“Malta’s most social Budget ever” – PM Robert Abela

“Tonight, we have shown that while we remain the most credible political force on the economy in our country, we believe that progress should not only be measured by gross domestic product, but also the well-being of those most in need. This is the budget with the largest amount of social measures in history.”

Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela made this declaration as he was addressing the press, moments after Finance Minister Clyde Caruana presented next year’s Budget.  

The Prime Minister said that the Budget for 2022 reflects the priorities of the government, and the people – social justice in a country that continues to create new opportunities, in a better environment.

Looking back at the last two years, PM Abela noted that things were not easy, with a new administration taking office in difficult political circumstances and a pandemic. “But, because we worked together as one people, today we can talk about the Malta we want to leave for our children.”

The Prime Minister referred to the situation being faced by other European citizens, with higher utility and fuel prices, unemployment, rising taxes and austerity. On the other hand, the Maltese government continued to work to protect people from these burdens.

Social Justice

Referring to pensioners as “the people who built our Malta”, the Prime Minister said that increases in pensions and supplementary aid form a crucial part of this Budget. This, together with access to more medicines, and more support.

He gave an example of a couple aged over 80 years, living at home who will benefit from an increased income of more than €1,100, apart from an additional €2,500 increase in previous Budgets.

The Budget for 2022 reflects the priorities of the government, and the people.

More benefits also to families having children with disabilities, with the removal of means testing for disability assistance.

“This is what we want to leave for our children. A Malta and Gozo committed to social justice, where everyone is given the chance to improve their situation,” Abela said.

The Prime Minister went on to list the affordable housing initiatives, including the Equity Sharing scheme, New Hope and the unprecedented investment in social accommodation, that will lead to the lowest waiting list in history. We want to leave a Malta where owning a home is a feasible target for more people, the PM added.

Investing in people

Prime Minister Abela said that it’s time for Malta to renew its employment policy and focus more on improving skills.

“Just as we have invested and will continue to invest in physical infrastructure, we will invest heavily in training.”

On stipends, the Prime Minister said that whereas in other countries, students and their families face burdens leading to social injustice, the Maltese government is giving students the biggest increase, beyond the Cost of Living Adjustment.

Turning on to income tax, PM Abela said that this budget goes a step further than previous ones. Moreover, tax refunds have been increased to between 60 – 140, with lowest income people receiving larger amounts. This, together with a reduction in income tax rate on part-time work and overtime.  

On the in-work benefit measure, the Prime Minister said that a working couple on a minimum wage, with two children will see an increase in income of almost €450. This, together with increases given in previous years, amounts to 20% more than the couple’s income in 2017.

“Some people ask how can we continue to reduce taxes? How can we present a tax-free budget during a pandemic? The answer to these questions is by having a dynamic economy that creates more wealth,” the Prime Minister said.

He added that now that the economy is recovering strongly after the pandemic, it is crucial that everyone plays their part. He declared that taxes due must be collected, as these will be invested back in people.

Towards a digital and environmental transition

Prime Minister Abela noted the difference between this government’s progressive economic policy, and the austerity politics adopted by previous governments. This led to the  highest level of investment registered in the history of Malta. However, he added that this is not enough.

“In order to achieve a digital and environmental transition unprecedented investment is needed in the coming years. National and European funds will be used, but the private sector must also play its part.”

“Just as we have invested and will continue to invest in physical infrastructure, we will invest heavily in training.”

“That’s why we have announced tax cuts for businesses which re-invest their profits,” added the Prime Minister.

He referred to the incentives announced on clean vehicles, noting that the government will be paying almost half of the price of an electric vehicle. This, together with free public transport for everyone.

Prime Minister Abela said that people want a better quality of life, better environment and more open spaces. This is what the 2022 Budget will provide.

Here he referred to unprecedented incentives on abandoned properties, traditional dwellings and properties in UCA areas; as well as a whole list of environmental projects such as the Inwadar Park.

The challenges ahead

Prime Minister Abela said that great challenges remain, but we need to face them and turn them into the biggest opportunities for our country.

“Now more than ever, our country needs a competent Government, with a clear vision, and a united team in order to work in harmony. Tonight we have shown once again that we can be that government. A government that continues to fight poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. A government that continues to work for civil rights, a better quality of life, social justice and social mobility. A government that builds the Malta we want to leave for our children.

 

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