Government will seek Parliamentary approval for the ratification of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union - also known as the Fiscal Compact - in the coming weeks.
Finance Minister Prof. Edward Scicluna made the announcement during a keynote speech titled ‘Navigating the crisis in the Euro Zone – Malta’s Challenges and Opportunities’, delivered during the FinanceMalta 6th Annual Conference.
During his address, Prof. Scicluna said that the compact, aimed at tightening fiscal discipline in the Eurozone as well as strengthening economic policy coordination, will allow the European Union to address the ongoing sovereign debt crises more effectively.
Prof. Scicluna said the government’s decision to press on with Fiscal Compact’s ratification represents Malta’s ongoing commitment towards strengthening the country’s already-stable economic and fiscal situation to allow it to reach a point from which it can address its national debt problem in a concrete and lasting manner.
Prof. Scicluna noted that despite the turbulent waters sweeping across the Euro zone and which led to the current sovereign debt crisis that is threatening the stability of several European countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and now Cyprus, Malta has performed well.
He however said that Malta nevertheless faces challenges stemming from past decisions which were allowed to hamper economic growth at a time when the country could ill afford such obstacles.
In this, Prof. Scicluna pointed towards Malta’s continued dependence on oil as a source of energy, widespread precarious employment, low female labour participation, and the EU’s highest rate of early school leavers, and said that the government is presenting a plan to address these issues and ensure that Malta carves out a niche among the EU’s more successful and ambitious countries.
“On the energy front we intend to promote independent private investment in Malta’s energy infrastructure in the form of more efficient natural gas fired electricity generation plants. To increase the female labour supply, a bold plan to provide free child-care centres for all will be unveiled in the near future, while ambitious targets are laid out to make a significant cut in the numbers of early school leavers. Our pension problem will also be addressed in consultation with both the social partners and the financial industry.”
“On the fiscal front we intend to continue, in spite of a one-time pre-electoral fiscal slippage last year, to consolidate our public finances by 0.6% each year, including this one,” Prof. Scicluna added. “This is so that we not only continue keeping our deficit with the 3% threshold but aim to reduce this figure until it turns into a surplus. Only this way can we be seriously addressing our national debt problem.”