Muscat: Labour will keep Budget's good points, but vote against it
Labour leader Joseph Muscat said this morning that Labour would vote against the Budget, but should the Budget be rejected, a Labour government would still retain its framework and its positive aspects in order to reassure investors and families.
Speaking at a political conference in Ta' Xbiex, Dr Muscat said it was worrying that the country could start the new year without having an approved Budget.
Such uncertainty was hugely detrimental to the country and investors.
The government was not saying what it would do to ease this uncertainty. It had not even announced the Budget date. That the government was doing nothing was irresponsible. The government was putting the interests of its clique before the national interest.
The prime minister had said that the Budget was a vote of confidence. Therefore the Opposition could not vote in favour of the Budget because it had no confidence in the government.
If the Budget was defeated, a new government, whichever it was, would need to present a new Budget.
He did not know what GonziPN would do. Nor was he really interested, Dr Muscat said.
However, while the PN was focused on its internal battles, the PL had focused on the country's future and how things could play out.
After consultations it had been decided that, in the national interest and to give the people peace of mind, if the Budget was defeated, a Labour government would still retain its framework. It would retain its positive aspects so as to assure investors, the workers, pensioners, and students.
"If pensioners receive something from this Budget, if students see progress in this Budget, if workers see advancement, if families are given new benefits in this Budget, if the self employed move forward after so much hardship, the Labour government will honour all these points," Dr Muscat said.
Therefore, he said, no one should try to scare people. The people would know that a Labour government meant certainty and stability.
Dr Muscat hit out at the government for not having kept commitments made in previous Budgets, such as achieving a balanced Budget.
Before the last election, the government had said it would bring down the deficit to €70m from €87m but instead it mushroomed to €268 million, of which €130 were run up in the first three months of 2008, ahead of the general election of that year. At the time it also said that the debt would rise by €46m but instead it grew by €247m in just one year. This went to show how the people had to be wary of what the government said in the months and weeks before a general election.
At the opening of his address Dr Muscat expressed his concern over the worsening situation in the Middle East and said that Malta should seek to offer its services as an honest broker.