The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

RECAP: How Budget 2022 unfolded

Albert Galea Monday, 11 October 2021, 17:27 Last update: about 3 days ago

Another budget day – the ninth under a Labour administration – is upon us.

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana will take to Parliament this evening to lay out the government’s economic plan for 2022 in what is his first budget speech.

The Budget is likely to look into a multitude of topics, as the country continues its emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caruana will kick his speech off at around 6:30pm in Parliament.

The Malta Independent will be with you throughout the night, bringing you a live commentary from Caruana’s speech and reactions to the newly announced measures as they come in.

21:15 - Don't leave just yet...

That's a wrap on our live commentary of the Budget speech.  You can check out our summaries on different sectors of the Budget below:

- 95,000 pensioners to get €5 weekly increase

- Social measures - List of free medicines to be extended

- Free public transport to all Maltese residents as from October 2022

- Employment benefits - COLA to rise by €1.75 per week

- Governance – AG’s office to take on additional prosecution functions

- Accommodation - 1,200 social apartments nearing completion

- Security and migration - Marsa migrants centre to be shut down

- Education: Stipends increase by 10%

- Planning and property - Tax relief when purchasing older properties, UCA buildings

- Waste, Energy and Water - €200m to be invested in waste management infrastructure

With a few more still to follow.


21:02 - 'This is our vision for Malta' 

In his final words, Caruana throws in some political rhetoric – much to the delight of his political colleagues, who have been giving Parliament’s tables a good beating throughout the two and a half hour speech, saying that this is the government’s vision for the country.

He says it’s a Malta which would take care of its elderly, of its environment, and where only what is right reigns supreme.

And with, that Caruana brings his speech to a close.


20:59 - Energy prices, inflation could keep deficit up

Giving a brief overview of the financial situation of the country, Caruana says  that the deficit will hit 11.1% this year with national debt rising to 61.3% of the GDP – although Caruana says that the deficit should have decreased to 2.9% by 2024.

He does however say that soaring energy prices and the possibility of rising inflation may see next year’s deficit be higher than initially forecasted (7% instead of the initial 5.6%).


20:55 - New prison wing, extension of community policing

Moving onto home affairs, the government will continue to reform the Attorney General’s office so that the AG prosecutes more while the police focuses its work on investigating.

Community policing will also be extended once again, with Żabbar, Xgħajra, Marsascala, San Ġwann, Żebbuġ, Gżira, Msida, Pietà, Mosta, Mġarr, Żurrieq, Safi and Kirkop being the next localities on the list.

Works on a new prison wing which will host 140 inmates within the Corradino Correctional Facility will also begin next year, while there will be vehicular updates in the Armed Forces of Malta and the Civil Protection Department as well.

Over €3 million in funds from LESA have been given to local councils for projects across the country as well.

Caruana also refers to illegal immigration, noting that the number of immigrants arriving in the country was due to an agreement signed with Libya, and that a Returns Unit set up specifically to handle deportations will be strengthened.

Malta will also have a diplomatic presence, for the first time, in Brazil and in Ethiopia.

On animal rights, a modern rehoming centre for the adoption of animals – including strays – will be explored as a possibility.


20:50 - Arts

Tax incentives are also being included for those who work in the arts.

Their income tax will be pegged down to 7.5% as from 2022, and a total of €5 million across three schemes are being reserved for the arts sector, be it to handle Covid-19 event restrictions, and as simple aid from the Malta Arts Council.

There will also be continued investment in PBS, with investment in a new television stage and to develop Malex House with new production facilities to welcome a new newsroom together with new news studios. 


20:47 - Sports

Sport now is under the microscope.

Works will continue at the Marsa Sports Complex, while an Olympic-sized pool will be built in Cospiqua with works also being carried out at waterpolo pitches in Marsascala, Valletta, and Marsaxlokk.

Msida St. Joseph will also be getting a new football pitch.

Caruana refers to two measures announced in last year’s budget: the indoor rowing tank and an Outdoor Velodrome which will be at Ta’ Qali, and also refers to the already announced €20 million motorsport track.

A new gymnastics facility will also be built at Marsa.


20:43 - New blood bank

We’ve now moved onto health.

A new blood bank and a facility for stem cell processing and storage will be built, while work on the new Mater Dei outpatients block will continue.

The continuous blood glucose monitors for diabetes type 1 patients will be extended to all such patients who are aged between 17 and 21, in what is a move forward from a pilot project.


20:41 - Farming

A new scheme as part of the Farm to Fork strategy will see the introduction of a carbon farming initiative, wherein farmers can use a grant of up to €8,000 to change fields which aren’t being used or are out of production to be used for agro-foresting based on fruit trees.


20:34 - Waste & Energy

Caruana delves into the government’s plans for waste management, which largely centre around the already announced ECO-HIVE in Maghtab.

A ‘repair centre’ will also be opened to allow people to take damaged goods for repair, rather than to be thrown away.

Caruana says that the government is also conscious of the ever-increasing electrical demand that the country is facing, which will be exacerbated with the completion of the shore-to-ship project at the Grand Harbour.

Therefore, studies on the second interconnector cable from Sicily will increase throughout 2022, and a new system for the calculation of electricity bills through ARMS will be announced next year as well.

Investment in Enemalta’s distribution network – much needed after this summer’s frequent power cuts – will also be made.

Meanwhile, Gozo’s first reverse osmosis plant in Hondoq ir-Rummien is also set to open next year.


20:30 - More grants on electric cars, more charging points

There will be renovations at ferry piers in Sliema and Bormla, and new piers and promenades built in Vittoriosa and Kalkara along with a new breakwater in Bugibba.

From tomorrow, the incentives for the purchase of electric or plug-in hybrid cars will increase by €3,000 to a total of €11,000 – which can increase by another €1,000 if the vehicle scrappage scheme is used in tandem with it.

Night-time charging rates for households with electric vehicles will remain, while a scheme for the installation of solar panels on vehicles such as minibuses, coaches, and trucks worth up to €900 per applicant will be introduced.

Some 1,200 charging points will be built across the country in the space of three years as well to cater for the increase in electric cars.


20:25 - Free public transport for all

In another major measure, Caruana has announced that public transport will as from 1 October 2022 become free for everyone.

The timeline is such so that the public transport operator has time to adapt to the measure, and it’s a measure which will mean that Malta is one of just two countries to have public transport for free.

Commuters will save some €300 per year with this measure.

Public transport was first made free for 16-year-olds and full-time students, a measure which was extended to people aged 75 and over as from 2020, and then to those over 70 as from 2021.

The idea of making public transport free for everyone was first mooted by Joseph Muscat in 2018, and Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia told a working group two weeks ago that Malta would be aiming to implement free public transport for locals and tourists by 2030.


20:22 - More environmental measures

There are a number of other environmental measures which are being announced by Caruana, which include ‘intensified’ efforts to rehabilitate sensitive habitats such as Comino, the Victoria Lines, and other areas.

Schemes for solar panels, solar water heaters, and heat pumps will also be extended, while there has also been promise of continued implementation of solar panels on public buildings and for NGOs.

New and more efficient lighting will also be installed throughout Valletta and the Sustainable Development Awards will also be launched to encourage people to be “catalysts” in change for the green economy.


20:18 - Major afforestation project

Caruana has announced an afforestation project as well – and a major one at that.

The area of Inwadar – between Xghajra and Zonqor – will be forested in an investment of €20 million over the course of five years.  The area will be bigger than Buskett when it’s completed.

The idea to afforest Inwadar is not new – a group of architects earmarked the 315,000 square metre site in a proposal titled ‘Help Malta Breathe’.  In their proposal, they suggested the planting of over 40,000 trees in this area.

More green spaces in Zabbar, Qormi, Hamrun, and Mosta will also be built through the passport scheme fund, while the San Anton Gardens will be restored as well while work will continue on the roofing of Regional Road in Santa Venera and the permanent pedestrianisation of Triq Sant’ Anna in Floriana.

The famous Schreiber ground in Pace Grasso will also be changed into a public open space for the community, with over 165 trees, 2,500 shrubs and 1,500 ornamental plants being planted in the 12,000 square metre space.


20:14 - Significant measure on old properties

Caruana announces another significant measure: anyone carrying out work to restore old or abandoned homes, or any property within a UCA, will as of tomorrow be able to pay no VAT on the first €300,000 in works.

That is equivalent to a mammoth €54,000 saved in VAT.

The scheme will only be applicable for those who will not split the property, and the hope is that the scheme will encourage more people to restore old properties rather than simply rip them down and turn them into a supposedly modern apartment block.

Capital gains taxes will also be removed from on properties which were built more than 20 years ago and have been vacant for over 7 years, and for properties in UCA and new ones which are built in the typical and traditional Maltese style.

First-time buyers of these properties will receive a €15,000 grant, which would double to €30,000 if the property is in Gozo.


20:10 - Building contractors must now be licensed

We’re coming into the environment and construction part of this Budget now.

The first measure announced is that contractors have to be licensed in order to operate, with Caruana saying that enforcement here also has to improve.  He said that the license will be a certificate of quality and that incentives would be considered for those who follow such a quality level.


20:08 - Economic growth

On economic growth, real GDP is set to grow by 6.5%. A 2.2% increase in employment is expected for 2022, while unemployment will remain relatively low at 4%.

Economic growth is expected to continue, with the real GDP growth expected to be 4.7% and 4.5% in 2023 and 2024 respectively.


20:07 - Touristic zones to be regenerated

Moving onto tourism and connectivity, Caruana says that the facilities at the heliport in Xewkija, Gozo, will be modernised.

An agency dedicated to the regeneration of touristic zones has been founded and will handle a number of areas such as St Paul's Bay, Bugibba, Qawra, and Xemxija through a holistic plan for the regeneration of the Northern region of Malta.

Caruana said that this was a record year for the film industry as well, with 28 international productions generating €91 million for the country and creating more jobs.

The building of the first soundstage of the country will commence in 2022 in order for the country to continue attracting films.


20:02 - New measures to attract businesses to Malta

Half a million euros will be invested in educational institutions to train students on emerging technology as the country seeks to invest in new economic niches.

A Seed Fund for researchers and entrepreneurs will also be established in a collaboration between Malta Enterprise and the University of Malta.

A Start-Up Residence Permit to attract more start-ups and entrepreneurs will also be opened so that more and more businesses can settle and set up shop in Malta.

The Malta Development Bank SME Tailored Facility will also be extended, while a Blue Med Hub with a number of experts  to attract start-ups and small enterprises, with a particular eye for collaboration with Africa and the Middle East, will also be opened.


19:58 - Long-term strategy for financial services sector to be drafted

Caruana moves onto the financial services sector.  

In January this year, he says, the government set up the MFSAC (Malta Financial Services Advisory Council).

 

A long-term strategy for the sector, which includes the simplication of certain regulatory processes and measures on payment infrastructure, identity management, and a committee to reform the law for financial services amongst others will follow in 2022.


19:56 - Regenerations in Gozo and Grand Harbour

Caruana breezes over the €470 million investment announced in the Covid-19 budget a year and a half ago, and speaks about infrastructural investment – such as the Central Link Project – as well.

He reveals that while roadworks will continue, there will be regenerations in the Munxar and Sannat village squares, and that the Grand Harbour will also start to be regenerated.


19:53 - Tax crackdown

Caruana announces that there will be more of a crackdown on tax and VAT offences.

“We feel like we need to send a clear signal that, while we will help those who genuinely need it, we are not going to tolerate unjustified delays on the payment of taxes,” Caruana says.

It will no longer be the norm for interest payments to be waived, he says before adding that only those in line with the law will be waived, with everyone else paying a 7.2% interest rate.


19:49 - Covid-19 Wage Supplement potentially to be replaced by new incentives

The Covid-19 Wage Supplement, Caruana says, may not continue, but would be replaced by new incentives – although details are scant.

“We will see that even in our recovery phase, we do not leave businesses alone and therefore we will create a set of new incentives”, Caruana says.

Subsidies on rent for a number of businesses will also increase, as will subsidies to help companies and importers face increases in transport prices.

There will be fiscal incentives to encourage companies to reinvest their profits in a new Malta Enterprise scheme as well.


19:47 - More works on schools, new R&D scheme

The building of schools in Msida and Rabat, Gozo will continue, while modernisation projects will take place in Qormi, Mellieha, Ghaxaq, and a number of schools in Gozo will also take place.

A new scheme called Go to Market will be launched by the Malta Council for Science and Technology with the aim of seeing the highest level of advanced technology commercialised for the local and international market.


19:44-  More apprenticeships

There will be more investment in apprenticeships for students with the private sector, and a new law regulating the status of the educator profession – including KGEs and LSEs – will be implemented next year.

A mentoring programme done in tandem with the University of Malta, MCAST, and the Education Department for recently graduated teachers will also be launched.

SEC exams be fashioned out in a way that students can take their exams at the school which they attend in, hence giving them a more familiar and less stressful environment.

180 laboratories across the country will also be modernised as part of a drive in favour of the teaching of STEM subjects.


19:40 - Stipends up by 10%

Moving on to education – Caruana kicks off this tract of measures with a big one: Stipends for students will increase by 10%.

Besides this, any student eligible for a stipend will remain eligible even if they work a part-time job of up to 25 hours per week.

This will mean an increase of around €5 million across both of these points to all students.


19:39 - New mechanism to deal with inflation

Caruana confirms that the COLA for this year will be of €1.75, and says that a new mechanism which deals with inflation for vulnerable families will be introduced next year.

The new mechanism will work independently from the COLA, and while details here are scant, we’re informed that the government will be giving more details in the coming days.


19:37 - Discussions on minimum wage, parental leave at MCESD

Free childcare will be extended for another year, and Caruana says that the government will enter into discussions with the MCESD so that the country is in a position to implement EU directives on parental leave and work-life balance next year.

The government will also be discussing the minimum wage "so that a common position for the country which is good for both workers and businesses" can be found.


19:34 - Part-time tax rate down to 10%

The tax rate for overtime will continue to decrease, with workers who do not work a managerial position and who have a salary not exceeding €20,000 per year will be taxed at 15% for their overtime up to €10,000.

In a big measure, the part-time tax-rate will decrease from 15% to 10% which will mean that 23,000 workers will be able to enjoy a total of €5 million in reduction in income tax.

The In-Work benefit will have a significantly extended eligibility: Couples who earn up to a combined €50,000 a year will be eligible (up from €35,000) while single parents will be eligible if they earn up to €35,000 a year.

The tax refund cheques meanwhile will increase to between €60 and €140.


19:29 - New In-Work Benefit for those who work atypical hours

Those who work atypical hours (which translates to those who work either night shifts or weekend shifts) will be granted an €150 in-work benefit if their basic salary doesn’t exceed €20,000.

This will apply to various sectors such as manufacturing, catering, transport, and accommodation services.

Around 40,000 workers are expected to benefit from this.


19:26 - Employment

We’re moving onto the economic side of the Budget now, as Caruana speaks about how the government wants to invest in human capital and refers to the recently announced national policy for employment.

A skills census on all those in employment will be run in the early part of 2022 – the first such census of its kind in Europe, not just Malta, with a total investment of €2 million. 

A digitalisation audit of workplaces will them follow.


19:23 - New Foundation for Affordable Accommodation

The Equity Sharing Scheme will also be extended and will be open to people who are over 30 years of age, so that they can have access to the housing market, with the government guaranteeing up to 50% of the property value.

The government will be offering the sum of €300,000 per year together with the Archdiocese to administer a new Foundation for Affordable Accommodation, which will primarily target those people whose income is over the threshold for social accommodation, but low enough that it is still a struggle to enter the property market.

The tax rate for those who buy or sell property which has been rented at an affordable rate to those eligible for the rent benefit will also be halved.

The New Hope Guarantee scheme  - which the government announced earlier this year – has been included in this budget as well.


19:19 - Accommodation sector next

Moving on to the accommodation sector, Caruana says that around 680 families are expected to be allocated homes through the “Rent to Assist” scheme.

Caruana says that the first programme of intergenerational accommodation – which will hold around 80 residents, both youths and elderly – will kick-off in 2022 in buildings which were given a new lease of life from dilapidation as part of this programme.

The building of 500 apartments through European Investment Bank funds is in its final phase, while works on another 700 apartments through the passport scheme fund (NSDF) are also continuing.

A semi-specific Care Plan to address particular needs of people when it comes to accommodation and fight dependence on this accommodation will also be implemented this year for the first time, with a view of this being extended to all those in social accommodation.


19:15 - Investment at St Vincent de Paul

St Vincent de Paul, a state elderly home, will see more investment, with the installation of a new specialised CT Scan machine.  This will tie in with a project which saw an X-Ray machine installed in the same complex.

A garden specifically for people with dementia will also be opened at the residence. 


19:13 - New vehicle to help those who are disabled learn to drive

A Community Hub for people with disability will be opened in the North of the island, while psychology services for people with disability and their families will also be extended.

A ‘Drive from Wheelchair’ vehicle will also be purchased so that those who are disabled can learn how to drive.  Specialised training will be given to driving instructors so that they can provide training on this vehicle as well.

The INK Project – part financed by the EU – will also continue giving training and work experience opportunities to people with a disability.


19:11 - Grants for vulnerable children at school

A grant of around €10,000 per year will be given to heads of state schools so that vulnerable children are not left without basic resources or foodstuffs.  The use of these funds will be up to the heads of schools themselves.

Over 1,300 children with a disability who need occupational therapy will benefit from a number of vouchers which can be used for such therapy in the private sector, thereby reaching the aim of early intervention for children with disability.

Investment will also be made for more schools to have Autism Units and Braille machines, while the assistance given to these children is being planned to continue even after post-secondary education.


19:08 - Means test for disability assistance to be removed

Part-time workers will now be allowed to pay social security contributions on more than one part-time job, up to 40 hours a week of employment.

People under the age of 61 who are still living with their parents and receiving invalidity pensions can benefit from medical aid if they satisfy a number of conditions.

The means test for assistance for those with severe disability will also be removed from next January.

Legal restrictions for those who end up disabled because of a work accident but keep working and get a pension for injuries on the workplace will also be removed so that these people can apply for future illness benefits.


19:06 - More pension measures

There are more pension measures, in relation to pensioners who inherit things from people who pass away – we didn’t quite catch the details, but we know that donations of up to €20,000 will not be factored into pension calculations.


18:58 - €11 million set aside for past injustices

The Carer at Home scheme will increase from €6,000 to €7,000 per year, with 750 people benefitting from this.

The subsidy rate for the Home Helper of Your Choice will increase from €5.50 per hour to €7 per hour.

Meanwhile, around €11 million has been set aside for another year for dealing with injustices for a raft of people including, but not limited to, former dockyard workers, former disciplined forces workers, and apprentices who joined the government after 1979.

Caruana says that all these measures equate to an increase of almost €70 million.


18:56 - Increases in children's, disability allowances

Around 21,000 elderly people will benefit from a €50 increase in the grant to elderly citizens who are still living in the community or in a private home for the elderly – meaning that this grant will now sum up to €400 per year.

The bonus given for parents who have a child or adopt a child will increase by €100 to €400 per year in what is a measure which 4,000 parents are likely to benefit from.

The allowance for children with disability will also increase by €5, with the allowance now totally up to €1,560 per year.  1,700 families are expected to enjoy this.

The grant for carers of people with severe disabilities will also increase from €200 to €500 per year. Around 450 parents currently enjoy this benefit.


18:54 - More free medicines and treatments

There will be an increase in medicines and treatments provided for free, Caruana announces.

Amongst the new medicines are: oncology medicines, medicines for treating circulation illnesses (affecting 7,000 patients), psychiatric medicines (affecting 5,000 medicines), fibromyalgia medicines (affecting 2,600 patients), and medicines for IVF medicines.

Osteoporosis treatment, which will benefit 20,000 patients, will be made free as well.

From next year, all those who are over 80 years of age will be automatically eligible to medical help for free - something which will be done without the need for a mean's test, meaning that 4,500 elderly people will be able to receive medicine for free for the first time.


18:52 - Increase in annual bonus for those who do not qualify for a pension

A €150 increase to the annual bonus is being given to those who reached retirement age but did not qualify for a pension because they did not have enough contributions.

That means that the bonus for those who have amassed less than five years of contributions will increase to €400 per year, and for those who paid more than five years will increase to €500 per year.

12,500 people or so, mostly women, will enjoy this increase, and it’s the fourth time that it’s being given since 2015.  


18:51 - Service pensions increased as well

The pensions for those whose partner has passed away will also be increased by €5 per week.

12,000 pensioners will receive this increase, which comes at a government cost of €3.3 million.

Service pensions will also increase by €200 so that the total now stands at €3,066.  That measure will affect 3,250 service pensioners with a total spend of €2.7 million by the government.

Another measure affecting pensioners is an increase of up to €2.50 per week or €130 per year by gradually paying all those who retired after 2008 the cost of living bonus.  43,000 pensioners are expected to enjoy this increase, with the government spending €2.5 million on this measure.


18:49 - More increases for pensioners

Meanwhile, the Supplementary Help for around 29,000 people will increase once again in a €5.6 million investment.

Married people or couples whose income in 2022 does not exceed €14,318 will receive a supplementary help of between €3.47 and €6.50 per week depending on their income, while single people – including those whose partner has died – who received no more than €10,221 in a year will receive between €4.10 and €5 per week.

Under this and with the pensions scheme taken into consideration, pensioners will receive over €500 per year.

The tax on pensions will also be adjusted so that the increase in pensions in this Budget will not be taxed.


18:47 - COLA is €1.75

Hidden away in that first announcement is this year’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), which this year stands at €1.75 per week.

That €5 per week pension increase includes the €1.75 COLA.

It’s the second year in a row that the COLA was of €1.75 – this will likely be a very-much criticised point, with complaints about inflation on the up and with the COLA mechanism already being the centre of debate as to whether it should even be used in the first place.


18:46 - Pensions up by €5

With that, we can dive straight into the measures which form part of the Budget for 2022.

The first is that pensioners will enjoy an increase of €5 per week on their pensions – the seventh year in a row that pensions are increasing – which will total up to €260 per year.

The measure is expected to cost €24 million, and will affect 95,000 pensioners.

 


18:45 - We're not going to promise heaven on earth, but we promise to make a better Malta a reality

Moving onto the Budget theme, Caruana says that the inspiration for today's speech and plan was to leave a Malta which is better for our children.

He says that the Budget will include the biggest number of social measures which this country has seen in a Budget, and that it will be focus on the importance of economic development through the country's people.

Caruana says that the Budget will also include the biggest financial package dedicated to the environment and sustainability which a government has ever put together.

"We're not going to promise heaven on earth, but we promise to work with a sense of genuineness and determination to work towards making the Malta you want to leave to your children a reality," he says, as he brings his introduction to a close.


18:43 - We weren't perfect

He says that while they weren't perfect, the country had been led with sense and wisdom during the pandemic - both in keeping services such as swab testing free, and in acquiring enough Covid-19 vaccines before anyone else.

"Like in the Second World War, our country shone in the most difficult moments," Caruana said.

He said that Malta is proud and thankful for its frontliners, who took the country through this period.


18:40 - Unemployment figures central

Caruana continues by listing a raft of articles and statements which showed how people believed that the country and many businesses would go belly-up owing to the pandemic.

This didn't happen, Caruana says as he continues speaking about how the government had succeeded in protecting workers and their jobs. 

He says that Malta's unemployment rate had gone from 3.6% in 2019 to 3.2% in August this year - a statistics which has been central to the Labour government's efforts to show Malta's post-pandemic economic recovery.


18:39 - Early swipe at the PN

An early swipe at the Nationalist Party: Caruana notes that had the government fallen to pressures for the country to go into a full lockdown, the country would have been shut down for a year and a half.

"Had we done like the PN government did ten years ago, we'd have told you 'what happened, happened', left you to flounder, and then sent five bulbs to your house," he says.


18:37 - Covid-19 characterises the introduction

Caruana starts his speech with prose, looking back to 9 March 2020 – the day the Covid-19 pandemic threw Italy into its first lockdown.

He says that no Prime Minister in Malta’s history had to face and take the decisions which Robert Abela had taken, but that he was proud that Malta had not only faced the challenge of the pandemic head-on – it had done a better job that countries far bigger than it.


18:33 - Here we go!

As Speaker Anglu Farrugia gets the parliamentary formalities out of the way, Clyde Caruana kicks his first Budget speech off.


18:26 - Not long now

We're expecting Caruana to start his Budget speech in around five minutes, as PQs come to a close.  Keep following here and kepe refreshing your page for updates.


18:15 - Caruana and the famed briefcase

As PQs go on in Parliament for now, here's a shot of Caruana walking into the building holding the famed Budget briefcase.


18:12 - What we expect: no new taxes, focus on employment

Caruana has already said that the budget for 2022 will be another without an increase in taxes.

The slogan for this budget is: “The country you wish to leave for your children”.

Although the country is recovering economically from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, proper investments in key sectors, especially in terms of employment need to be proposed, Caruana had said in the run-up to today. Employment and skills seem to be two issues which the budget will likely have a focus on, given the way the Finance Minister spoke about them recently.


18:00 - Here's how things will happen this evening

A little bit of background before we get underway. Parliament is set to come in session at 6pm, with the plenary sitting starting with Opposition MPs asking parliamentary questions to the government benches.  That's standard procedure for any parliamentary sitting, and will take around half an hour to complete.  We will then move on to the Budget speech proper at around 6:30pm, which will be presented by Clyde Caruana.

It's the first time he will be presenting the Budget speech, with his predecessor Edward Scicluna having presented those before today.  Caruana was only co-opted to Parliament last year - coincidentally, on Budget day.

Once Caruana has concluded his speech, both the government and the Nationalist Party are expected to address a press conference on what they'd have just heard.

We will be covering Caruana's speech as it happens here, and we'll also be filtering in any reactions which come in as they arrive in our inbox.


17:52 - Clyde Caruana meets the President

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has met President George Vella at San Anton Palace to present the Budget to him, before making his way to parliament.


17:45 - Good evening!

Welcome to our yearly appointment in covering the Budget, with the government set to announce where Malta's economic fortunes will lie in 2022.

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