Busuttil tells government to allocate more funds to local councils

Opposition leader criticises government for reducing funds allocated to local councils and calls on them to set a date for the 2015 local council elections. 

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil called on the government to consider a proposal that would see money collected through vehicle registration going to local councils which, he says, are facing serious financial difficulties.

Speaking at a meeting with the Iklin local council, Busuttil said that a proposal made by David Agius, Opposition spokesman for local government, would direct 10% of the €52 million collected every year through vehicle registraation fees to local councils.

Busuttil praised the Iklin local council for its embellishment works, which included roadworks, the installation of benches, planting of flowers and an EU-funded rubble wall construction project.

“The last budget reduced the amount of central funds allocated to local councils,” Busuttil said. “This needs to be addressed. If the government truly believes in local councils, it needs to show this through action and not just through words.”

Through the proposed scheme, a portion of a vehicle owner’s registration fee would be directed to his or her locality.

Busuttil also told the government to set a date for the 2015 local council elections. “While the government has performed a U-turn on the local council elections issue, it has not yet come up with a date for these elections,” Busuttil said. “Candidates have a right to know.”

Citing recent national statistics, Busuttil said that the government’s expansion of the public sector was the reason unemployment was low. The statistics show that full-time employment in June 2014 rose by 3.9% and part-time employment by 7% when compared with June 2013. Full-time employment in the private sector increased by 4,026 people to 119.858 employees while full-time employment in the public sector increased by 2,108 people to 43,939 employees.

“More people are employed within the private sector, but it’s not enough,” Busuttil said.

Busuttil also called into question the government’s decision to offer businesses a tax rebate on donations of over €2000 to the Malta Community Chest Fund. “This is discriminatory and discourages people from donating to other NGOs,” he said. “The scheme should extend to donations made to all NGOs.”

On Chris Cardona’s announcement – that he intends to tie his career to the White Rocks investment programme – Busuttil expressed some skepticism. “We heard Joseph Muscat make a similar promise over the gas power station project. This speaks for itself.”

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