[WATCH] Abela gloats over Labour budget, tears into PN pre-budget document

Prime Minister Robert Abela delivers his budget speech replica in the House  

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela had a relatively simple playbook for Tuesday evening’s Budget speech, replying to Opposition Bernard Grech’s budget reply on Monday: propping up his ‘no-pain’ budget while tearing into a poorly-prepared PN pre-budget document whose spelling errors and idiomatic inaccuracies attracted press attention.

But Abela’s resounding policy plank was that Labour would keep propping up consumers against the threat of inflation sweeping the globe. “To move forward we have to protect people from inflation, to help those who are in the need the most, to continue supporting our children, and to improve people’s quality of life,” he said.

Unlike his finance minister’s rhetorical emphasis on “socialism”, Abela shied away from his minister’s ‘crimson’ revival, and said Malta was being led by a government with a “social soul”.

“Challenges evolve, and so do decisions. The secret to our politics lies in continuously reinventing ourselves,” Abela told the House. “Challenges change, and so does government’s work.”

New faces, same old energy policy

Speaking on the energy sector, the PM said that when energy and fuel prices increased drastically across Europe, he had insisted on the stability of prices in Malta. “The Opposition leader on the other hand, wants the prices to change according to international rates,” he said. “That is where the €600 million are going,” he said, rebutting to questions put forward by Grech in his speech on Monday.

He criticised the Opposition for not making its position clear on whether it would retain the current energy price levels, should it be in government. “You did not even include one line about this in your pre-budget document. It was just more of the same.”

He said despite the “new faces”, the PN’s policy on energy was still the same. “You are still led by the extremists of Gonzi PN and Simon Busutill.”

Abela then slated the Opposition for saying that the government’s budget is filled with the same old measures. “Dear leader of the Opposition: I cannot say that you are more of the same because you are going from bad to worse.”


On Monday, Grech criticised the increase in public debt under Labour administrations, with Abela hitting back that the increase was attributed to measures to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war. “Tell us: which aid would you have withdrawn? The wage supplement?” he asked. “You’re obsessed with debt, when debt under a PN government stood at 70%, and now it stands at 57% of GDP.”

He said his government had an ambitious economic programme lined up for the upcoming five years, “which will bring about a new prosperity.”

FATF greylisting

The PM looked back at the FATF greylisting last year, saying the Opposition’s “fear mongering” had proved futile. “We all remember how much the opposition leader tried to scare people with the grey listing. We managed to get off the list in record time,” he said. “Contrary to what he said, this year we registered record numbers of foreign investment.”

Abela said financial rating agencies have ranked the country at the highest rank it has ever been, which he said proves how sustainable Malta’s economic model is. “To lead the economy, you need to be credible,” he said. “Your economic policy on the other hand has remained the same.”


Speaking about poverty, Abela said that the Budget worked to reduce the poverty.

Last year, Abela said, there was criticism that the Budget was driven by the fact that it was the last one before the general election. “And despite no general election next year, workers will still receive the tax rebate cheques,” he said to his parliamentary group’s sonorous approval.

He pointed out how two years ago there was no allowance for carers for family members with a disability. This Budget increases the grant they receive by €4,000, Abela said.

He praised the Nationalist government for implementing the COLA mechanisms of the 90s. “Instead of simply objecting to anything the PN government had done, we continued to strengthen it by introducing a second COLA mechanism to target the most vulnerable.”

The PM said that even the pleas of unions were heard, with the COLA adjustment that was introduced.


Abela said housing was a sector that had always been prioritised by Labour administrations. “We always strove to ensure people are owners of their own properties,” he said, mentioning a number of measures introduced by the government in aiding families and individuals to enter the property market.


The PM said his government had prioritised the improvement of the environment and the creation of more open spaces. He said the government had kept its promise to immediately retain a huge expanse of land at Zonqor outside the development zone, after the 2022 election.

Ahead of a crucial decision regarding the planning appeals board on a permit for development at Hondoq ir-Rummien, Abela insisted his government will continue to support those fighting for the area to be preserved. Abela said his government would also close the Sant Antnin plant and turn the area into a green urban regeneration project.

On transport and traffic, the PM said a solution could be achieved through a multi-faceted approach, which includes public transport, infrastructural investment and mass transportation.

In his concluding remarks, the Labour leader said government will continue to turn challenges into opportunities, while creating a “new prosperity.”

“The greater the obstacle, the stronger the Maltese people,” he said.