[WATCH] Adrian Delia slams government’s tax refund cheque as ‘populist gimmick’

The Nationalist Party leader suggested that the government needed to revise the country’s tax system, arguing that sending out small cheques was an insult to workers

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia said the income tax refund cheques being sent out by the government were an insult to Maltese workers
Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia said the income tax refund cheques being sent out by the government were an insult to Maltese workers

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has described the government sending out cheques with an income tax refund to workers are a pre-election gimmick and an insult to the country’s workers, who saw the lowest wage increases in Europe.  

“It’s an insult because after workers pay so much in tax, the government is taking a very small amount and sending it back, instead of doing what a serious government would do and reviewing our tax system,” Delia said.

He suggested that rather than employ such a ‘populist’ gimmick, the government should look into changing the present system and “incentivize people properly”. 

Delia was speaking during an interview on the party’s Net TV, where he said that the government “coincidentally” always sent out cheques before an election or before some “battle it needed to win”.   

Turning to the economy, the PN leader insisted that the government had failed in ensuring an even distribution of wealth. Responding to a question about the fact that company profits were increasing at a far greater rate than wages, Delia argued that it was important to reward companies and business men who took risks and invested their money and took the initiative to create something.

He said such companies needed to be incentivized and helped when necessary. Today this was happening, he said, adding that the PN needed to acknowledge what the government was doing right.

However, he said that despite the government repeatedly boasting about registering a fiscal surplus, this was not being felt by the people on the street.

It was true that the country’s GDP was growing, Delia said, but this was mainly due to the fact that the government was growing the country’s population, resulting in increased overall spending but also a reduction in people’s purchasing power. 

“Your slice in that cake is not increasing proportionally or at all,” he said, insisting that government had failed at finding effective methods of wealth distribution.

Government had also failed at developing new sectors for the country, with the country’s present economic success being down to the action of business operating in sectors set up by the PN, he continued.

Referring to statements by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna this week, that Malta would likely register economic growth of 5.7%, rather than 6% next year, Delia said that the government had now been forced to admit that the PN was right. 

“All I have been saying in the last 18 months the government is now saying,” Delia said, accusing the government of intentionally overheating the economy for there to be a “semblance of wealth creation”.

In reality, he said the current model was not sustainable, as it was not good enough to think about the present at the expense of the future.

He said it was time for the government to start “taking the economy seriously” and to embrace accepted economic principles and implement them, rather than simply trying to win votes.

Delia also said that nobody could take the government seriously when it spoke about the environment, given what he described as the greatest ever assault on the environment since the Labour government came to power.

Government, he said, was being disingenuous when it claimed to want to protect the environment and was simply trying to attract the votes of “a few environmentalists”.

He pointed to Malta’s record on air pollution, and the removal of trees to make was for infrastructural project as evidence of the government’s lack of commitment towards the environment.

Rather than allowing the number of cars on the road to continue increasing by some 12,000 every year, Delia said a PN government would work to shift the country onto non-polluting vehicles. Similarly, on energy, he said the PN wanted Malta to be the country of clean energy, with the environment at the centre of a circular economy.