Updated | Deficit target 'right on track', Prime Minister says

Opposition leader proposes setting up of working group to analyse impact of new taxes on some 400 services

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition leader Simon Busuttil both addressed parliament this evening as the House voted over the Budget Implementation Bill
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition leader Simon Busuttil both addressed parliament this evening as the House voted over the Budget Implementation Bill

The government has held meetings with the opposition over the budget, and some proposals put forward by the PN could be taken on board to improve the budget in favour of citizens, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

Addressing parliament, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that the Labour government would meet its deficit target and see Malta removed from the excessive deficit procedure. He said, that the government had honoured its promise to reduce deficit to 2.1% and further reductions were planned for 2015.

Muscat spoke about the incentives to encourage more people to join the workforce, incentives for investment and the implementation of reduced energy tariffs for businesses by the end of this month. He said that the government had managed to transform challenges into opportunities, seeking the help of the private sector to generate economic growth, create wealth and decrease unemployment.

The PM reiterated that every year, the government would provide budgets that incentivised the economy, helping the weak and supporting businesses to continue growing.

Tax increase on hundreds of services ‘to compensate government’s inefficiency’ – Busuttil

To compensate for its inefficiency, the government introduced taxes on some 400 services, making good for “obscene appointments and deals”, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said.

Speaking in parliament during the Budget Implementation Bill, the PN leader lambasted the government for its lack of accountability, transparency and bad governance, citing the Auditor General’s reports on the controversial €4.2 Café Premier bailout and a hedging agreement with Azeri company Socar.

Arguing that the government had introduced new taxes by stealth to compensate for jobs for the boys, Busuttil proposed the setting up of a working group to analyse the impact of new taxes introduced.

“Essential services have been hit by the new wave of taxes, including a €30 increase for passport renewals between April and August, increases in birth, marriage and death certificates while taxing exports such as fish and local produced wine,” he said.

Busuttil called on the government to reduce tariffs on government services available online while suggesting an increase of services for people and businesses available online.

The PN leader hit out at government for offering taxpayers a miserly 58c cost of living increase while “convicted criminal” Cyrus Engerer was enjoying an €85,000 yearly salary for his appointment at the permanent representation to the EU.

Busuttil, announcing the Opposition would be voting against the implementation of Budget 2015, said it was obscene that individuals close to the Prime Minister and Cabinet members were enjoying comfortable positions with the government.

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