Former finance minister brands €70 million handouts a vote-buying tactic

Tonio Fenech says the scheme is irresponsible while dubbing Malta a ‘failed democracy’

Former Finance Minister Tonio Fenech branded a newly-announced €70 million handout scheme as a vote-buying exercise

“This is no tax refund. Many recipients have not even paid tax, let alone deserve a refund,” he said of the new scheme.

Announced on Thursday, workers and students living in Malta will be receiving a €100 cheque in the coming weeks or months. Pensioners and people on social benefits will receive a €200 cheque instead.

Tonio Fenech said the scheme was the Labour Party’s way of buying votes, all while the government deficit balloons to €1.5 billion.

“This is irresponsibility and Malta is fast becoming a failed democracy. If government has €70 million to spend he should make an effective measure to address families burdened by the costs of living and not shower everyone with a token so-called refund.”

The Labour Party quickly rebutted Fenech’s comments in a statement to the media.

“Tonio Fenech, the Minister for Finance who raised utility bills to record levels, came out to criticise government for handing incentives to families. Bernard Grech is anchored to the past.”

The scheme was announced on Thursday morning by Prime Minister Robert Abela and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana. Government will spend €70 million on cheques that will be handed out to €100 and €200.

These cheques go over and above the annual tax refund scheme, which Abela said will also be extended next year, with refunds amounting between €60 and €140.

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