‘Good budget that steers country away from financial storm’ – GRTU

Chamber of SMEs says cautious budget steers country away from precipice.

The Chamber of SMEs described Budget 2012 as a welcome budget that moved the country in the right direction away from the financial storm afflicting other member states, and praised finance minister Tonio Fenech for a determined approach in cutting down the deficit.

"While we believe the minister was relatively cautious, GRTU believes he could have further curbed public spending," the GRTU said.

The GRTU said it was satisfied that the 'deficit disease' was being addressed, but felt there was more room for fiscal discipline.

"We welcome the numerous schemes government has for enterprise and SMEs, and the guarantee on bank loans for enterprise to help them with their cash-flow problems.  We also welcome the new ETC schemes that help small business cut down salary bills for new employees and their training, as well as new incentives for the IT and creative industries."

The GRTU said it was particularly positive about the new tax band for parents which it said would improve their purchasing power. "Our members complained that the country's gross private consumption was low and sales were not positive in the last years, so this will come as a boost for retailers."

The GRTU said its proposals to increase the use of vacant housing were not taken up by the government, but welcomed incentives for the renovation of old properties.

The GRTU also said a 37% increase in capital spending over 2011's revised figure was an important increase, saying this also had to be directed as small entrepreneurs and not just to large contractors. "We want to see a wider spread of this money in the sector of road construction," the GRTU said.

The chamber noted little progress on the creation of more green jobs as had been hinted at in its pre-budget document. "We wanted the necessary structures to have waste management schemes create new jobs."