Prime Minister Robert Abela refused to confirm whether or not the country was heading for an early election, despite several questions from journalists tonight.
With rumours rife that the government is set to announce an election for the end of November, Abela, who was addressing a post-budget press conference, was asked by journalists from three newsrooms whether he could confirm that the budget presented this evening would be approved during this legislature.
If an election were to be held in November, it would mean that the budget would need to be approved by Parliament in what would be the next legislature.
Abela, however, seemed to have no appetite for settling the issue once and for, saying only that his government was committed to implementing the measures announced this evening.
On the measures announced, Abela hailed what he said was the budget with the largest number of social measures Malta had ever seen.
The budget, he said, was one that reflected the government and the people’s aspirations. “This is a plan that we have formulated together with you, the country’s hard workers.”
He said that while citizens in other countries were experiencing rising costs for electricity and fuel, as well as rising inflation, in Malta these outcomes had been avoided as a result of the government’s handling of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister ran through a list of new measures announced, including an increase in pensions, increase in stipends, tax breaks and more benefits targeted at sectors of the society that are most in need.
He also referred to the housing sector, where the government announced several initiatives aimed at allowing people to be able to afford to buy a property. He also pointed to the fact that the country’s stock of social housing had increased to a point where the waiting list was at its lowest point ever.
“Owning a home in Malta is a reality which is becoming increasingly more achievable for more people in the country,” Abela said.
On education, he said that citizens of other countries were seeing the cost of getting an education increase. “This is exactly how you increase inequality and hinder social mobility. We have decided to do the opposite,” he said, adding that the government had announced the largest-ever increase to students’ stipends.
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne described the budget as a “good news budget”. He said the country was today being rewarded for the sacrifices made over the past two years.
The pandemic, he said, could now be put on the “back burner” in order for the country to start planning for the future.
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