The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

The Labour Party’s five most ambitious electoral proposals

Tuesday, 30 May 2017, 08:55 Last update: about 2 years ago

As the general election campaign winds its way into its final week, we take a look at the two main political parties’ five most ambitious electoral proposals.  Here is what are, in our view, the Labour Party’s top five:

 

Resurfacing every road in the country

No doubt a lofty ambition but one that will undoubtedly go down well wirth large swathes of the electorate, one of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s first electoral pledges was to resurface every road in the country – from main arterial roads to country lanes – within a seven-year time span.

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The logistically ambitious project is estimated to cost staggering €700 million and funding will be derived from a combination of European Union and national funds, with the proceeds of the Individual Investor Programme also being tapped.

 

A budget surplus for the next five years

After having this year achieved the first budgetary surplus in decades, the Labour Party, by way of Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, has said it is “convinced” that the state of surplus will continue for the next five years, i.e. over the next legislature.  Although the assertion is not exactly an electoral proposal, it can be construed as much since it came hand-in-hand with the tax breaks proposal.

The notion is ambitious since, according to the opposition the current surplus was only achieved after state expenditure was slashed.  The other question is whether the current momentum will be able to be maintained given the fact that the Maltese economy is susceptible to external shocks that are, after all, beyond its control.

 

Extending the IIP

The Individual Investor Programme has undoubtedly been a monetary boon for the country, but is has also been fraught with ethical issues – not only here in Malta but also across she European Union since Malta is effectively not only selling Maltese, but also EU passports.

As such, the Labour Party’s pledge to extend the scheme beyond the capping of 1,800 main applicants as per its agreement with the European Commission may meet significant resistance, as it had in the past, from the European Parliament.

 

Giving public holidays back to the workers

Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat’s pledge to give workers back the public holidays falling on weekends is rather ambitious indeed, given the acrimony the issue has caused between employers and workers unions.  When the issue was last raised, employers had their way and, as matters stand, public holidays occurring on weekends are not compensated for.

Dr Muscat has said he will seek the consent of the constituted bodies within the Malta Council for Social and Economic Development will be less a can of worms and more of a hornets’ nest judging by past experience.

 

Tax refund cheques for everyone

One of Dr Muscat’s first electoral proposals was to provide a one-off tax cut in the form of a tax refund for each and every worker, in the form of a cheque in the main by the end of the year. The cheques, depending on income, will range from between €200 and €340 per year, and the refund will be eligible for anyone earning up to €60,000 a year.

The measure will cost €46.5 million.

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