Budget fails Caritas poverty test - PN

Nationalist Party once again says that Monday’s budget is only a cosmetic one, without a clear vision and accuses government of deceiving those most in need

The PN has once again said the Monday's Budget was a cosmetic one which lacked vision and which does nothing for the poor
The PN has once again said the Monday's Budget was a cosmetic one which lacked vision and which does nothing for the poor

Nationalist MPs Paula Mifsud Bonnici, Robert Cutajar, Stephen Spiteri have said that Budget 2017 fails, in concrete terms the ‘Caritas poverty test’, and that those that are most in need will be doing worse as a result.

The MPs pointed out that the Caritas report on poverty had found that Maltese families with two children and one parent on a minimum wage need €11,446 a year to get by – an increase of €800 when compared to three and a half years ago. Despite this, they said, Monday’s budget will not make up for this difference adding that not only will these people not be doing better, but they will actually be struggling more.

For this reason, they say, it is not surprising that over the past three and a half years, the number of people at risk of poverty has increased by 6,000, up to 94,250, with the elderly making up a large part of this figure.

“This government has been lying to families that are most in need of help for three and half years and now it is doing so again by telling them that this is a social budget,” they said.

They said that the worst part of this deceit is that 41,000 people living in poverty will be given 61c a month to try and counteract the increase in the price of food.

“Joseph Muscat, Edward Scicluna and Michael Farrugia are continuing to deceive pensioners when they tell them that they are going to give them an increase of €4 a week with their pension. This is a lie, because only 2,500 people  – those who are married and on the minimum pension - are going to benefit from this measure. This in addition to the fact that this is not really an increase of €4, but of only €2.25 because €4 includes the cost of living increase that will be given to everyone,” read the statement.  

Finally they said that Monday’s budget is a cosmetic one and one from a government without a vision because it is full proposals which have been copied from previous budgets, pointing towards the announced €50m housing project and measures such as the allowance to be given to carers of the elderly.

They said that is it easy to notice how detached from the realities being faced by Maltese families Joseph Muscat is, when he boasts about an increase in spending on social services, arguing that it is significantly less than subsidies that the government is giving to one public transport company.

In comments made yesterday to MaltaToday, Caritas director Lenoid McKay said that the voice of the weakest in society is finally being heard, however he said that the measures announced in the budget must be seen as ‘just the start’ rather than the end of the social budget.

McKay however said that he was disappointed that the minimum wage had not been increased arguing that with the economy doing well, if the minimum wage is not released now, he could not understand when it would be.

Finally, he warned that while the measures announced were a positive step forward, the success of the budget would have to be viewed once the market adjusts and that a further increase in food and rent prices would render the measures irrelevant.