The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Budget 2020: A social, prudent budget to enable us to continue growing together - Scicluna

Monday, 14 October 2019, 15:36 Last update: about 30 days ago

The budget for 2020 is being presented by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna this evening.

This is a minute-by-minute rendering of the budget speech.

9.03pm: It would have been justified for the government to slow down after years of success. But we are not doing so. This can be seen by the number of measures introduced in this budget. This is a social budget aimed to improve the quality of life of all sectors of society, in particular the ones mostly in need. We have drawn up a list of the challenges and how we are going to tackle them. This budget is prudent in public expenditure to reduce debt, and save up for future generations. This is being done to keep away risks. This budget is aimed for us to continue to grow together.

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8.58pm: After opening an embassy in Ghana, is preparing for opening an embassy in Tokyo and another one in Latin America.

8.56pm: The government will embark on its plans for the organisation of the Small Nations Games in 2023. Work on the indoor poor in Cottonera will continue. €28 million will be investing in the Marsa horse-racing track. The government will be announcing its concrete plans for a car racing track.

8.52pm: The Citizenship by Investment Programme is valid contributor to the Maltese economy, but even without it the economic surplus would still be achieved.

8.47pm: Government will continue to invest in equipment and training of the Armed Forces of Malta, the police and the Civil Protection Department.

8.44pm: As from next year, purchasing of property, cars, boats, diamonds and art objects cannot be done exclusively in cash. A limit of €10,000 in cash is to be established.

8.43pm: Government drew up a detailed plan to implement the recommendations listed in the Moneyval report. A new Financial Organised Crimes Agency will be launched to complement to work of the police's Economic Crimes Unit. The MFSA and FIAU have taken initiatives to strengthen their fight against money laundering and terrorism.

8.42pm: The strategy to combat money laundering - with 45 action to be implemented in three years - is in place, with 30% of the measures already in place.

8.41pm: Malta has reduced fiscal evasuon by 8% in one year, and is the fourth least company where tax evasion takes place.

8.39pm: Government will continue its plans to separate the duplicate functions of the Attorney General's office.

8.37pm: The number of pending cases in the law courts has decreased from 26,650 in 2012 to 22,510 this year.

8.35pm: Gozo will have its first reverse osmosis plant at Hondoq ir-Rummien.

8.33pm: Road works in Gozo include the ones leading from Victoria to Mgarr and the road from Victoria to Marsalforn. The bays of Marsalforn and Xlendi will be embellished.

8.31pm: Studies on the feasibility of the tunnel between the two islands will be concluded in the coming months. Infrastructure Malta will soon be publishing a pre-qualification questionnaire to be available to companies who would be interested in the project.

8.30pm: The introduction of the fourth ferry (lease) has improved the connection between Malta and Gozo. Gozo Channel has learnt from the experience and is in a better position to invest in an owned fourth vessel.

8.26pm: The government is expecting Gozo to attract new niches of employment. Through the Gozo Business Scheme, the government is offering incenvtives for more private investment. Fiscal incentives will be offered to companies which would be intrerested in relocating to Gozo.

8.23pm: Government in discussions with Valletta Cruise Port for upgrades at Pinto 4 and 5 and landing facilities at Lascaris.

8.21pm: Air Malta to continue is plans to modernise its fleet. Plans to increase its operations across Europe and North Africa, with medium to long-haul flights on the cards.

8.20pm: The number of tourists projected to visit Malta in 2018 is 2.7 million, a 4.5% increase.

8.15pm: A public call for tenders will be issued for a land mining project in Marsa, to convert the old dumping site into a recreational area.

8.11pm: Malta to continue to invest in Artificial Intelligence, video game development and esports.

8.09pm: Government is exploring new economic niches in the financial services industry, including Fintech.

8.07pm: The Malta Stock Exchange will be implementing initiatives to promote the issuing of Green Bonds.

8.04pm: Government is considering building a roof over the Royal Theatre in Valletta. 

8.03pm: A restoration and modernisation project of the National Library is to start. 

8.02pm: The ITS campus at Smart City ies expected to start and will include a hotel which will be run by the students.

8pm: Guidelines will be established on the weight of school bags. A plan will start to have a drinking water fountain in every state school.

7.58pm: A process to have a Maltese Spellchecker online will start.

7.57pm: €7 million investment in the University and MCAST infrastructure. A new school will be opened in Qawra.

7.55pm: More investment in technology in schools, and this will also include the University of Malta. A pilot project in middle schools is aimed to extend the One Tablet per Child project.

7.53pm: Government will continue to invest in new medicine and a National Poison Centre will be launched to offer services to people exposed to toxic chemicals.

7.51pm: There will be an increased focus on mental health, which is one of the major challenges in the next years.

7.49pm: Plans in hand for the building of a new Outpatients section at Mater Dei Hospital. There will be more investment in robotic surgery. A new regional health centre is on the cards for the north of Malta as part of investment in primary care,

7.47pm: Gradually all petrol stations will be equipped with charging points.

7.46pm: Government scheme to give a full VAT refund on motorcyclesm scooters and electric bikes to be extended.

7.45pm: Government working on better connectivity at sea. Zones such as Cottonera, Marsaxlokk, Marsascala, St Paul's Bay, St Julian's and Mellieha will be included in these connectivity plans.

7.43pm: The scheme for no registration tax on electric cars will continue. Plans to strengthen public transport, including the On-Demand Buses network.

7.42pm: Work on three fery landings sites will start next year.

7.40pm: By the end of next year the flyovers project at Marsa will be completed. Work on the Central Link project will continue after PA approval, and a new flyover project will start in Msida while St Andrew's Road will be widened as part of the Pembroke tunnel network project.

7.38pm: Pumping station pumps at St Paul's Bay and Xemxija will be replaced.

7.36pm: Government will continue to offer incentives for renewable sources of energy. The natural gas project link with Sicily will be completed by 2024.

7.34pm: Embellishment work will be carried out in Msidam Kalkara, Pieta, Senglea Gate and parts of Valletta. Work will start on the Marsaxlokk waterpolo pitch.

7.32pm: A national trail network will be drawn up.

7.31pm: Rinella Bay and Ghadira Bay may be extended next year to create bigger beaches.

7.30pm: Malta Enterprise will be offering incentives to construction operators to replace equipment with new machinery which pollutes less.

7.29pm: Stakeholders involved in public cleansing will be involved in plans for the better use of resources.

7.28pm: Part of Regional Road will be getting a roof so as eliminate the division of the locality into two parts.

7.27pm: Government to help grocers invest in green corners to sell items by weight, with consumers taking re-usable containers to be filled.

7.26pm: Single use plastic will be banned as from 2021 (plastic bags, cutlery, straws and plates)

7.25pm: The beverage container recycling scheme will start by the end of this year with a number of machines to be installed as a pilot project.

7.23pm: Next year the date will be announce by when all new cars on the road need to be free of pollution. The number of charging points will be increased and preferential rates will be given on energy costs to people who have electric cars.

7.22pm: Plans for a waste to energy plant continue to enable the closure of the Sant Antnin waste recycling plant.

7.21pm: Government will be presenting a national strategy that will make Malta carbon neutral by 2050.

7.20pm: Government will be given special attention to the environment, in particular with regard to climate change. We are still in time to take action in line with efforts to combat climate change.

7.15pm: Government will be building 1,700 new housing units. 

7.13pm: Government will be aiding people under 40 years of age who are unable to pay the 10% down payment on housing. The government will be paying the dep[osit which needs to be paid back within 15 years. (Maximum €17,500).

7.12pm: Housing schemes introduced in the past years, including those for first-time  or second-time buyers, will be extended to 2020. As from tomorrow, first-time buyers will be tax exempted on the first €175,000 (up from €150,000)

7.11pm: Government will be working on a rent reform exercise.

7.10pm: People suffering from cancer will have their sick leave conditions revised.

7.09pm: Parents who are forced to leave employment to take care of their children with a rare disease will have social security contributions they miss because of this situation accredited to them, up to a maximum of eight years.

7.08pm: VAT exemption on special apparatus bought for people with a disability will go up by €400 to €1,000.

7.07pm: Disability pension will go up from €150 per week to €161.40. Invalidity pension will also go up.

7.06pm: €300 bonus will be given to each born or adopted child as from 1 January.

7.05pm: Public transport will be free of charge to people over 75 years of age.

7.04pm: The 62+ government savings bond will be issued again.

7.03pm: People over 75 years of age who live at home will be getting, once again, a €300 grant. People aged over 80 will be getting €350. This grant will be given to elderly people who pay to live in residential homes. 

7.02pm: €13 million will be allocated to adjust injustices and anomalies regarding pensions. Some 8,000 will benefit.

7.01pm: Widows and widowers who have children aged less than 18 will be getting a €4.54 increase if the parent is in employment and €9.32 if there is no employment.

7pm: A bonus of between €200 and €300 will be given to 16,500 persons who do not receive a pension because they did not pay enough national insurance contributions.

6.58pm: There will be a revision of the way pensions are handed out to soldiers, police officers, employees at the Corradino Correctional Facility and the Civil Protection Department who choose to continue working after their retirement.

6.57pm: Pensioners will be getting an additional €3.51 per week for a total of €7 increase per week, or €364 per year. No tax will be paid on the first €13,798 received by pensioners. Couples with a single pension will be tax exempted for the first €15,798.

6.56pm: As from January, workers will be able to register, de-register or cancel that VAT registration online. Pensioners will no longer pay provisional tax every three months but will have their pension deducted. Tax rebates will be paid within six months (not a year).

6.55pm: The government will not tolerate any abuse in the payment of national insurance by employers. All employers will be given a chance to regularise their position; action will be taken against those who continue to abuse.

6.54pm: The rate of tax on overtime will go down to 15% for the first 100 hours of overtime of workers who earn less than €20,000 per year and are not in a managerial position.

6.53pm: Tax refund amounting to €11.5 million – from which 200,000 will benefit – will be given out as in previous years (between €40 and €68 per worker).

6.52pm: An additional day of leave will be added.

6.51pm: There will be an additional bonus of €15 to single-person families and €35 to families with more than one person. This bonus will be paid for by the government.

6.50pm: The cost of living adjustment will be €3.49 per week, and will cover also pensioners and people on social benefits. Stipends for students will increase pro-rata.

6.49pm: In 2020 employment will go up by 4.1% while the unemployment rate will remain at 3.5%. Inflation is set to be 1.6%. There will be a surplus of 1.4% in 2020, while debt will fall to 40.4% of GDP.

6.48pm: The economic growth is expected to be 4.3% in real terms in 2020 and 6.5% in nominal terms. This will come about with an increase in investment of 9.7%. Private consumption is projected to be 4% more while public consumption will go up by 4.9%. Exportation is set to rise by 1.6% while importation is forecast to grow by 2%.

6.47pm: Public debt is now down to 45.8% in 2018 of GDP and will go down further to 43.1% by the end of the year. In 2020, the GDP will be double what it was in 2013, up from €7 billion to €14 billion.

6.46pm: The number of workers has now reached 230,000, with the private sector registering 90% of the new jobs created. The unemployment rate is down to 3.3% and that among young people at 8.4%. The rate of participation in employment has gone up to 74.7%, higher than the European average.

6.45pm: Investment in the first six months grew by 14.2%. Private consumption was up 4.5%. Importation increased by 2.2% while exportation was up 1.5%. Salaries went up by an average of 5.7% while companies registered a 9.5% increase in profit.

6.44pm: In the first six months of the year the economy grew by 4.7%. This is three times better than the EU average. The GDP grew by 7.3% in nominal terms.

6.43pm: We are conscious of this but this government is not afraid of taking important decisions to ensure the sustainability of the quality of life we have achieved. This is the budget we worked on so as to reduce the burdens on families. It is yet another budget in which there are no taxes, the third one in a row. And we will finish with a surplus for the fifth year.

6.42pm: It took the country 30 years to understand that we could have a debt free situation. But success brings with it new challenges. There were years when families spoke of difficulties regarding employment, childcare and poverty. Now we are talking about ways we should pursue for this success to be maintained in the years to come. Now we are talking about how we could preserve the environment, how families could enjoy the heart of towns and villages without traffic and how the country could be as clean as possible.

6.41pm: What we did first was strengthen the economy to reach targets we never dreamed of. We carried out reforms, which were belittled by some but which other countries are now asking about.

6.40pm: This is the eighth budget that I am presenting, and once again it is a budget aimed to face the challenges. The challenges of the first few years were to build an economy while improving fiscal governance.

 

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