Budget 2015 is expected to target welfare dependence by creating incentives that encourage people to get off State benefits, according to a consultation document.

The pre-budget document was released for consultation this morning by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.

"We do not want to see young people remain on welfare benefits for all their lives," he said, adding this will be the forthcoming Budget's focus.

The document titled 'Creating opportunities not dependence' was this afternoon presented to the social partners at the MCESD.

Prof. Scicluna said Budget 2015 will maintain a growth oriented strategy, ensure fiscal sustainability and strengthen competitiveness.

"We want to see a country taking on the challenges ahead with a certain level of confidence but not over-confidence," he said.

The budget focus would be to ease the fiscal pressure created by welfare and health expenditure. Prof. Scicluna said the health sector was riddled with inefficiencies that would have to be addressed.

He ruled out cutting welfare benefits and insisted the strategy would follow the positive outcome of schemes introduced in the last budget to encourage people to work.

Talks were being held with health insurance companies to reform the current system which saw companies paying their clients who opted for free health care at Mater Dei.

He said the Finance Ministry was still targeting a deficit of 2.1 per cent for this year and was not looking at revising the projection.

Addressing criticism over the increase in government employment over the past year, Prof. Scicluna insisted that public sector employment had not increased when calculated as a proportion of the labour force.

Giving an overview of economic and financial statistics, Prof. Scicluna said growth was in line with projections but expressed concern about the low inflation rate that could create pressure for wage cuts, which he insisted were not acceptable.

He also noted that the government was also expecting some €42 million in excise taxes on fuel collected by Enemalta and which were held back because of cash flow problems.

"We are expecting this revenue to reach the government when the deal with Shanghai is sealed," he said.

The document does not propose concrete measures, which the minister said will be announced in the budget, but gives direction.

A number of consultation meetings are being held this month with the public and social partners and a draft budget will be drawn up next month for presentation to the EU.

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