PN reveals ‘realistic’ electoral promises

‘We’ll build on our achievements’

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announcing the highlights of the Nationalist Party’s electoral programme yesterday, as deputy leader Simon Busuttil looks on. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announcing the highlights of the Nationalist Party’s electoral programme yesterday, as deputy leader Simon Busuttil looks on. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The PN yesterday unveiled the main highlights of an “ambitious but realistic” electoral programme based on incentives in the energy, education, health and social areas.

Titled “Another Quality Leap”, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that after two weeks of “testing the ground and listening to the electorate” the PN was now showing where it wanted to take the country in the coming legislature.

“We will continue building upon what we have already achieved. We will deliver another quality leap forward based on solid foundations,” he said.

In a dig at Labour, Dr Gonzi said his party was not presenting an unrealistic wish-list but a concrete programme based on what the country could afford and deliver.

The electoral programme, which is expected to be approved by a special session of the party’s general council tonight, focuses on incentivising people and the country in important economic areas.

One target is creating more jobs, with the PN aiming to increase employment by 25,000 in five years.

To give people a better quality of life and inject more money into the economy, the PN is pledging to implement the measure introduced in the last Budget which would lower the upper income tax limit to 25 per cent from the current 35 per cent over the next three years.

A future Nationalist government would also re-define tax bands so those on lower incomes could reap more benefits.

Incentives to stimulate people to open their own businesses would be introduced.

Certain categories, including people under 25 or over 45 and those on the unemployment register for five years, would be given a two-year tax holiday if they set up their own business.

This would increase to three years for women or those opening a business in Gozo.

Encouraging more women to work is another focus.

The PN said it would issue €5 million a year worth of childcare services vouchers to working or studying parents.



“Unlike Labour, we do not believe that childcare services should be free and almost state-run. We want the quality of services to be of the highest standards and the private sector to continue to invest,” he said in reference to the PL’s pledge to introduce free child care centres in a public-private partnership.

“Our measure will apply to all parents working full or part-time or with flexi-hours. Even parents who are studying will be entitled to vouchers,” Dr Gonzi said.

Another proposal, which has already been implemented in some European countries, is the use of the existing sick leave entitlement by parents to be used when their children are ill.

“Parents can start setting their mind at rest that they can stay with their children in case they are sick. This will incentivise more parents to consider working.”

Lower energy tariffs are also on the programme. While stating that the PN is against building an LNG terminal on the same site as the power station, as the Prime Minister said this may be risky, the party is promising to build a gas pipeline by 2018 with EU funds.

In the meantime, as soon as the electricity interconnector linking Malta to Sicily goes on stream in 2014, the Government would introduce a night tariff to reduce the cost of electricity between seven and 26 per cent from 10pm to 6am.

The programme includes “green” schemes to stimulate energy efficiency in households and industry and the installation of renewable energy systems.

On education, the PN promised to build a new school every year, to give students a pro-rata cost-of-living increase in their stipends and to distribute a tablet computer to all students and teachers up to secondary school level.

Next week the PN will publish detailed costings of all its proposals, including the one on tablets, and the source of their financing.

Party deputy leader and programme author Simon Busuttil told The Times these were just the highlights.

“We are showing that we are the real change and that we are full of ideas for the next five years. This is just the beginning and much more is yet to come,” he said.

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