Malta’s positive economic performance, ‘moment of national pride’ – Labour

Family Minister says 95% of Labour’s electoral pledges in the social sector have been delivered

Ministers Chris Cardona and Michael Farrugia
Ministers Chris Cardona and Michael Farrugia

The Labour Party has described Malta’s success in achieving its first balanced budget in 35 years as “a moment of national pride”.

Addressing a press conference at the Labour Party’s headquarters, Economy Minister Chris Cardona reiterated that the positive economic results were achieved because of decision taken by the government.

“This is the most competent government and socially just. For the first time we have had a budget surplus of nearly €9 million,” Cardona said, in a press conference called jointly with Family Minister Michael Farrugia.

Whilst address European youth at the PN’s headquarters, leader Simon Busuttil yesterday called the budget surplus “a gimmick”.

According to Cardona, it was a “big mistake” to say that the surplus was due to a reduction in capital outlay, when this outlay brings in higher EU funding.

He called on Busuttil to explain how, in 2012, capital expenditure had been slightly higher than 2016 yet the PN ended up with the “largest deficit in our history.”

“Busuttil has no idea or knowledge about the finances of the country, whereas this government is competent financially and socially,” Cardona said.

The Labour Party reiterated that upon being elected to power in 2013, the government took over a country facing an excessive deficit procedure whilst the Nationalist Party repeatedly doubted the government’s economic targets.

“The European Union is today looking at Malta as a model for other countries to follow,” Cardona added.

He said that the government had increased money in people's pockets and this turns the economic wheel, along with “the unprecedented investment” in health and education, through foreign direct investment or other means.

There is also less unemployment, Cardona added.

“Paradoxically demand exceeds supply in the labour market, which is important to attract investment.”

Farrugia boasted that his ministry had kept its electoral promises, with the implementation of 95% of the electoral program in the social sector.

“In the coming years we will continue to help people to get back on their feet and contribute to society,” he said, adding that talks on raising the minimum wage were also making progress.

“We have tried to encourage families to take advantage of opportunities, to increase work without increasing taxes, resulting in more money in people's pockets.

“I remind you that we have the lowest unemployment and the number of persons dependent on social benefits has decreased by 6%.”

The minister said that in 2016 €2.2million were spent on in-work benefits to help those in employment to improve their lot.

“This despite the continuous reduction in deficit and costs of water and electricity and free childcare,” which he said had led to an increase in women in the workplace.