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Few increases, some cuts and many frozen schemes

Where money will be allocated over the next year

Tonio Fenech before presenting the Budget on Wednesday. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Tonio Fenech before presenting the Budget on Wednesday. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Expenditure was frozen in most areas for next year as Finance Minister Tonio Fenech walked a budgetary tightrope.

By keeping expenditure static on most programmes and reducing it in others, the minister ensured recurrent spending would grow by less than three per cent.

The increase is mostly fuelled by the natural yearly rise in wages and pensions and higher costs for consumables.

The most evident example is in the health sector, where the expenditure on medicines next year will increase by €4 million to top €68 million.

However, other areas experienced severe cuts. The breast screening programme lost more than half its budget and will have to make €1 million stretch.

In a similar vein, programmes targeting obesity and sexual health had their budgets halved to €100,000 each.

The national cancer plan, which had a budget allocation of €1.2 million this year, will have to do with €800,000 in 2013.

While stipends will still take a big bite out of the education cake at €23.2 million, the literacy initiatives budget was almost halved to €30,000.

Church schools will receive €48.5 million in state aid, up from €45.2 million.

The subsidy to state television company PBS will increase by €500,000 while the voucher system to alleviate the energy burden on families in need will cost public coffers €4.3 million, an increase of €100,000.

Social welfare agency Sapport will see its budget increase by €230,000 but on the flip side anti-drug agency Sedqa’s budget will be cut by €130,000.

A total of €300,000 was set aside for a residence for disabled people in Gozo.

The budget allocation for Parliament jumped to €8 million, from €3.6 million, but the hefty increase is mainly a result of the higher rent payable for the new building at City Gate, Valletta.

The €3.7 million rent will be payable to an investment company set up by the Government this year to buy, develop and manage strategic real estate projects.

The police budget will increase to €51.7 million from €49.2 million but there will be less money to cover operational and maintenance expenses.

While police allowances were upped by €2.5 million, the allocation for overtime was cut by €100,000.

The army will also have its budget reduced to €40.3 million from €40.6 million.

There will be less money for tree planting and climate change initiatives but the Government gave €150,000 for a scheme to restore wells and €200,000 to help motorists convert their cars to work on LPG gas.

The Malta Tourism Authority budget was retained at €28.5 million but an extra €1 million was allocated for market initiatives and route development.

A new initiative will see €200,000 spent to encourage domestic tourism to Gozo in the winter months.

And with an election due next year, the Electoral Commission’s budget increased to €5.8 million from €3.7 million to cover the additional costs.

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