Continuity is the hallmark of the 2024 Budget. It builds on previous budgets to shield the economy from global headwinds and promote further growth, creating more wealth. Previous budgets introduced measures such as the additional cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) mechanism, pension increases, and tax exemption schemes for first-time and second-time homebuyers, which were enhanced this year.
Speaking with The Journal, economic consultant Mark Grech notes how the Budget 2024 is, like the ones before it, a people-centered exercise that allocates the country’s financial resources in a fair and equitable manner to meet the needs and aspirations of all – leaving no one behind. Measures have been announced taking into consideration different sections of the population: families, workers, pensioners and the elderly, students, those who are buying their own house or flat for the first time, persons with disabilities, children, and even animals.
“The administration is on the right path in focusing on ways to continue addressing rising inflation, a worrying factor that affects people’s quality of life but that is thankfully forecast to decline,” says Grech. “For next year, the government is allocating a further €350 million public funds to help people afford energy and fuel, besides taking other measures to boost purchasing power and, consequently, economic growth. This will generate revenue that can be reinvested in people’s well-being and prosperity.”
Grech notes that, this being a democratic socialist administration, it also made it a point of taking measures to help elevate the standard of living of that section of the population that has become exposed to poverty and social exclusion as a result of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The additional COLA is just one example, with 95,000 families to be reached in 2024 as oppoed to this year’s 45,000.
But that’s not all: while committed to maintaining economic growth, the government is also addressing other long-term challenges, such as the declining Maltese fertility rate, by increasing birth and adoption bonuses from €500 for the first-born or adopted child to €1,000 for subsequent children. In so doing, while providing financial assistance to families, it is encouraging society to address the issue of its declining birth rate.
Mark Grech draws attention to the fact that the government is striking a balance between supporting economic growth and maintaining financial discipline, as evidenced by the measures announced yesterday, which are designed to boost consumer spending and business investment while keeping the national debt and the Budget deficit under control. A sustainable debt level is essential for ensuring that our economy and livelihoods are protected in the face of unforeseen events, as we have learnt during the pandemic and now, as we battle the global inflation crisis.
Grech is confident that the successful implementation of Budget 2024 will lay the groundwork for a Budget 2025 that, in a year’s time, continues building on Malta’s progress in achieving its financial, economic, and social goals.
Photo credit: servizz.gov