Budget to be presented this evening

The Labour government will be presenting its first budget this evening, retaining framework – except for one measure - presented by previous PN administration.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna will be presenting the government's first budget of the twelfth legislature, albeit it having been presented by the PN administration in December.

The government and opposition have agreed that the budget retains its framework except for one measure: government will be ensuring that minimum wage earners will not be taxed when receiving bonus.

Last Saturday, MaltaToday also revealed that the government is expected to announce a deficit figure of between 3.2% and 3.3%. During the Prime Minister's press briefing on Friday, Joseph Muscat announced that the deficit figure ranged between 3% and 3.5%.

In December, the then Labour Opposition had voted against Budget despite agreeing with the measures announced by former finance minister Tonio Fenech. It however had pledged that it would be presenting the same budget if elected to government.

The Budget was not approved after former PN MP Franco Debono's voted against it together with the opposition.

Debono's No vote followed months of internal strife within both PN and government.

During the first four months of the year, in the absence of an approved budget, the government's recurrent expenditure was limited to one-third of its €2.7 billion spent in 2012.

With 2013's budget not approved, a mechanism within the Constitution allowed ministries to spend up to 33% of the 2012 spend, up until the elections.

The capital expenditure programme of €424 million was not affected.

Scicluna will be presenting the Budget while delivering a speech on the government's policy. With the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister's reply taking place immediately, the Budget debate will take three days. The final vote will take place on Wednesday evening, with the Opposition having already pledged to vote in favour of the Budget as long as it was changed, with the exception of the minimum wage measure.

Parliament will be allocating 11 hours to discuss and approve the ministerial budget estimates.