Scicluna refutes Busuttil's claims that salaries have gone down for 70,000 people

Finance minister Edward Scicluna denies Simon Busuttil's claim that salaries have gone down for 70,000 people over the past year, says total wages have actually increased by €240 million between 2014 and 2015 

Finance minister Edward Scicluna delivers a speech in Parliament.
Finance minister Edward Scicluna delivers a speech in Parliament.

Finance minister Edward Scicluna has refuted claims by Opposition leader Simon Busuttil that salaries of some 70,000 workers have declined over the past year.

Delivering a speech in Parliament during a debate on the finance ministry’s budgetary vote, Scicluna said that Busuttil had quoted directly from the government’s Economic Survey – that sampled some 220 collective agreements.

“It was only based on actual salaries and excluded factors like overtime, bonuses and allowances,” he said. “How can Busuttil come to parliament and claim that salaries have reduced, based solely on the sample? Is it possible that nobody had advised him that the data was unreliable?”

Scicluna added that National Accounts data showed that salaries in 2015 increased by a total of €240 million over the previous year, and that a recent study conducted by research agency MISCO indicated that salaries have increased by an average of 4.9% over the past year.

The finance minister dismissed the Opposition’s warnings that the government lacks a long-term vision and that it has failed to identify new niche markets to exploit.

“The government’s vision is for Maltese people to enjoy the same standards of living that exist in wealthier European countries, for our children to have the same opportunities as their northern European friends do, for pensioners to no longer be vulnerable, and for poverty to decline dramatically.”

He claimed that the Opposition’s “negativity” has blinded them from realizing the extent of investment that the Labour government has attracted.

“Look at how they had criticised the sale-of-citizenship scheme, the partial privatization of Enemalta, the American University of Malta, the Electrogas power station, and the investment in three hospitals, among others…”

Scicluna said that his target is for Malta’s debt burden to be slashed to 60% of its GDP by the end of the legislature, which if so would be 10% lower than it was in 2013.

“It is irresponsible for a government to loan out money and spend it irresponsibly,” he said, adding that French finance minister Michel Sapin and his Italian counterpart Pierre Carlo Padoan had both personally praised him for this turnaround.