Social partners react to Budget

This is how unions and employer organisations reacted to Budget 2021

GWU: Budget gives security, stability and peace of mind

Economic prudence and fiscal discipline over the past few years has enabled government to present a budget with no tax increases, the GWU said.

It welcomed the extension of the COVID wage supplement, the increase in the in-work benefit and measures to help the most vulnerable, including pensioners and the disabled.

The GWU also welcomed the compensation for former drydocks workers who got sick as a result of asbestos.

UĦM: Budget lacks innovation

Government could have been more innovative in their budget proposals, especially given the circumstances brought on by COVID-19, UĦM said. 

Satisfied with the renewal of the voucher and tax refund schemes, UĦM found fault with the lack of teleworking initiatives and measures to help pay utility bills.

The UĦM lamented the lack of a bonus for frontliners in the budget document, and said that the proposals do not reflect the extraordinary circumstances.

MDA: Proposals ‘a step forward’

The Malta Developers Association has been welcoming of the budget proposals. They praised the decision to extend the First Time Buyers scheme as well as the introduction of lower taxes for property buyers and sellers. They noted that initiatives towards higher investment in sustatinable machinery and other incentives favouring the green economy as a “step forward in tune with the MDA’s overall vision.”

“The announcements are a step forward so that the property market and other important sectors such as the renewable energy section, all represented by the MDA, continue to contribute towards the sustainable development of the Maltese economy at large while giving a much needed input towards a rapid boost and increased confidence in the current difficult economic scenario,” MDA said.

FORUM: No new burdens on workers

Forum Unions Maltin commended the government for not only recognizing the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, but also for not imposing any new burdens on workers.

They praised the government for building on existing initiatives, including the extension of the wage supplement and vouchers schemes. Among the proposals is an extra day of leave for when holidays fall on weekends, an initiative originally proposed by For.U.M.

However, the forum expressed their disappointment over the failure to fulfil an election promise to allow parents to utilise their sick leave when their children are ill.

Malta Union of Teachers: Limited budget on education

Acknowledging the less-than-normal circumstances brought on by 2020, MUT says that the government should go beyond restrictions and instead give direction to sectors and adequate resources to educators so that they can carry out their work. “Since the budget was limited with regards to education, the MUT will look at the detailed estimates and discussions from the Ministry for Education and Employment in order to better understand what’s planned,” they said.

MUT also urged the government to think in the long-term when addressing serious problems in education, making particular reference to the shortage of educators during the pandemic.

The union further noted that one of the few services linked to literacy was stopped due to the circumstances. “The MUT hopes that next year this service, along with other services, will not get back on their feet but will be strengthened so that educators can continue to offer these invaluable services,” they said.

Malta Employers Association: Welcomes stimulus, cautious on growth projection

MEA has expressed cautiou on the 5% growth projection for next year due to uncertainty on the duration of the pandemic and the Moneyval verdict.

The MEA described the budget as “a sprinkling of benefits and fiscal incentives targeting various sectors of society”, aimed at “stimulating local demand.”

It has also welcomed the “effective” increase in pensions, the increase in VAT exempt thresholds from €20,000 to €30,000 for businesses and a renewed voucher scheme.

However, the MEA shot down the increase in optional leave, which it described as a “frivolous measure” which will erode competitiveness.

Malta Chamber of SMEs: Thumbs up for wage supplement but no VAT cut

The Malta Chamber for SMEs expressed a positive verdict on the extension of wage supplements and other incentives introduced during the pandemic.

But the chamber expected more tax incentives to be included in the budget including a decrease in VAT rates, which would have served to boost new investments.

MHRA: Budget that helps tourism industry survive

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) said government delivered a budget which averts the worst effects in the near future being caused by the pandemic. MHRA expressed confidence that measures will be taken to speed up the recovery as soon as the pandemic subsides.

The association welcomed the extension of the wage subsidy to employees working across the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector till March 2021. “This is a key measure which in the circumstances is being considered as a vital lifeline by MHRA members,” the association said.

The association said the extension of the vouchers scheme was important to sustain the operations of hotels, restaurants and other economic sectors.

It also welcomed the various initiatives aimed at improving the environment and quality of life of all citizens, and the emphasis on green developments and schemes to mitigate the effect of climate change.

The MHRA noted efforts to look at the future by setting “strong foundations for matters related to the creation of new economic sectors such as Esports”, and support to boost the conference and incentive business segment. MHRA commended the increase in the allocation of funds for the Malta Tourism Authority.

It described the budget as ambitious and in the right direction. “The budget is allowing for enough space and ability to craft further action as may be necessary at the most appropriate time,” the MHRA said.

GTA: Budget's focus on green economy and digitalisation can help Gozo diversify

Expecting the reintroduction of financial measures taken during the pandemic, the Gozo Tourism Association noted the renewal of the vouchers and wage supplement schemes, which will "help the tourism establishments endure the winter months."

The GTA more happily notes that their proposal for the updating and renewal of the Diving Master Plan for Gozo was included in the Budget document. 

"This budget is evidently focusing and concentrating on green economy and digitalisation. The Gozo Tourism Association believes that the Island of Gozo can optimise on these two niches and thus start slowly to diversify its economy, which presently is heavily dependent and reliant on the tourism sector," GTA said.