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[WATCH] Budget 2017 introduces ‘a new wave of social services’ - Joseph Muscat

Joseph Muscat: ‘Now that government is giving more to help those most at risk of poverty, it’s time for social partners to engage in a discussion on minimum wage’

miriam
Miriam Dalli
17 October 2016, 10:25pm
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, deputy prime minister Louis Grech and finance minister Edward Scicluna address a press conference (Photo: Reuben Piscopo/DOI)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, deputy prime minister Louis Grech and finance minister Edward Scicluna address a press conference (Photo: Reuben Piscopo/DOI)
Time to discuss minimum wage - Joseph Muscat
Budget 2017 introduces “a new wave of social services” which targets a generation and supports the most vulnerable, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

In a joint press conference with deputy prime minister Louis Grech and finance minister Edward Scicluna, Muscat said that all measures are sustainable.

“The plan has been always been that of stabilizing the economy, generate growth, create work in abundance and then target those people who cannot keep up with the rest of society.

“Now is the time to help these people and it is now possible to launch this new wave of social services in Malta.”

The government has announced a new set of measures mostly targeting pensioners, persons with disability, and families who are in poverty or at risk of social exclusion. Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, in the budget presentation, also announced that it was a government’s goal to target children under the age of 16 and ensure that none of them are at poverty.

“This is a generational goal which we will be delivering in a sustainable manner,” he said.

“This is possible thanks to our deficit and debt targets – what we’re giving today is affordable and sustainable.”

In reply to a question by MaltaToday, Muscat reiterated that it was time for social partners to sit round the table and start discussing minimum wage. The government, he said, has opted for a system where the burden to help the vulnerable was taken by the government. There have been consistent calls by the civil society for an increase in minimum wage, which however have been mostly rejected by social partners.

“I had called on social partners to launch a discussion on minimum wage but it appears that this fell on deaf ears,” Muscat said, adding that there must be a decision on how it could be adjusted.

There is an agreement, he added, that the cost of living adjustment does not reflect today’s realities and needs to be updated.

The Prime Minister however went on to argue that it was not just a question of increasing the minimum wage: there are approximately 3,600 people on minimum wage according to studies, half of which are most probably foreign. He went on to add that, once increasing the minimum wage, the probability is that all other wages will go up.

Taking questions on traffic, Muscat said the government was against a system whereby it makes it less affordable to own a private car. Instead, the government was targeting different groups to encourage the use of shared transport.

Encouraging people to take part in a public consultation launched by Transport Malta, Muscat suggested that he favoured the use of a metro or underground.

miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...