Budget 2012 is ‘cautious and neutral’ says Forum

Forum of Maltese Unions (FOR.UM) reacts to Budget 2012, describing it as “cautious and neutral” but adds that one can look at it both positively and negatively.

In its official reaction to Budget 2012 which was announced by finance minister Tonio Fenech last Monday in parliament, FOR.UM argued on eight positive and eight negative points which arise from the measures.

FOR.UM considered as positive the increases in the lowest rate of children's allowance, the removal of television licences, incentives for the restoration of derelict buildings in Urban Conservation Areas, added incentives for private school tuition, harmonisation of part-time work to a 15% tax rate, the allocation of €20 million to strengthen Air Malta, the €300 benefit to octogenarians who live alone at home, and the new parental tax band.

On the negative side, FOR.UM said that the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) does not reflect the burdens carried by families, and argued that thousands of workers, especially civil servants will not benefit from COLA, given that they are covered by collective agreements.

FOR.UM said that it disagrees with the €5 duty increase on every tonne of cement, as this will trigger increases in the price for bricks, pre-cast roofs.

The union added that it expected government to keep its electoral promise and revise the income tax bands, in a bid to stimulate the economy and increase the potential for purchasing power.

No reference was made to the implementation of measures aimed at strengthening health and safety at places of work, even though laws have been in effect for a number of years.

No reference either was made to the growing trend of precarious work.

Regarding the extension of maternity leave, FOR.UM said that government should not have abdicated from its responsibility and passed the buck onto the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) - where FOR.UM is excluded.

In conclusion, FOR.UM said that pensioners aged between 61 and 79 have been ignored, together with thousands of families with children who cannot benefit from the new parental computation.