The government was urged today to control a number of ‘dragons’ which are limiting economic growth.

Prof Joseph Falzon, a consultant for the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) listed what he described as the ‘dragons’ at a meeting of the social partners with Finance Minister Edward Scicluna ahead of the presentation of the Budget next month.

He said the social partners were generally positive about the way the economy was growing and the deficit was being reined in, but the ‘dragons’ holding back further growth needed to be tackled.

Among them, he said, was bureaucracy in the civil service, road congestion which was costing man hours, the need to continue to improve the added value of the manufacturing and exporting sectors, and the urgent need to have a better trained workforce.

“The education system has failed our students,” he said.

Other points, he said, included energy costs. While the government had reduced energy tariffs, private sector organisations were calling for more measures to maintain competitiveness as costs were reduced abroad as well.

It also needed to be ensured that the financial services industry had higher value added as it faced the threat which EU tax harmonisation would pose to its competitiveness.  

Prof Falzon said businesses were also calling for easier and cheaper access to finance.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna welcomed the fact that the social partners had made 450 suggestions and proposals for the Budget and said the purpose of today’s meeting was to hear what they had to say.

He said Budget targets were becoming more ambitious and it needed to be ensured that all measures were well funded. He said the Individual Investment Programme (the passport scheme) was not an exit route and only a third of its income would be used in the Budget. 

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