Scicluna: Budget should make people aware of waste, traffic and housing

The finance minister said that despite their long-term nature government was confident in it's ability to address these challenges

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne (left) and Finance minister Edward Scicluna (right)
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne (left) and Finance minister Edward Scicluna (right)

Finance minister Edward Scicluna has said that yesterday's budget should have made it amply clear that the country was facing three major challenges in traffic congestion, waste management and housing. 

“Government is saying, and is confident, that it can face these problems," he said, noting that it had succeeded in out doing itself in the past.

Scicluna was addressing a press conference, the day after announcing the country's first surplus budget in a while, where he said important decisions needed to be taken on waste management, insisting that nobody wanted more land to be used for another landfill. 

He said that on rents, government did not panic nd resort to knee-jerk reactions like the introduction of "antiquated rent-controls". This, he said, would simply have resulted in less private sector investment in housing.

“On the contrary we want a higher stock of housing on the market,” he stressed.

Turning to traffic, Scicluna said that Malta needed a culture change. “The elephant in the room that nobody talks about is that we have to reduce the use of the personal car,” he said, adding that government's measures aimed at traffic congestion were targeted and likely to leave a positive impact.

Scicluna said the budget was strong because the economy itself was strong, and this in turn was due to past budgets, all of which were “prudent” and “consistent”.

He said the fact that the economy was expected to continue growing at a rate of 5% offered peace of mind, that it would continue to produce and would continue allowing the government to spend were necessary.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said the budget was one that gives peace of mind and a “certain sense of serenity” because it did not take anything from people.

“It’s a budget which, after an election four months ago, shows that life has continued with the same rate we were used to over the previous four years,” he said.

Fearne added it was a budget that laid the foundation for future developments, insisting that the fact that a surplus had been registered last year, allowed government to introduce more forward-looking measures.

“Past budgets would have people calculating how much they had lost, where they would have to find out whether they were better or worse off the day after,” he said, adding that everyone in the country was better off the day after the budget.

Above all, Fearne said it was a budget that improved the quality of life of Maltese people, through increases in minimum wage, pensions.

“Not only did we not increase taxes but we increased wages and therefore left more money in people’s pockets,” said Fearne.

He insisted the budget was part of a wider plan that would be addressing the country’s biggest problems. Ultimately, he said it was a budget that offers “normality” and continuation with the previous four years.