The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

A fruitful tomorrow

Wednesday, 7 November 2018, 15:21 Last update: about 14 days ago

Rosianne Cutajar

The country’s annual budget should mean much more to us than just a yearly picture of how the government has been spending its money and how it intends to distribute its finances for the coming year. The budget shines a light on our beliefs — where we want to take the society entrusted to us, and what kind of progress we want to achieve for Malta in the next years. Budget 2019 will deliver a stronger and more confident Maltese society. Our families and businesses will grow. But we are also ready to step in when needed to make sure that the wealth we are generating continues to reach further those who need it most — and to ensure that our economic success will be shared with the next generations.

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I will not be complacent and just say that this budget builds on what has been achieved so far. Yes, we have kept on board the measures that helped lift many out of the risk of poverty in the past five years. But this budget is also paving the way to deal with the challenges that come with a steadily growing economy.

Budget 2019 has strengthened our pensions sector, provided for a substantial increase in children’s allowance, an increase in the minimum wage, yet again seen to a reduction in income tax, an increase in medical aid and in real financial assistance to persons with disabilities, a substantial increase in spending on education including stipends, as well as an investment in a National Development and Social Fund that will see to the needs of current and future generations.

Making our society a better one also means giving it not just the wealth, but the tools to make the most effective use out of it. Past measures meant to encourage a more active, educated and gender-balanced workforce, with access to state-of-the-art technologies, have not only been retained but strengthened, and improved over the past years. We have kept the measures that worked well, and fine-tuned other measures to make them reflect the ever-changing needs of our society.

We’re doing all of this while continuing to slash the country’s national debt, and without placing a single new tax burden on our citizens. Moreover, Budget 2019 walks hand in hand with our effort to address rent reform and our unprecedented spending on social housing. The White Paper on rent regulation tabled by government has seen a positive response and speaks for a government with a strong will to succeed — here, we are looking for real and effective solutions, and will continue to be ready to listen to everyone even as we plan the way forward in the sector.

Budget 2019 says a lot about the Muscat-led Labour administration. It is a government that rises to the occasion, listens to the issues, and moves fast to address them. It is a government that cares for the country’s wealth, spends wisely, and sees that our families are better-placed to allow their children to aspire and set higher goals for themselves. It is a Budget that sways away from partisan politics and includes benefits to all. It is a Budget that tries to keep a step ahead of our immediate concerns even as it addresses them. Our united team will keep an ear firmly to the ground, always ready to rectify issues when and wherever needed.

During his replica speech in Parliament, the Prime Minister yet again showed visionary leadership with a competent agenda for the country, one that strengthens economic growth through investment which translates into social progress and better quality of life. That is why, families are today in a stronger position compared to some years ago and feel optimistic about their future in a Malta which is living success.

 

Rosianne Cutajar is a Labour MP

 

 

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