A budget from the heart

This budget is more than just a financial plan; it is a testament to our nation’s unwavering dedication to supporting those who are most in need

The Maltese are known for their immense compassion, and the latest budget truly exemplifies this quality as it is inherently a budget created by the people, for the people. It encapsulates the profound generosity of our nation. This budget is more than just a financial plan; it is a testament to our nation’s unwavering dedication to supporting those who are most in need, even amidst the challenges and uncertainties gripping the world.

While debate has revolved around critical policy measures like increased pensions and children's allowances, it's imperative to shed light on some lesser discussed yet profoundly impactful policies.

I'd like to start by emphasising a measure that is significant to me.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play an indispensable role in our society, touching the lives of the most vulnerable, safeguarding our environment, and advocating for animal welfare. Starting next year, companies that generously donate to NGOs will receive a tax credit of €500. This heart-warming incentive is poised to ignite a wave of corporate generosity, channelling much-needed funds into the hands of these organizations. The impact of these donations will be monumental, providing NGOs with the resources they need to continue their invaluable work.

I'm happy to say that funding for animal health and welfare programmes has increased to €8.2 million, almost one-eighth more than the previous year. While this might seem modest in comparison to the €350 million committed to stabilise energy prices, it represents a genuine step forward in improving the lives of animals and vulnerable communities.

The same principle extends to the allocation of half a million euros for distributing free menstrual products to girls in our schools. Findings from studies conducted in the United States, show that in the richest economy globally, girls frequently miss school due to the unaffordability of menstrual products. Our budget takes a stand against this injustice, ensuring that our girls are supported, and period poverty is confronted head-on.

Another heartfelt initiative is the extension of social security credits. Previously, mothers had to have been employed before giving birth to qualify for credits when caring for their newborns. This left teenage mothers and university graduates without the support they deserved. The budget rectifies this injustice, ensuring that all mothers receive credits toward their pensions.

The allocation for personal assistants to disabled persons is increasing by nearly a quarter, while social assistance for rehabilitation programmes is also receiving a significant boost. The tax credit for parents of disabled children to cover therapy expenses will more than double. Additionally, free access to medicines for IVF, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and mental health conditions is being expanded, highlighting our commitment to well-being.

The budget also places a strong focus on sustainability and community. It encourages investment in sustainable finance, such as green or blue bonds, and identifies areas in need of economic and social regeneration. Investment in inner harbour projects and community-led greening initiatives promises to rejuvenate our neighbourhoods, returning 80,000 square meters to the people. Capital allocations for new green projects have more than doubled, while maintenance budgets are significantly increasing. For example, the maintenance budget for Ta' Qali National Park is quadrupling, preserving these vital spaces for generations to come.

Simultaneously, the budget introduces initiatives focused on bolstering our communities. Police Patrol and Community Support Officers will increase patrols in areas requiring more security, serving as vital links to neighbourhood watches. Community Policing services will expand to all localities, and a new Roads Policing section will improve accident response.

The budget is taking a crucial step towards addressing the pressing issue of domestic violence by establishing a regional centre dedicated to supporting victims. This initiative signifies more than just financial allocation; it symbolizes a collective societal commitment to breaking the cycle of abuse. The provision of panic alarms, linked to the police's central emergency system, ensures not only immediate assistance but also a lifeline for those facing distressing situations. This goes beyond policy; it's a compassionate response, acknowledging the need of aiding victims and offering a tangible sense of security and support.

These initiatives, and many more, form the foundation of a budget born from the heart, with the lives and well-being of the people in Malta and Gozo at its core. It is a profoundly human budget, dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for our citizens in countless and diverse ways.

The author is a lawyer and the prime minister’s wife