The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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PM, Opposition Leader give opposing views on country’s economic vision following EY survey

Wednesday, 25 October 2023, 14:15 Last update: about 5 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela as well as Opposition Leader Bernard Grech gave speeches on Wednesday following the results of this year’s edition of the EY survey, giving opposing view on the direction the country is moving towards, as well as the economic vision.

Speaking at the Malta Future Realised Conference where the results of the EY survey – which showed foreign direct investment companies’ views on Malta’s attractiveness - were presented, Abela described the country’s economic performance as ‘superior’ as the government had at its disposal an economy that was nimble and dynamic.

“Equally important was our economic vision. Looking beyond the immediate challenges, my government continued to improve our economic model, investing heavily to turn our new vision into a new reality,” Abela said.

He said that government is taking a ‘very targeted economic approach’ by attracting to Malta more knowledge-intensive activities, with smaller undertakings, but leaving even more value-adding activities in the economy.

“Less jobs, more specialised, but jobs that pay more,” Abela said. He continued that the results emerging from the EY survey was “very heartening,” adding that most firms who were surveyed clearly saw their future in Malta, and find Malta to be more attractive for investment than our European peers.

Abela said that he acknowledged that the business community asked government to invest more to upgrade the nation’s physical infrastructure to help it address labour shortages, and government will transform these challenges into opportunities.

He took the opportunity to share insights on government’s draft budgetary plans, and said that government has set itself five objectives.

The first being that in view of the grave risks posed by the current international conditions, government is committing to continue to support the economy and shield it from shocks in energy prices.

Secondly, government will continue social support measures aimed at improving the welfare of those most vulnerable, and the third objective is that government will preserve fiscal sustainability and reduce its deficit by 0.5% annually till it reaches their 3% deficit target, keeping the debt ratio below 60%, Abela said.

Abela said that the fourth objective government has set is to strengthen Malta’s economy by investing to ensure the country has an adequate supply of skills, manpower, knowledge, and capital to grow the economy sustainably.

“Finally, an overarching commitment remains to improve the quality of life of every citizen. In this we believe facilitating the green economy and digital transitions is key, being the biggest economic opportunities for our generation to build a new prosperity,” Abela said, adding that there is the need to work to change the way things work and develop better ones.

Abela said that the reform of the taxation system can also be an opportunity to take bold decisions for the country’s future, following results on the EY attractiveness survey showing that most investors favour the current tax system.

“We have worked very closely with all stakeholders to ensure that our tax system will become even more effective and provide more targeted incentives for investment in physical and human capital,” Abela said.

He continued that he wants these incentives to apply to all firms, in contrast with what happens under the current tax system.

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said, on the other hand, that there is now the general consensus that Malta must “stop wasting valuable time” and rise to do all that is necessary to change the current economic model.

“While we witnessed a growth in the economy, we also witnessed a steep increase in government debt, and a deterioration of quality of life of citizens. Youths continue to pursue relocation outside of Malta,” Grech said.

He said that the PN has a sterling group ready to steer the country towards the right direction.

Grech said that Malta stands at a crucial crossroads, and it is a duty as a nation to change the course towards a brighter prosperous future.

“The PN envision Malta where the citizen’s wellbeing takes precedence, where there is integrity, innovation, where sustainability defines the economy, and quality of life is a fundamental right, not a luxury,” Grech said.

He said that the PN pledges to leave no stone unturned to combat corruption and rebuild the trust government eroded, focusing on transparency and accountability, and prioritising people, education, and healthcare as foundation for a prosperous society.

Grech said that clean energy is at the forefront of the PN’s environment agenda, and it is also determined to safeguard democracy and restore integrity, to create a Malta we can all be proud of.

He acknowledged that transformation will not happen overnight, but through a meticulous process demanding responsible leadership and business continuity.

Grech also said that Malta’s brand has been tarnished and this needs to be restored to ensure Malta as a respected business hub among others.

He said that the PN will commit to kick starting a process to reinvent industries with a new life, and has held discussions with stakeholders in a collaborative approach, describing the PN as a facilitator, guide and catalyst.

Grech said that the culture of “us” and “them” in politics must be done away with, and reiterated that the PN is ready and committed to delivering a prosperous Malta having engaged with all stakeholders.

“We are a rejuvenated force of hope for all citizens who aspire to live in a country where the government is unwaveringly dedicated to its people. The PN is a beacon of change and guardian of a brighter, more prosperous Malta,” Grech said.

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