much smaller international crisis than the one the government is currently facing, had quickly backtracked on the promise to reduce income tax.
“Not only did we deliver the tax refunds we promised, we increased them by more than a third of what we had promised,” said Dr Abela. He also pointed out that this government, in the face of the pandemic, has given pensioners a threefold increase in the cost of living promised by a Nationalist Government.
He said people knew where they stood with this government. He said that with great honesty and responsibility, he is fulfilling his promises. He said that everything announced in the Budget could be carried out because we have a strong country, with a resilient economy that in the midst of a pandemic has been creating jobs for four months, so much so that unemployment has fallen by more than a thousand.
The Prime Minister said that after seven years of prosperity, there was no doubt that this government would also take care of families in times of challenge. In fact, he mentioned several practical examples of how they will be helped. He mentioned how a couple with two children earning the minimum wage not only saved their jobs, but in addition to their in-work benefit, children’s allowance, tax refund check, vouchers, they will receive € 880 more. He said that in 2021 they will receive the equivalent of more than another month’s income.
The Prime Minister added that this budget also took into account pensioners. He said that this government not only kept its promise to increase pensions by € 8 by the end of the legislature, but with today’s increase it has already seen an increase of € 11.25. That means one and a half times what we promised, said Prime Minister Robert Abela, recalling that the legislature has yet to end.
He mentioned how a couple who depend on the minimum pension will get a total increase of € 750 thanks to an increase in the pension, in supplementary aid and vouchers. The Prime Minister added that the government is also thinking of the middle class, referring to it as the economic engine propelling the economic miracle of our country.
He said that a typical middle-class couple will receive an increase in the children’s allowance, an increase in the tax refund, another set of vouchers, help in tax credits if investing in a private pension, which in total amounts to € 930 more, i.e. the equivalent of an additional month of available average income.
Dr Abela reiterated that this is a pro-market government and is therefore helping businesses by extending the wage supplement scheme. He said the government has again announced new aid schemes for the industry, mainly in manufacturing. It shoudl be noted that these schemes are in addition to those announced in the Economic Regeneration Plan, and beyond the largest investment in industrial infrastructure, Malta Enterprise will continue to strengthen its manufacturing schemes including loans with preferential interest rates and flexibility in the use of tax credits. At the same time, he stressed that if more aid is needed, the government has the means to further support businesses.
Dr Abela listed ten measures from the budget that reflect the wishes of the Maltese and Gozitans, among them that our country will be among the first to receive the vaccine, the increase in tax refunds which will boost families’ income by € 16 million, the second issue of vouchers with an investment of € 50 million, the improvement of the children’s allowance with an additional expenditure of € 3 million to 40,000 families and the increase in pensions which is three times that of the cost of living.
The Prime Minister stated that in order for these benefits to be sustainable, we must safeguard the productive capacity of our country and therefore the government has announced that it will continue with the COVID-19 Wage Supplement, which in his words is the best safeguard a Maltese government has ever used to defend our country’s workers.
He said that to protect what we have achieved, in the midst of the pandemic the government embarked on the largest industrial infrastructure project in the history of our country of € 450 million. He mentioned that all this must be carried out through a better balance with the environment and the greatest evidence of this is the promise that by 2050 we will make our country carbon-neutral.
Dr Abela concluded by saying that the Maltese and the Gozitans are a successful people.
“Never before prior to this pandemic have we had to be so proud of our abilities, ” while asking how can one be ashsamed to say that he is Maltese. “I am proud to be Maltese, proud of my country, proud of this Gozitan and Maltese people,” said the Prime Minister, noting that our health sector has worked miracles compared to that of larger countries.
He said that this year will go down in history when people have prevailed against unexpected challenges and when together we accomplished much more than we could ever achieved. The Prime Minister concluded by saying that this is a budget of hope, courage and reassurance so we can look to a better future.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne said the budget showed the social credentials of the government. He said that despite the pandemic, the budget is leaving hundreds of euros in people’s pockets.
“With this budget, tomorrow the people will wake up better than they did this morning,” said the Deputy Prime Minister, adding that the coming years will be successful again thanks to the sound economic system we have started in recent years.
He said everyone will benefit from this budget, including families, pensioners and businesses.
“This is a wealthy budget that shows our social heart even when there are difficult challenges,” concluded the Deputy Prime Minister.
The Minister for Finance and Financial Services, Edward Scicluna mentioned that each measure in the Budget it is intended to allow a return both in terms of economic growth and in the distribution of wealth to those with a low income. He said the government was investing € 50 million to further lift people out of poverty, including the elderly and people with disabilities and low incomes.
He mentioned the investment of another € 50 million in the voucher scheme that will help all families. He said they will give an immediate return which will have a big effect on the economy essential in today’s situation.
“This is a successful balance that binds the present to the future with a strong focus on the green economy and the digital sector that reaches all sectors with a commitment to major investment in infrastructure in every field,” concluded Minister Scicluna.