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Busuttil lambasts Budget as ‘visionless’, insists electricity tariffs should have gone down

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says government should have reduced electricity tariffs, give plans for an alternative transport system inthe 2017 Budget

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
17 October 2016, 10:26pm
Simon Busuttil - Budget Reaction
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil hit out at the 2017 Budget as “cosmetic and visionless”, arguing that it should have included electricity tariff reductions and more concrete means to tackle traffic.
“This is a Budget without a vision about what sort of country we want to leave behind for our children,” Busuttil told a press conference.

“It didn’t introduce a single economic sector, and did not even mention the middle class, despite Joseph Muscat’s constant claims that he leads a government for the middle class.”

He criticised the Prime Minister for not reducing electricity tariffs, describing it as an “anti-climax”.

“The government could have easily reduced tariffs, thanks to the interconnector and BWSC power station and the fact that the international price of oil has plummeted,” he said.

“The people will wake up tomorrow morning and their electricity bills would not have changed.”

He also criticised the government for failing to mention what sort of alternative transport system the country should invest in, and for not even referring to mention the LNG gas tanker that will be berthed in Marsaxlokk Bay within the Budget.

Busuttil added that it didn’t include the government’s plans to deal with the economic ripple-effects of a Brexit, nor its plans to combat pressure within the EU for a harmonized European taxation system, nor its plans for when Malta’s current package of EU funds expires in 2020.

He dismissed the government’s description of the Budget as a social one as “cosmetic”, claiming that new incentives such as the €4 weekly pension rise for married people living on a single minimum pension was nowhere near enough.

“The Budget failed the Caritas test on poverty,” he said, referring to a Caritas report published earlier this year on the state of people in poverty.

“Caritas had said earlier this year that people in poverty are now in a worse state than they were three years ago. The €4 weekly allowance increase for married pensioners on a minimum pension isn’t enough as it doesn’t even make good for what they had lost three years ago.”

Busuttil argued that people will still “be begging for cancer medication” whilst Air Malta employees will still remain clueless over their future.

“Malta deserves a lot better,” he added.

Arguing that it was “unbelievable” that no reference was made to the LNG tanker that will be moored at Marsaxlokk bay for 18 years, Busuttil expressed satisfaction that the opposition had still managed “to give” the government a social roadmap.

“The removal on income tax paid by pensioners and the reduction on dividends were all the result of the pressure the opposition exercised,” he said.

Another area where Busuttil said that the budget had failed was the environment. He said that expenditure on the environment had been reduced by €40 million, when compared to the previous budget.

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...