Busuttil: Every country that voted-in the left ended in a dead-end

Every European country that had voted-in a leftist government found itself in an economic dead-end, PN Deputy leader Simon Busuttil said this morning.

"Wherever you look, the results are the same. Countries that voted in socialist parties found themselves with higher unemployment rates," he said at a press conference about taxation.

Dr Busuttil cited Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and France as examples, arguing that economic growth and unemployment figures had risen since leftist Francois Hollande took over from conservative Nicolas Sarkozy almost one year ago in France.

The PN deputy leader used a floral metaphor to describe the party's focus on job creation: work - "the seeds of growth" - needed to be "watered" with incentives and investment for the "flowers" of health, education and social spending to bloom.

Dr Busuttil said the PN had reduced 25 taxes in this legislature and was committed to reducing more over the next five years. He cited the party's pledge, already part of this year's dormant Budget, to lower income tax and said the PN would also seek to broaden income tax bands. He said that the income tax levied on single minimum wage earners would be done away with, following the controversy that had arisen following last Budget speech.

"On point of principle we don't want to add to people's tax burden, so we had no problem removing it," he said.  Property taxes would also be lowered, with rental properties only paying 15 per cent in tax rather than the existing 35 per cent, and residential properties passed on from parents to children exempted from succession tax. Women, the elderly and the disabled would also be fiscally incentivised to join the workforce, he said.

Asked about electricity tariffs, Dr Busuttil said that the PN proposals to incentivise alternative energy sources meant people "will have the tools" to lower their electricity bill.

Bills would have gone up if it wasn't for a €25 million annual government subsidy to Enemalta, he pointed out.

Dr Busuttil was asked if the PN considered the €25 million subsidy a long-term fixture. "We cannot predict what oil prices will be next year or in the next five years. Nor gas prices, for that matter. We are honest," was his reply.

He also shrugged off suggestions that talk of clamping down on tax evasion was not backed by concrete action, saying tax evasion was "the first thing listed" in the relevant chapter of the PN electoral programme and arguing that many had complained that the previous government had been overly harsh in dealing with would-be evaders.

The EU believes Malta's black economy is among the largest, relative to its GDP, across the 27 member states.



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