Sustainable Growth and Dignity For all
The Nationalist Party has published its reaction to the Pre-Budget Document. The document, entitled “Sustainable Growth and Dignity for all” is split into two sections. The first section of the document contains an analysis of the most important economic and fiscal indicators. The second part of the document focuses on twelve themes, namely: Energy; Tourism; The Green Economy; SMEs and Self-employed; Financial Services; The Construction Industry; Diffusing the Pension Time-Bomb; A society that Cares – Supporting the lower income earners and combating poverty; Gozo; Traffic problems; Healthcare; and, Good Governance.
The document comprises the Opposition’s reaction to the pre-budget document, a series of questions to government and a number of proposals covering various sectors of the economy and society. From the economic and fiscal analysis the following key facts emerge:
• 6,000 persons joined the public sector in the past two years;
• there was a €721 million drop in exports in 2013 and 2014 and further drops are expected this year;
• €100 million of government income in 2015 came from one-off events while recurrent expenditure is increasing not least because of the additional spend public sector wages;
• the number of persons at risk of poverty increased in the past two years; and,
• the National Debt increased by €500 million in the past two years.
Commenting during the launch of this document, Mario de Marco, Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs and Shadow Minister for Finance said that “The Opposition has long been calling for a frank and open discussion about the state of the economy and of public finances. Government unfortunately is more keen to focus on those areas of the economy that are performing well and is ignoring areas of concern. The Opposition, as it is duty bound to do, is flagging these issues. We are concerned with the fact that 6,000 people have been put on the public sector payroll in the past two years and yet the level of service of many agencies and government departments is deteriorating. We are concerned that the national debt went up by €500 million in the past two years even though government failed to launch one new major capital project. We are concerned with the rampant lack of good governance that is impacting negatively on the level of trust in public institutions. The Opposition is concerned with the lack of transparency on the part of government. A number of important agreements signed by Government which have far-reaching consequences are being kept hidden from public scrutiny contrary to the promise made by Labour before the election”.
The document also includes a number of proposals. The Opposition is calling for a reduction in the price of energy tariffs and a reduction in the price of petrol and diesel. The Opposition is also making proposals to combat malnutrition and hunger and to break poverty cycles, improve the competitiveness of SMEs and self-employed, strengthen environmental protection, promote good governance and ease traffic problems.
Mario de Marco said that “Never has a Party in Opposition come forward with such a long list of proposals half-way through a legislation. These proposals are being put forward with one sole objective: to help our country develop in a sustainable manner with full respect to the environment and to vulnerable persons in our society. These proposals are based on the Party’s core belief that the economy is there to serve society as a whole and that everyone has the right to live in a dignified manner. We are all for enabling growth: growth that is sustainable and creates benefits for the whole of society. We hope that government gives this document serious consideration. On our part, we are going to launch an intensive consultation process to assess the reaction of the public, constituted bodies and NGOs on the proposals contained in this document”.
Shadow Minister for the Economy Claudio Grech explained that through this document, the Opposition is reaffirming its proactive approach towards fiscal and economic policy and has taken an unprecedented step to contribute towards shaping the budgetary framework for our country. Claudio Grech underlined that the principal purpose for this effort is to draw the government’s attention to the areas that require more focus and the particular challenges that need to be faced by our society and economy over the coming years. Claudio Grech said that for the Nationalist Party, the economy is not just about numbers, but it is all about the conditions and lifestyle of families and businesses. “The economy that we want to create is that for the people, which serves the people” Claudio Grech said.
Opposition Whip David Agius said “This is the first time that such a document has been compiled and presented by the Party in Opposition.” Whilst thanking Mario de Marco for the work put on the Pre-Budget Document, David Agius explained that this is the result of hard work by the Parliamentary Group, after constant consultation with interested parties in the respective fields. He encouraged both the public and the constituted bodies to continue making concrete proposals and to participate in the consultation process being launched today.