Prime Minister plays down ‘electoral budget’

‘Unlike Muscat, I have been facing real crises and trying to safeguard jobs’

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi

Budget 2013 is "not an electoral budget", Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said on RTK radio today, insisting that yesterday's budget of tax cuts for high income-earners was drawn up within the parameters of the European Commission's strict monitoring.

Yesterday's budget cut income tax for a wide range of high income-earners from the top tax band of 35% to 32%, for those earning €19,501 to €60,000, with a commitment to reduce the tax to 25% by 2015.

"This is a measure that was part of our electoral programme," Gonzi said of his 2008 promise to reduce taxes for everyone.

"We feel that low-income earners have already benefited from previous incentives from our budgets," Gonzi said, mentioning various initiatives in the form of increased children's allowance, supplementary pensions, childcare allowances, and added social transfers for people on minimum wage.

Gonzi said this year's COLA would supplement minimum wage, while parents on minimum wage would earn €1,155 in children's allowance, and their children who attend university would get a higher supplementary stipend.

"We felt that our economy could take this step - we had our finances in a good state, our economy was showing good signs, and we felt we could leave more money in people's pockets in the belief that this could create more growth," Gonzi said.

The prime minister hit out at criticism by the General Workers Union, which had demanded a six-month cost-of-living-adjustment allowance. Gonzi said there was no indication he would change an annual system that enjoyed the support of the social partners.

"I still feel the GWU is married to Labour as it was way back in the 1980s... my concern is that we go back to the days when this union defended Labour's interests instead of the workers' interest. Even its newspaper l-orizzont today is the voice of the Labour party. I don't think unions should defend politicians but workers."

Gonzi also hit out at the reaction by Opposition leader Joseph Muscat to yesterday's budget, which was followed by billboards lauding Labour's ability to deliver the budget's promises if elected to power in 2013.

"Countries that suffered inside the eurozone had leaders like Muscat - he is enjoying himself in his glasshouse, coming out with ideas thinking he can solve all the problems in the world. On my hand I have been facing real crises during these past five years."

Gonzi faces a real risk that he calls elections in early December if Nationalist MP Franco Debono votes against the budget, a warning he sent months ago when he demanded the resignation of transport minister Austin Gatt from the government cabinet.

"If somebody has decided not to have faith in Austin Gatt, should I take note of this concern or should I not safeguard jobs, invest in schools and social benefits? This is our duty, a duty to take the best decisions possible, and it is thanks to these decisions that Malta is in the state it is today."

@ konfuxu & xifajk...taghmlu tajjeb li ma turux min inthom ghax il-kummenti taghkom huma bla sens u tad-dahk. Darba kien hawn gazzetta jisima 'Il-Gannett' intiza biex iddahhaq. Dnub li m'ghadiex tohrog ghax kieku il-kummenti taghkom kienu jidhru fiha. Ahjar tuzaw daqsxejn mohhkom u tirringrajaw il-Bambin li ghandna gvern bil-ghaqal u jaf x'qed jaghmel qabel ma tohorgu tiktbu l-hmerijiet biex iddahhku n-nies bikhom. Il-hasra hi li ma tindunawx li l-kummenti li qed tiktbu huma redikoli. Araw daqsxejn l-ahbarijiet fuq l-istazjonijiet tar-RAI l-BBC t-TV5 Monde, Spanja etc ha tifthu daqsxejn mohhkom u hallikhom mis-Super One. L-ghodwa t-tajbe.
Budget?What budget? Its simply an electoral gimmick since Gonzi knows that the budget will not be voted in!
@konfuxu U minn dawk l- 4 ewros trid taqta il- BOLLA, TAX, U IL COLA. U kien hawn min spicca anke b inqas min ewro zieda, ghax ikun fl-inqas skala tal paga. U ezjed ma jkollok skala fil paga, izjed tiehu. Mela is-sinjur sar iktar sinjur u il-fqir gie ifqar. U bil haqq il-gvern ta GONZIPN FOTTINA SENA, ghax ghat 2011 ma hadna xej.....
Ma nafx x'gost jiehu l-poplu jisma' il-Budget...bla bla bla bla bla u tigi s-sena u kwazi jinbidel kollox jekk ikun ghawn ricessjoni fid-dinja, kalamitajiet, glied fil-partiti, l-oppozizzoni, l-alternattiva etc etc etc jehlu huma. Il-budget hu dak li kull persuna jirnexijla tghamel kull gimgha biex iddawar ir-rota tal-hajja. Dak li jkun ha 4 euros ikollu jitqanna bijom u dak li jkun ha 500/600 euro ma ghandux problemi u jkompli jzid mal-ghoqda li jkollu l-Bank. Hela ta' hin u magna biex tiddiversifika l-opinjonijiet publici.
...Unlike Muscat, I have been facing real crises and trying to safeguard jobs’......... and told the Maltese Nation that you could see clouds and storms on the horizon and gave the workers 1.16 euros, but you (DR L Gonzi & Co) took 500/600 ewros weekly.