The truth about disposable income

Disposable income of families doubled despite the pandemic.

A RECENT reply to a parliamentary question revealed two very interesting facts.

First, the overall disposable income of Maltese families has risen from €3.5 billion in 2012 to €6.5 billion in 2020. This implies that over just 8 years, which included a pandemic year, the disposable income of families nearly doubled, rising by €3 billion.

Quite impressively there was a considerable increase of nearly €0.9 billion in 2020 itself. This is remarkable given the economic shock faced during that year and is due solely to the very strong fiscal assistance that Government gave to families. This included the deferral of taxes and the enhancement of social benefits, but most importantly the wage supplement scheme.

The second very interesting fact is that while the Nationalist Party always argues that economic growth is not benefiting the average family, official data show a diametrically opposite situation. Thus, average disposable income has risen from €22,379 in 2012 to €31,266 in 2020. This means that in 8 years the average family saw an improvement of nearly €9,000, or €1,100 per year. In essence every month under a Labour administration, average disposable income rose by nearly €100.

This puts in clear perspective the claim made by the Opposition that under Prime Minister Robert Abela families have only benefited from an increase of €1.75. The data clearly shows that in the first year of PM Abela – which will go down in history as one of the toughest in economic history – there was an increase of nearly €2,800. This was one of the largest increases in average disposable income since records began to be kept. That this record was achieved during a pandemic year is truly mind-boggling.

It is highly likely that the results for 2021 will be even better than those registered in 2020, leading to a paradox where what was an economically challenging year will end up with families earning the most income that they ever did. This is again testament to the way Government managed to shield families from the impact of the pandemic.

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