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Budget is not an election exercise – Gonzi

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi in Qrendi yesterday, flanked by PN deputy leadership contenders Tonio Fenech (left) and Simon Busuttil. Photo: Jason Borg

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi in Qrendi yesterday, flanked by PN deputy leadership contenders Tonio Fenech (left) and Simon Busuttil. Photo: Jason Borg

The Budget is not an election exercise but one of long-term financial planning, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

If all it takes is putting up billboards, I would go to the Greek Prime Minister and tell him how to solve his country’s problems.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the Budget is expected to include a tax cut, partially fulfilling the PN pledge to lower the top rate to 25 per cent for those earning up to €60,000.

Dr Gonzi, however, did not mention any specific measures that might be taken but instead criticised the Opposition’s pledge to lower electricity rates without indicating where it would get the money to do so.

“It is easy to promise people more money in their pockets,” he said with reference to a Labour Party billboard carrying that slogan. But in the end it all boiled down to making responsible choices.

“If all it takes is putting up billboards, I would go to the Greek Prime Minister and tell him how to solve his country’s problems,” he told party supporters in Qrendi.

He also ridiculed former Labour Prime Minister Alfred Sant’s decision to contest the European Parliament election in 2014.

“He is the same man who campaigned for partnership and hit out at the EU,” he told a cheering crowd, adding that Labour could not be trusted.

Dr Gonzi referred to the hard negotiations he had in Brussels last week on the forthcoming EU budget. He said the Government would continue to fight for more funds to come Malta’s way as he was not yet satisfied with the money allocated.

An initial proposal was for Malta’s EU budget allocation to be slashed by half to some €400 million.

The Government resisted this and at the end of the Brussels summit last week the sum was increased to some €600 million.

However, EU budget talks were inconclusive and there is a long road ahead before agreement is reached.

Turning again to domestic politics, Dr Gonzi praised the health service and insisted Malta was the only other country, with Germany, to increase its spending on health services despite the EU crisis.

He pledged a Nationalist Administration would continue to invest in the health service, referring to Mater Dei hospital as the previous PN Administration’s finger print.

Dr Gonzi also announced that dementia sufferers would be able to start receiving an expensive medicine for free on the national health scheme from next week.

He was answering a question by a doctor on the medicine Axura, that costs sufferers some €500 a month.

The medicine is so far not available on the free medicines list. PN deputy leadership contenders Tonio Fenech and Simon Busuttil were also present but did not make any speeches.

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