The Malta Independent 22 January 2022, Saturday

Grech pledges to increase 25% tax bracket to €80,000, bonus to all frontliners

Monday, 18 October 2021, 21:33 Last update: about 4 months ago

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech made a number of pledges in Parliament today, saying that if elected, a PN government would give a bonus to all frontliners, travel vouchers to youths and widen the 25% tax bracket.

Grech was delivering his official reaction to the Budget for 2022 in Parliament on Monday and presented what he called an 'alternative budget'.

"We will recognise the work of frontliners. A PN government will give a bonus amounting to a total of €14 million divided among all frontliners. "These funds will not come from the pockets of the Maltese and Gozitans. These funds will come by cutting government expenditure by half on persons of trust. Currently these contracts are growing, and the last figure is 700 contracts that the ministers are giving out as they please. We would reduce these contracts and save €14 million that will instead go towards this bonus."

Grech said that there were good measures in the budget, others which the PN would build upon, and issues that were ignored by the government.

"We said that this is a budget just for today, that forgets about tomorrow. It is clear that the PL only cares about reaching the election."

He said that the finance minister says in two years the government would go €2.8 billion into debt. "The minister said the pandemic cost €1.5 billion. That leaves €1.3bn debt that is coming from bad leadership, from direct orders and flawed contracts that the government entered into."

He criticised the government for always using buzzwords. "They promised us 'l-Aqwa Zmien', we are now the only EU country on the grey list."

He praised a number of budget measures, including the reduction on income tax for part-time work and the property measures, free medicine for IVF and for cancer, the increase in pensions.

On the increase in stipends, he said the government finally agreed with the opposition on this. "Finally the PL found a way to increase them by a bit. We want to increase them by more than that."

He said that the solution to solving the skills shortage is not always through importing labour. "The government needs to plan for certain sectors before hand by having a vision."

"How can we avoid ending up without teachers and nurses for example? By urging people to go into courses which are most needed." He said that a PN government would not only increase stipends by 10%, but would increase the stipends for the most needed professions, like nurses, teachers, social workers, care workers and others by another 25% to attract students to those professions.

Another education proposal was made by the PN. He said that since Malta is a small country, there is need to widen our horizons and experience different cultures, languages and lifestyles. "I am announcing another electoral proposal, that youths aged 16-21 will be given a special €500 voucher for travel in Europe to any country that would include a cultural, educational, sport of crafts element."

On the free public transport for everyone, he said, "better late than ever."

Grech said that a PN government would promote dedicated car sharing and car pooling services to carry people to work or back home. He also said that a PN government would ensure Malta has a fully electric public transport fleet by 2025.

A PN government would see how, from next year, a mechanism would be introduced for fiscal incentives where employers would receive tax credits when investing in skills and increasing employee wages. He also said that the PN believes that a living wage concept should be established.

Turning to property, Grech said that a PN government would create a State Guarantee Fund that would make good on bank loans that cover 10% to 25% of the price of a property, "enough to cover a deposit that right now makes it nearly impossible for hundreds of Maltese to purchase a home."

He also said that a PN government would introduce a VAT exemption capped up to €10,000 on all costs related to finishing and furnishing for houses and apartments bought unfurnished or in shell form. This will be tied to more energy efficient buildings.

Turning to Gozo he spoke about 'broken promises' made by the government to Gozitans. "You promised a new social housing building in Taċ-Ċawla, not a single brick was laid. You promised an elderly care home in Ghajnsielem, it wasn't completed a year ago and nothing changed today. You promised a new court building, a new astronomical observatory, a new Health Centre in Rabat Gozo, you promised works on Calypso's cave, nothing happened or work is behind schedule."

The PN pledges to invest in two new Gozo ferries, a new helipad on the Gozo hospital and the construction of a new 400 bed hospital in Gozo.

Turning to the environment, he said that after 8 years of killing the environment, now the government realised that the people are fed up of what they have done.

Grech said that the environment must be the first pillar to guide the economy. He said that the intention behind the Inwadar afforestation project is a good one. He criticised the land the government gave to the Sadeen Group. "Unacceptable," he called it. He said that the PN would undertake the Inwadar project, but would also take back Zonqor.

Grech spoke about sectors that were "forgotten" by the government in the budget. He said that what has happened has resulted in a "persecution of the small fish" referring to the aftermath of the greylisting. "You keep defending the big fish," he accused.

He spoke about property agents and notaries, who need to create very detailed due diligence on everything under the threat of a fine of up to €60,000. "They are paying the price for your corruption, your abuse."

The PN would create a specialised unit to help in the due diligence research needed by notaries, lawyers, accountants and other professionals.

The PN leader also made another pledge, that a new PN government, in its first budget, will extend the maximum income of the 25% tax bracket from €60,000 to €80,000.

Grech also said that if elected to government, the PN would extend the VAT exempt bracket from €30,000 to €60,000, "which will help thousands of small businesses, self-employed and professionals."

On energy, he said that the government is stealing from the people through energy bills. "It is no wonder people are receiving high bills that they are not understanding and cannot pay."

"While thieving from the people, they give Electrogas a bonus," he said.

"The government promised to fix the bill mechanism. But it would be better if you pay back the amount you stole and are still stealing from the people. A PN government would give the people back all the money that was stolen from them."

Another proposal is that family doctors would be free for all those over the age of 60.

The funds to pay for all this will come from new economic sectors, Grech said. "The first trigger would be a change in government," he claimed, arguing that currently foreign investors are being sent the message not to come to Malta due to the state of impunity.

The PN government would, he said, start extensive reforms of measures to attract foreign investment. He added that a PN government will promote innovation and investment. "We are working on a system so that, when company profits are not shared in dividends but instead invested in workers, research or into other forms of investment, they will not be taxed." He also said that investment in the research and innovation sectors will be tax free for the first million euros.

"We need to be able to attract the internet giants, including online platforms like, Facebook, Google and Amazon. They don't necessarily need to be the companies that we know of already, actually an emphasis must be on identifying those sectors that will grow in the years to come, and offering them a tailor made product."




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