Pre-budget document expected within coming week

The Labour government’s first pre-budget document is expected to be ready by the end of next week, in what should be followed by whirlwind consultation meetings with the social partners.

Edward Scicluna's finance ministry appears to be in the final stages towards the publication of the pre-budget document, the policy document which serves as a forewarning on government direction to the social partners.

In recent years, the pre-budget document was published earlier on in July, although in 2012 the document was published at the beginning of August.

It will be a hectic summer in preparation for the 2014 budget, especially since the plan will have to be green-lit by the European Commission.

Upon its election in March 2013, Joseph Muscat's new government had to present the 2013 budget, which had not been not passed in December 2012 and which paved the way for the elections. The budget was passed in its entirety in May.

Since then, the Chamber of SMEs (GRTU) has complained that no draft budget was presented to the Malta Council of Economic and Social Development for discussion with employers and union leaders.

GRTU Director-General Vince Farrugia complained last week that with just over two months remaining before the presentation of the budget to the European Commission, no pre-budget document had yet been published.

The document will be expected to reaffirm the government's plans to raze the 3.3% deficit down to 2.7% by the end of 2014, while at the same time announcing a reduction in utility tariffs - a campaign promise that Labour claims it will achieve through a total switchover to liquefied natural gas to power the Delimara plant.

Joseph Muscat has also suggested that foreign companies in Malta will have to pay the same taxes that Maltese companies do, claiming that foreign-owned companies had found "ways and loopholes" to evade certain taxes.

I hope that Gejtu Vella will be asking for a good pay rise, lets say between €50 and €500 a week. It will be justified when considering that he was in favour of the €500 pay rise to the PN Cabinet during the last legislature. Come on Gejtu, where have you been hiding lately?