Updated | Busuttil: Budget must ensure a just redistribution of income

Opposition leader says Joseph Muscat must curb wasteful public spending and direct wealth to pensioners, parents, and people living in poverty

Simon Busuttil
Simon Busuttil

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Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has said that taxpayers tomorrow must expect to be shown they can have a better quality of life under Monday’s budgetary measures, and that it will be the Opposition’s job is to see that the government delivers on its promises.

In an interview on PN channel Net TV, Busuttil expressed caution about buying into the positive figures of the Maltese economy.

“There are certain worrying signs, some warning lights: a drop in exports for example, a drop in production output from factories, a drop in retail volume, an increase in national debt that has been unprecedented in its growth since EU accession in 2004,” the PN leader said.

“While the economy is growing, it has these difficulties. And we expect a just redistribution of the wealth of this economy.”

Busuttil acknowledged that Malta had one of Europe’s lowest unemployment rates, but insisted that the government had increased public sector employment by 4,400 since taking office – a reference to the replacement of over 2,000 retiring government employees and the addition of over 2,000 new jobs in the public sector workforce.

“While unemployment is low, the growth in jobs should not be an artificial one. Any government can employ workers, but it should be the private sector that generates jobs. The question is: who will pay for these new jobs? Our taxes.”

Busuttil also said it was hypocritical for Joseph Muscat to preside over a COLA increase of 58c when in Opposition, the Labour leader had protested in the streets against the low cost of living adjustment granted under Nationalist administrations.

“We’re not saying that the COLA mechanism should change, but government’s job is to see that many of the people whose lives will not be improved by this 58c weekly increase – people living in poverty, pensioners – must be compensated. The wealth Muscat says is being created, should be redistributed, and not pay off others to the tune of €13,000 monthly,” Busuttil said, referring to energy minister Konrad Mizzi’s wife Sai’s salary as Malta Enterprise envoy.

“You cannot reduce energy bills this year and take back those savings back. Today diesel and petrol is higher than it was in 2010 when the international price of oil is the same. This is what people expect answers to.”

Busuttil also questioned how Labour will finance its new energy cuts for businesses in 2015 when the LNG plant at Delimara should have been completed by the beginning of the year.

“This new plant was Labour’s biggest electoral promise and Muscat said he’d resign if it is not ready within the next four months. It was a lie,” Busuttil said, saying that he expected ‘honesty and truth’ in Monday’s Budget speech.

“We want a Budget that shows the government is capable of creating wealth. In 20 months, the government has not yet shown this: in what new sectors will our children have jobs? What has Muscat done to create new economic sector?

“And we want a just redistribution of wealth that goes to pensioners, parents, and to people living in poverty, which have increased under Labour. Instead we have seen wasted public spending in areas that have nothing to do with those who need it.”

In a statement, the PL took umbrage at Busuttil’s “negativity,” saying the Opposition leader is not aware of the “optimism” that the government has created.

“The country is seeing this government implement the measures which others failed to do. This government has fulfilled its promises and will continue doing so,” it said.

On the contrary, the Labour Party said, Busuttil did not keep his word, as he had stated that he would not put an end to the traditional Sunday political sermons.

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