Busuttil calls on government to ‘grow up’ and start governing

Government should forget about campaigning and start governing seriously, PN leader Simon Busuttil says.

Reiterating that the 2014 Budget presented by the Labour government failed to fulfil three guiding principles in good governance, PN leader Simon Busuttil called on the government to "grow up" and start governing the country.

While hitting out at energy minister Konrad Mizzi for holding a "partisan" press conference on Sunday beneath the marquee paid for by the taxpayer, Busuttil said the government should exit from election mode and start governing the country "seriously."

In a press conference held at the PN headquarters in Pieta minutes after addressing Parliament, Busuttil repeated that the 2014 Budget included many positive measures but was dishonest.

"The budget was a good one however it aloso concealed its ugly aspects," he said, adding that the Labour government should show the courage to reveal reality in its entirety.

Insisting that the opposition will ensure that the budget measures are implemented, he slammed government for failing to acknowledge the PN's merit laying solid economic foundations.

Denying any contradictions in the opposition's criticism over the €170 million increase in taxation, Busuttil said the budget speech did not say where the money for the new measures was coming from and the opposition had to dig up the information in the budget estimates.

"How much will it cost? Who will pay for it? Will new taxes be introduced? Will any cuts be made? Will the country's debt increase?" he asked.

Pointing out that the budget would increase the tax burden by €72 million in new tax increases, Busuttil said this worked out at €170 per capita in new tax burdens.

"Taxes have increased and spending has been cut in a number of sectors such as primary health care, IT in schools, local councils and sport," he said.   

Claiming that these cuts were introduced to make good for the budget measures, he added that government will increase debt by €550 million, or €1,300 per capita.

"This is the ugly side of the budget, exposing the budget's real costs and who will pay for it."

The opposition, he said, had a duty to uncover the budget's ugly aspects such as the artificial energy bill reductions which he said will not translate in a 25% reduction for everyone as promised.

 "The government is saying that families that use less than 2,000 units will get a reduction of 35%, but they are not saying that these people already enjoy a 25% eco-reduction discount. It is not clear whether the eco-reductions will remain over an above the new reductions or whether they will just enjoy a 10% reduction."

Busuttil added that in his speech, he explained what the PN stands for. Explaining that the PN wanted "a society which offers opportunities to all, a society which cares for the weak and safeguards the common good,"he said the budget failed to fulfil these criteria,

Busuttil highlighted the budget's failure to address the disabled, poverty and families earning less than €20,000 a year who fared worst in the budget because they will not enjoy a tax cut and are facing growing inflation burdens.

Turning to the government's standards, Busuttil said that the government should have reprimanded the police commissioner for describing  the Magistrates Court as the lowest of the lowest courts, showing complete disrespect to the country's institutions.

Asked whether he felt the opposition was incoherent in its criticism, given that the Labour Party also resorted to criticising the natural increase in taxation when it was in opposition, Busuttil said "the government is incoherent because they spoke one way when in opposition and in another when in government. The onus is on government and not the opposition to be coherent."

He added that the budget's substantial increase in taxation contradicted Labour's electoral pledge not to increase the tax burden.

Quizzed whether the PN would have increased any taxes had it been re-elected, the opposition leader said, "PN governments did not increase taxes, but it became synonymous with removing taxes and very few taxes increased marginally. Once again the onus is on government to decide which taxes should have increased or decreased."