‘Maltese getting cheques in the mail, while Europeans paying higher tax and fuel’ – PM

Prime Minister Robert Abela tells Labour rally Malta punches above its weight as Europeans face higher fuel costs and austerity cuts

Robert Abela addressed a Labour rally in Naxxar
Robert Abela addressed a Labour rally in Naxxar

Prime Minister Robert Abela lauded his administration’s expansionary Budget for 2024, saying the Maltese were receiving more payments and tax refunds from the government while Europeans were facing higher taxes and costlier fuels.

Abela earned rapturous applause at listing ex gratia payments and tax refunds from the Labour administration, in a speech comparing Malta to the vicissitudes faced by other European economies.

Abela praised his government’s Budget and economic strategy, saying growth projections for Malta far outstripped the European average. Malta is expected to experience a 4% economic growth in 2024, four times as much as the EU average.

He addressed a Labour rally in Naxxar in a speech that lauded Malta’s staying power in the world of remote gaming, accentuated this week by the Sigma conference which attracted over 20,000 visitors and exhibitors.

The conference, despite being the source of nationwide traffic slowdowns and jams on the Marsa thoroughfares, was praised by Abela as a sign of the island’s rebound since its FATF greylisting.

“The Opposition claimed we would lose our financial services and gaming companies when we were greylisted... we emerged from that greylist, and here we are now, attracting the industry over to the island,” Abela said to applause at the Naxxar PL club.

Abela listed a litany of economic downturns across the world, saying higher energy prices and contractions in economic powerhouses contrasted with the way Malta was managing its public finances.

“We are living in difficult times for the global economy: a negative outlook for the US economy from Moody’s, protests against Italian austerity measures where public finances are under pressure, and higher gas prices in the Netherlands and Austria, as well a 38% increase in fuel taxes in Austria,” Abela said.

Malta’s own economic projections, as stated by the European Commission, were on an upward trajectory, Abela continued, contrary to the EU average. “These are the results of serious and credible economic management,” Abela said.

Teachers’ salaries

Abela said a governmental proposal to raise teaching salaries was robust enough for agreement from educators and unions without the need to resort to industrial action.

He defended the government’s insistence on confidentiality over what both sides are demanding, saying speculation over wage demands could interfere with the process of social dialogue.

“The PN, in throwing about so many figures about, are only showing they care about only whatever political capital they can get their hands on,” Abela said.

He said that Labour administrations had successfully concluded numerous collective agreements with many unions and industry sectors, and said his government would not show teachers’ any less solidarity. “We know the crucial role of educators, but we need a judicious approach to any collective agreement if we are to improve people’s quality of life,” Abela said.