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The responsible choice

While the electorate chooses its representatives, their representatives take decisions and make choices that affect the life of those who elect them. It is easy to make choices which ensure popularity and which ensure that public perception surveys swing in your favour.

In these troublesome international circumstances and economic realities, we had to take a number of decisions, which ensured the protection and creation of jobs in parallel with the strengthening of the sustainability of our finances. It is only thanks to responsible decisions taken in terms of our nation’s finances that for next year we can continue investing further in education, health and in incentives aimed towards job creation.

This is no Budget which throws caution to the wind. Yet, it can still be an important electoral tool to the Nationalist Party. And it can be so without prejudicing our hard-earned financial stability and reputation. Rather, it is a Budget that responds to the basic aspirations of the Maltese society and, most importantly, to the bread and butter issues on which people will decide whom to trust with the power of responsibility for the next five years.

It is precisely in this context that I am contesting the PN’s deputy leadership post. I believe that, following the economic and financial achievements of the past five years, this Budget clearly shows that the PN in Government remains the party that offers the solutions for our country’s future. My will is to work side-by-side with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi in delivering and clearly explaining this message to our families.

Europe is not out of the woods yet. Indeed, it is forecasting negative growth this year and more job losses in 2013. In this context, incentivising economic growth and job creation is paramount. Unfortunately, the Labour Party has repeatedly shown it has no plans in this regard and, to make matters worse, is promoting among its front-liners former ministers that wrecked havoc to the Maltese economy, resulting in mass unemployment.

Over the past five years, we fought with all our strength unprecedented challenges. An economic crisis of global proportions. Revolutions a few hundred kilometres south of our shores. Record prices for essential products including oil and cereals. Against all odds, we delivered. We delivered jobs. We delivered economic growth. We sustained our investment in education and in our health services.

We made responsible choices towards the well-being of our families, the backbone of our society. In contrast to other countries, which had no other option but drastically increase taxation and reduce welfare spending, we have reduced or removed over 17 taxes over this legislature. This Budget builds on these achievements with yet another income tax cut – the third in this legislature.

This is the result of economic and financial stability. This is the result of having the courage to make difficult but responsible choices. This is the result of your trust in successive Nationalist administrations.

And it is precisely this trust which I am seeking from my fellow Nationalist councillors in tomorrow’s election. Together with the Prime Minister, we have the two best tools to deliver electoral success: a strong economic performance and a visionary Budget, which offers the solutions in favour of the quality of life you aspire to.

Tonio Fenech is Minister of Finance, the Economy and Investment.

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