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‘A sharing economy’ - Nationalist Party presents pre-budget document

Julian Bonnici Friday, 29 September 2017, 15:49 Last update: about 8 years ago

The Nationalist Party today stressed that while the economy has performed well over the last years, there was a lot that could be done in order to see the entire population benefit.

PN spokesperson for finance Mario De Marco presented the party's  pre-budget document in a press conference held inside the Parliament building, with MPs Claudio Grech, Kristy Debono, and Clyde Puli also in attendance.


In a foreword from Adrian Delia, the newly-elected PN Leader noted that while the economy has certainly grown, which he attributed to “wise decisions taken by past PN-led administrations”, he said that there were many people who are finding difficult to make ends meet.

“Rising rents and mortgage payments, higher cost of food and essential items are reducing the purchasing power of segments of society particularly those in the low income groups. Pensioners are being hit hardest. We need to find a system that delivers more equitable growth.”

He went on to say that the government was partly responsible for the burden in low income groups as it increased indirect tax on essential items. Delia also emphasised the effect population growth has had on the country's changing economy.

De Marco said, when responding to questions over rising rental prices, that the party is not in favour of control of the rental market, and insisted that it would only be a last resort.

Photos Baskal Mallia

When pressed for an actual solution, De Marco said that document is highlighting the issue to find a solution, but stressed that the party has offered plenty of proposals in the field of social housing, something he said that the government has failed to do.

The document is split into three sections, the international economy, sectoral analysis and public finances.

At the press conference, De Marco pointed towards an IMF report on the euro area which summarised that the economic situation was “as a whole dim.”

Turning to Brexit, De Marco said that the full impact on the UK, Malta and Europe as a whole remains to be seen.

He said that while Malta may very well be able to handle its negative effects, the country is not prepared to grab the opportunities that arise and insisted that a task force on the matter should have been established a year ago.

On the country's economic growth in comparison to the EU, De Marco said that the margin between the Real GDP growth rates between the two is the small it has been since 2011.

The document says that “GDP growth is camouflaging growing inequalities in Maltese society, and a growing social and environmental deficit.

Regarding employment, the outgoing deputy leader said that while it is good that we have a very low youth unemployment rate, the country should address the number of youths not further pursuing their education, with the country registering the highest rate of early school leavers in the EU.

He went on to say that the labour force in Malta continues to grow mainly due to the influx of foreign workers, who he said are occupying the high-end jobs in the i-gaming and financial services industries.

He said that the country should also analyse the effect these jobs are having on other Maltese sectors, namely property.

De Marco did praise the growing female participation rate when comparing figures taken from 2010, but expressed concerns that the rate of change, when compared to the EU averages, was the lowest since 2012.

He said that the document raises the issues concerning the disparity if wage increases in different sectors, saying that the igaming salaries have increased substantially more than the salaries of those in construction, who experienced an increase of 0.2%

The document is also critical of the increase in public sector employees, having exceeded 45,000, which is claims has taken back the country to 2005 levels.

De Marco noted that the pre-budget document includes a number of proposals from the PN’s electoral campaign.

He stressed that the current administration, while certainly overseeing a performing economy, has failed to introduce new substantial sectors to the economy, while pushing for the strengthening and improvement of already existing sectors such as the financial services, retail and tourism.

“What are we doing to improve the Maltese product?”

The surplus, something which has been a common feature in the current government’s publicity, also appears in the budget.

The PN’s document attributes the surplus to a “historic low capital expenditure since 1980” as the main reason behind the €8.9 million.

De Marco also pointed out that the NSO created a fund to account for 70% of the flow of incomes from the IIP scheme, and included this for one year, rather than three.

“If the balance had to be corrected for this one-off factor, the general government balance would have been -0.6% of GDP or a deficit of €63 million.”

The document also say that while there is a surplus, the national debt has increased over the last five years.

Grech stressed the importance of the introduction of blockchain and other cryptocurrencies, and announced that the opposition will present its initiatives on the sector in the coming weeks.

Debono emphasised that the country should invest in the field to use its human resources through the many academics on its shores to take advantage of the emerging sector.

Puli said that party was worried about the question of poverty facing the country which he said was growing, along with the number of families who are failing to make ends meet, the rising property prices, and the lack of substantial increase in pensions.

PN pre budget document

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