Updated | Budget speech shows national debt at 70.14% of GDP in 2011 – government

Opposition MP Tonio Fenech says 2015 Budget ws nothing but a lenghty exercise of deceit • Government refers to 2011 budget speech showing national debt at 70.14% of GDP

Nationalist MP Tonio Fenech, former finance minister
Nationalist MP Tonio Fenech, former finance minister

Describing yesterday’s budget as a four-hour exercise of deceit, opposition MP and former finance minister Tonio Fenech said the 2015 Budget lacks focus and is socially unjust.

“This government has not outlined which economic sectors it intends to strengthen and which new sectors it intends to attract,” Fenech said during a press conference held at the PN headquarters in Pieta.

Noting that manufacturing and exports were at an all time low, Fenech expressed his surprise at the lack of measures to readdress the dwindling sector.

“This was a budget which lacked focus, nothing but an incoherent list of ideas with no concrete measures.”

Moreover, Fenech who as PN finance minister presented six budgets, insisted that the 2015 Budget speech concealed a number of taxes, which will have an adverse affect on the cost of living.

Listing the new or increased taxes, Fenech highlighted the fact that although consumers could have benefitted from a drastic reduction in gas and fuels, government chose to increase taxation.

He added that under the Labour government debt has increased from €5.2 billion in 2013 to €5.8 next year, which for the first time ever will reach 70% of GDP.

But a budget speech referred to by the government confirmed that national debt in 2011 stood at 70.14%, prompting the government to slam the Opposition’s incorrect declarations which were undermining its credibility.

In a statement issued this evening, the government said that Eurostat data confirmed that for 15 months between 2004 and 2005, national debt exceeded 70%. The same, it said, happened during the fourth quarter of 2005.

“Tonio Fenech tried to hide the fact that, during his term as parliamentary secretary for finance, the national debt exceeded 70% for 18 months. This is confirmed by Fenech’s own speech delivered in November 2011,” the government said.

It added that in the following speech in 2012, national debt had increased to 71.55% of GDP while debt for 2013 was forecasted at 70.43%.

The government accused Fenech of trying to alienate the public from the fact that, under his watch, national debt increased from 60.4% to 71.5%.

“What finance minister Edward Scicluna did not say is that international oil prices are at the lowest rate in four years. However, instead of reducing the weight on the consumer, the new government company Enemed - which took over Enemalta’s petroleum division - is making a huge profit. In fact customers could have enjoyed a 22c reduction in petrol but only got a 2c reduction while diesel could have been reduced by 30c instead of the 1c reduction we got.”

Fenech also lambasted government for failing to address the traffic problem, insisting that “instead of introducing concrete measures it only sees the traffic problem as an additional source of revenue.”

“Moreover, there is a question mark on the deficit figures presented by Scicluna, with two undetermined factors which could put the projections in jeopardy,” Fenech said in reference to the unsigned deals with Shangai Electric for the cash injection at Enemalta and Autobuses de Leon who should take over the public transport system in January.