The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

The fair distribution of Malta’s economic success

Wednesday, 31 October 2018, 08:46 Last update: about 21 days ago

Anthony Agius Decelis

As a firm believer that every person in our society should live independently and with dignity, the principle of equity plays an essential role in realising that different persons have different needs to reach their level of independence. This understanding is also reflected in the lives of Maltese and Gozitan individuals.

It is beyond doubt that families have made huge steps forward in their lifestyles. While it is our pride as politicians that the country is moving forward, it is also our responsibility to ensure that those who are lagging behind receive the support to catch up.

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In fact, Budget 2019 has sought an increased effort in the provision of support measures for persons with disability, the elderly and their families. Interestingly, the investment being made does not only support the persons themselves, but also their families, parents and siblings, as well as informal carers.

During the next year, additional financial contributions such as the increased allowance to €25 weekly for children with disabilities, and measures such as the provision of free public transport for persons with disability will give rise to an improved quality of life of such persons. Moreover, Budget 2019 is giving a supplementary €10 per week in the assistance to persons with severe disability who cannot engage in employment, which assistance will be extended to another 600 individuals.

This being the fourth budget by the Labour Government that has seen an increase in pensions, the elderly have also benefitted from financial contributions from Budget 2019. We have seen that pensions will increase by a sum of €4.50 weekly, leaving a positive impact on more than 92,000 elderly person.

Budget 2019 is also including a number of measures that seek to prevent the elderly from falling in the poverty trap. Elderly persons who have not paid their full contributions will be given a bonus, which measure is likely to target the gender disparity in the pensions received by men and women. Furthermore, pensions up to €13,400 will remain tax free, whereas 29,000 elderly person over the age of 75 years will benefit from a financial handout of €300.

In view of supporting families, Budget 2019 refers to more respite services for persons with severe disability. This provides caregivers with the opportunity for a temporary rest from their caregiving duties to relieve their stress, renew their energy and restore a sense of balance to their lives, while their loved ones receive good quality care. Also addressing another gender issue, which can potentially put more women at risk of poverty, is the provision of allowance for carers. Budget 2019, will seek to expand this allowance to spouses who are not of pension age and are caring for their spouses, while also exempting them from means testing. Additionally, those aged 85 and over will not need to undergo medical testing in order for their informal carers to receive the carers' allowance.

Budget 2019 is a reflection of Malta's strong economic growth and the Government's commitment towards fair and just distribution of wealth. All this was possible because of the way we have changed the country since we were elected in government in 2013. We can expand and introduce new benefits because we have a surplus economy and not an economy that registers a deficit year after year as it was pre 2013. Thanks to the various economic initiatives which were heavily criticized by the Nationalist opposition we were in a position to present a social budget once again.

This is a social budget full of measures and initiatives that will continue to improve the lives of individuals and families, so that everyone lives the success of our country.

 

Anthony Agius Decelis is the Parliamentary Secretary for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing


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