Debt growing to sustain public spending, says Opposition leader

PN leader said that the budget only caters for the present day and does not account for the future needs of the country

PN and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech
PN and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech

PN leader Bernard Grech has accused the government of putting the country further into debt with a budget spending programme that only takes into consideration its short-term gains.

“This is a government that has indebted our country. €5 billion more in debt between 2020 and 2024 [...] The budget shows that the government has no strategy and no sense of direction. The speech was over 90 pages long but only reserved three pages for the future. There is nothing but debt for tomorrow under this government,” said Grech. 

He stated that the budget was not credible and that the government had already failed in its aims by accumulating double the public debt it had estimated for the end of 2021.

Grech said that the public debt increase was not the result of the pandemic, as Finance Minister Clyde Caruana had stated when he tagged the pandemic cost of the country at €1.5 billion. “The debt is a result of corruption, lack of direction and reckless spending”. 

The measures that Grech said were positive included those which the PN had insisted on, like free IVF medication for women. 

He said that the government had no vision on the main economic sectors like manufacturing, financial services and blockchain, which he said became only a buzz word. 

Grech also argued that the government did not allocate any funding for the rising cost of living and that those who are suffering will not be helped, as the “government spent everything on corruption […] Just €1.75 for the rising cost-of-living but the government had enough millions for Vitals and Electrogas”. 

Grech criticised the lack of studies on the metro and said that people would have to wait until the next budget for the project to start. 

He said that the government had gone full circle when it comes to raising university stipends, and agreed with what the PN had been saying for long. 

Grech said that only a PN government would guarantee a strong country and that he will be laying down the vision on how the economy could bounce back. 

MaltaToday asked the PN leader whether as a prime minister Grech would have refrained from borrowing money in order to rebalance the books in the midst of crisis. He said the government had been reckless in its spending, by engaging in corruption and by dishing out direct orders. “A PN government would have managed to create wealth by diversifying the economy. This government did not create any new industry, except for the selling of passports”. 

READ MORE: Finance Minister unveils Budget 2022 document