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From Social Justice To Ignoring Greylisting: Here’s What Malta’s MEPs Had To Say About Budget For 2022

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Following the presentation of Malta’s Budget for 2022, many individuals across the whole country were reacting to the measures which were brought forward.

The 2022 Budget brought many new solutions and initiatives, such as free public transport for all Maltese citizens, afforestation projects, a cost of living raise of €1.75 per week, a 10% increase for student stipends, and a new selection of free medicines among many others.

Lovin Malta asked Malta’s MEPs for their reactions to the 2022 Budget, to see whether they were happy with what was presented, and what else should have been mentioned. PN MEP Roberta Metsola did not respond to questions sent by the time of publication.

David Casa (PN)

Nationalist Party MEP David Casa started off by expressing that he was pleased to see some proposals that the PN has been making for quite some time, such as the inclusion of important medicines provided by the government.

“There was unfortunately surprising little to address the elephant in the room: our greylisting as a financial centre. This is not only having an impact on the economy, and discouraging investment in Malta, but is causing difficulty to Maltese companies in their day-to-day business and banking activities,” he continued.

He also discussed some ideas that he would have loved to see proposed, such as “more detail in the budget on the government’s plans on the Work-Life Balance Directive, which I negotiated on behalf of the European Parliament”.

“This has now become EU law and will have to be introduced in all member states, including Malta, by not later than August next year. It will introduce an absolute minimum of 10 days of paid paternity leave,” he said.

“Two of the four months of parental leave currently available to both parents until the child reaches the age of eight will now have to be paid, and there will also be the introduction of five days of annual carers’ leave to care for sick relatives,” he continued.

He noted that he was hoping to see similar commitments made by the Labour government.

“Unfortunately, there was very little detail on the government’s plans on these important measures that have been coming for the last couple of years,” he concluded.

Alfred Sant (PL)

Labour Party MEP Alfred Sant thought that the Budget successfully addressed the twin challenges of recovery from the effects of the pandemic and tackling social inequalities, in an intelligent and realistic way.

“The priorities were well set given the constraints that the Maltese economy, along with that of the rest of Europe, is subject to,” he said.

He expressed how he was satisfied with what was brought forward, and that “while much of the thrust was social in scope, throughout there was also the realization that in the coming two to three years, there will be a paramount need to get economic growth on the tracks”.

However, he noted how he would have liked to see more done for the environment.

“Although the environmental commitment was substantial, I would have preferred more of it on the basis of a more coherent green strategy for the long term,” Sant said.

Alex Agius Saliba (PL)

Labour Party MEP Alex Agius Saliba reacted very positively to the 2022 Budget, saying that he was “very pleased with the budget that was put forward this year since it is a budget that addresses the needs of the present but also prepares the foundations required for the future”.

He described the Budget as “the most social and environmentally conscious budget every presented, while once again no tax was increased”.

“When one considers the various measures presented in this year’s budget, it is very difficult to not be satisfied as each sector was provided with the help and the extra momentum it needed,” he said.

“I must mention the measures put forward in the disability sector including an increase in allowances for children with a physical or mental disability which will rise by €5 a week and increased investment in autism units, braille machines and occupational therapy in schools,” he said.

He also mentioned other important measures which were presented, such as the free transport, increase in stipend and the part-time tax being reduced from 15% to 10%.

“When things are promised for the future, the people need to have confidence in the Government that it will implement those things as promised, and with the Robert Abela administration currently at the helm, the citizens have the confidence that these measures will be carried out to their benefit,” he said.

Cyrus Engerer (PL)

For Labour Party MEP Cyrus Engerer, the budget was putting an emphasis on social justice while also kicking off efforts towards climate neutrality.

Engerer said that he was overall “very satisfied with the budget measures announced, and also very positive of the fresh way that Finance Minister Clyde Caruana is conducting in his work”.

He continued by discussing the two measures that he feels can have a very big difference.

“Firstly, the allowance being given to Heads of Schools to help vulnerable children on their daily needs. Teachers are the closest non-family members to children and they know first hand the realities children would be coming from. This measure must translate into vulnerable children being given the dignity they deserve and empowerment to succeed,” he said.

“Secondly, I’m ecstatic that we will be the second country to provide free public transport to all. Apart from the positive social element that this holds, it will get the ball rolling for carbon neutrality by 2050, reducing emissions according to the targets we have in front of us by 2030, according to the Fit for 55 package,” he continued.

He also said how he looks forward to a redirection in the mentality when it comes to transport in Malta.

“I look forward to a change in mentality when it comes to transport which would lead to our streets becoming public spaces once again to the enjoyment of people rather than cars. In this sense, I also look forward to the studies in the pedestrianisation of Triq Sant Anna in Floriana and the metro project,” he said.

He concluded by saying that he would have liked to see the free public transport measure extended to marine transport too.

Josianne Cutajar (PL)

Labour Party MEP Josianne Cutajar was full of praise for the budget, describing it “as a positive and strong social budget, with important and well-needed green initiatives”.

“The 2022 Budget contains a collection of Keynesian measures that will continue stimulating economic growth, while at the same time taking care of those most in need,” she said.

“I notably mention the free public transport for all as from next year, the increase in grants for electric cars, the reduction on tax for those who work part-time, increased assistance when it comes to persons with disabilities and increase in pensions, as well as the well needed extended child care services, just to name a few,” she said.

“We need to continue recovering whilst keeping in mind the social aspect along with the twin transition, such as the digital and environmental transition and I thus welcome measures in this respect,” she said.

She noted however that Malta needs to scale up on research and innovation, as “Malta and Gozo have the potential to act as testbeds for innovative projects that could then be implemented elsewhere”.

This article forms part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. These articles reflect only the authors’ views. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information these articles contain.

What did you think about the 2022 Budget measures? 

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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