The Budget presented by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna on Monday, 22 October is a recycling of existing proposals and consists of short-term plans and measures rather than plans for the long-term.

It is no wonder that in his first reaction to the Budget, Josef Vella, Chief Executive of UĦM Voice of the Workers said that “this is a budget that addresses pockets within society but is lacking a long term economic vision.”

The government is trying to please some sectors of the population, such as pensioners and families with young children. It is true that the Budget for next year comprises a number of positive measures, such as an increase of €4.50 including COLA per week for pensioners; an additional day of leave; the removal of SEC and MATSEC exam fees and the provision of free cancer medication by Government.

Having said this, the UĦM Voice of the Workers is disappointed that a number of its proposals have not been taken up. One can mention the mechanism for the protection of workers’ salaries. The Budget also failed to make any reference, in the case of foreign workers, to the situation where foreign workers are eroding collective negotiation. This portal calls for better quality work with better pay for workers and their families.

Voice of the Workers does not agree with Home Equity Release because this means that the Maltese pensioner must sell his property to finance his pension. This scheme will affect future generations as they will lose out on their parents’ assets. Such a scheme weakens the inheritance that passes on from one generation to the other. This is a clear example of the Government’s lack of long-term vision.

With reference to the Equity Sharing Scheme. Government will be launching a scheme for persons over 40 who wish to purchase a property. As long as the buyer can pay for not less than half the property, it will be possible for the bank to lend the remainder which the buyer will pay over a number of years while the Government pays the interest due in that period.  Voice of the Workers considers this to be a good scheme in principle but one which, at the moment, is still lacking in detail and it is still unclear how it is going to work.

What about the surplus? I am not going to beat about the bush. It is a positive fact that the surplus has reached almost €400 million. In reality, however, how much has it petered down to the people and is it being spread in a just way particularly among those who cannot make ends meet? Given the booming economy we would expect that the Government would address the issue of those people who cannot make the rent or those who are living on the edge of poverty.

This is a budget without a long-term economic vision as it addresses solely the short-term and has not studied and does not plan for the long-term.