Economic reality better than what the figures show - minister
Economic reality in Malta was different from what was being shown by statistics, with positive results being achieved in employment, exports and wages despite the fact that the country was officially in recession, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said this morning.
Mr Fenech was addressing a working breakfast held to collect feedback from the social partners in preparation for the next budget.
He reiterated that the statistics were influenced by Enemalta's losses because of the government's decision not to increase utility rates, and lower exports by ST in the first month of the year.
GWU general secretary Tony Zarb and MUMN’s Paul Pace MUMN said that the government should use the next budget to give people more purchasing power because various measures taken over the past few years had squeezed workers dry. This should be done especially if the situation was not as bad as it was being painted.
Mr Pace noted that the government had not yet implemented its promise to reduce the highest income tax rate to a maximum of 25 per cent.
In his reply, Mr Fenech seemed to indicate that this promise will not be delivered, noting that it was the government’s only promise made in its electoral manifesto that had not been implemented.
He said that other measures which were not promised in the electoral programme had been taken, including measures encouraging women to return to work.
Government actions, he said, were dictated by the reality that had developed after the economic crisis and although the government was still committed to reducing labour taxes, it had to do this in a balanced and prudent way.
Malta Employers’ Association director general Joe Farrugia said it was disappointing to see Parliament cut off from the economic reality over the past few weeks and months and debating other measures. He urged MPs to focus attention on country’s real problems.
GRTU president Paul Abela said that road works in Gozo had been detrimental to businesses and said that the government should issue temporary incentives to help them recover.