Malta out of recession
'Hard-working families still in human recession' - PL leader
Malta has made it out of the recession six months before the government's cautious June forecast, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday, pointing to strong investment in capital projects and the economy as reasons for growth in the last quarter.
Provisional statistics published yesterday show that in real terms, Gross Domestic Product grew by 0.5 per cent in the last three months of 2009, after contracting in the previous three quarters.
"I'm very pleased," Dr Gonzi said at a press conference shortly after the official figures were released.
Only last week, Dr Gonzi had said Malta was well on track to come out of the recession by June, depending on whether tourism picked up. But in comments to The Times yesterday, he said he had been cautious in his predictions because the country's economy was easily affected by other countries.
"The fact that Malta is out of the recession proves the government's strategy has given us results - now we have weathered the storm," he said.
He remained cautious, saying the statistics should be consolidated by the NSO data to be published in June.
Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said public expenditure and investment in capital projects were needed to generate more economic activity. "Investment is the key to emerging from the recession," he insisted.
He pointed out that although the growth figure in the last quarter was not "large", countries had plumbed the depths of recession in 2009.
"Malta hit the bottom and then in the last quarter we started the road to the country's economic recovery," he said.
According to the official statistics published yesterday, the economy declined by 1.9 per cent for the year.
In a statement, Labour Leader Joseph Muscat said Dr Gonzi's statements confirmed that he was out of touch with people's daily lives.
Although sectors of Maltese society might be out of recession, hard-working families were still in the middle of a "human recession", Dr Muscat said.
"If Lawrence Gonzi is so convinced that he did the trick and has solved all problems, he might as well want to withdraw the sky-high water and electricity bill increases he voted for last week," the statement said.