Election early next year, irrespective of vote outcome - Gonzi
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has promised to do his best to immediately implement all the Budget measures he is allowed to implement if the Government loses tomorrow's vote, including the cost-of-living-allowance.
If the Budget does not pass, he will tomorrow give a step by step account of what happens next regarding the election, which he promised would be held early next year, irrespective of the outcome of the vote.
The other Budget measures which cannot be passed without a positive vote would remain on the table as proposals of the Nationalist Party for the upcoming election, he said, refusing to corroborate the probable March 9 election date mentioned by The Sunday Times today.
Speaking during a PN meeting in Zebbug, Dr Gonzi called on the Opposition to do the responsible thing and vote in favour of the Budget which, after all, it had agreed to implement. He also said it would have been "irresponsible" of him not to propose a Budget that was approved by the EU.
If this was just about confidence in the Government, the Opposition should just call a confidence vote after the Budget or should just register its lack of confidence by voting to reduce the salaries of each minister.
"If instead of the traditional Lm1 you want to reduce €5 or even the entire pay, do that, but don't vote against families," he said.
Dr Gonzi also defended the Government's decision to have single minimum wage earners pay income tax, thanks to the increase in cost-of-living-allowance.
Stressing that this did not apply to parents or married couples, he said the fact that these minimum wage earners were now paying €60 income tax meant that their salaries increased and were or frozen as others would have wanted.
But to compensate for this, the Government was willing to give €600 for six months to those who opted for training.The Budget allows for €25 to be paid weekly to minimum wage earners who opt for training.
This was the big difference between Socialists and the Nationalist Party, he said.
Deputy leader Simon Busuttil also addressed the meeting, saying the PN had become a victim of its own successes. While focusing on results, the party allowed Labour to sow the seeds of negativity in the country. He called on supporters to stand up and respond to people who criticised the Government unfairly and said the PN could win again.