The Malta Independent 8 December 2022, Thursday
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UHM launches budget proposals, says planning, including that of surplus, 'should be long-term'

Thursday, 5 October 2017, 11:52 Last update: about 6 years ago

The budget proposals put forward by Voice of the Workers (UHM)  should prioritise long-term planning, according to UHM leader Josef Vella, who stated that the current economic surplus in Malta is also a 'short-term' plan.

Vella was addressing a news conference this morning where the proposals were launched.

"The economic surplus is coming from a short-term plan," he said, when asked by the media whether he thinks the current surplus is unsustainable.  "I am not saying that it is bad, but long-term plans should also be discussed meanwhile." Listing a few hypothetical situations where factors driving the surplus could potentially go wrong, he asked "if something goes wrong, do we have alternatives?"

A few hypothetical situations where the surplus could get a hit, according to Vella, include if Malta starts to receive less funding from the EU as they see the country economically booming,  the passport scheme comes to an end or tax legislation driven by the European Union will change policies.

"It is good to make hay while the sun shines, but the government also needs to save for a rainy day," he said. "Yes, the surplus should keep increasing, but with a long-term economic plan."


Risk of poverty on the rise

Vella said that although it is being said that poverty has decreased, he said that figures show that "the risk of poverty is on the rise." "When put in the same basket as social exclusion, then yes a decrease is seen, but the risk of poverty is actually increasing," he said, saying there was an increase, albeit slight, in the past year.


Budget proposals

One proposal in the budget proposals by UHM is to create better parking facilities through public-private partnerships. The facilities will be along the main roads, with the hope of reducing traffic, and increasing "efficient use of public transport and other types of transport."

Rather than moving public holidays that fall on weekends to weekdays, the UHM is proposing providing financial compensation for the days, which would vary between €150 and €200 per annum, which would cost the government €12.7 million per year, according to the UHM head.

Vella also spoke about the proposal to implement property incentives to increase care and awareness for the environment, questioning whether we are taking the environment into consideration as things stand now.

Exempting the annual cost of living allowance (COLA) from tax, introducing free lunch at schools to decrease obesity and buy more time for the parents as well as providing free Internet to those families who are at the risk of poverty.

"Nowadays Internet has become an essential need," he said, emphasizing that it would help with educational purposes.

Another proposal by the union linked with education is to improve the examination centres and bring Matsec examinations closer to the localities of students sitting for the exams.

UHM are also pushing, for the third year in a row the creation of an online platform to register contracts of employment in order to "safeguard employees' basic rights".

They also called for a debate to introduce second-pillar pensions and creating a vision and regulating crowdfunding, creating coopartives in the health sector. 

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