Mothers, whose children were born in 2007, will get a 12-month tax break, even if they have since returned to work, as part of the government's goal to entice more women to the working world.

Those who choose to get a job after a five-year absence will also receive a one-year tax holiday for every child under 16.

Malta has the lowest rate of women working in the EU - 38.5 per cent - falling short of its Lisbon targets to almost double female employment to 60 per cent by 2010. These incentives should help reverse the trend.

Women will also welcome the news that the government has prepared an action plan for a national breast screening programme to screen women aged 50 to 59 over the next three years.

The government reiterated its commitment to pump €1.4 million to provide the drug Herceptin for breast cancer patients and promised to set up a transparent system for the inclusion of innovative medicines to combat illnesses, especially with regard to cancer.

Meanwhile, to cushion the blow of the new water and electricity tariffs, those entitled for assistance will be given a voucher - this support is capped at €75.

Staying at home doing nothing will no longer be an option for the unemployed and those who have been unsuccessfully registering for a job for five years, while receiving benefits, will have to do community work.

Those who receive a Services pension will gain through a measure that reduces another €200 from this pension when the social security pension is calculated. This measure will cost €1.1 million.

Persons with disabilities will be exempt from paying succession tax if they inherit the property they were living in, which belonged to their parents or guardians.

As announced last week, the government will be footing up to 30 per cent of the monthly loan repayments of eligible first-time buyers over 10 years.

With regard to health, a common centre to coordinate the efforts of the health centres will be set up. A taskforce has also been appointed to analyse the service provided by family doctors to eventually create a database of patients.

The Blood Transfusion Centre will be upgraded and brought up to European standards with an investment of €2.5 million.

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