Editorial: A budget to give direction

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 October, 2022 at 10:26 am by Andre Camilleri

On Monday, the government will be presenting its budget for 2023.

Since governments started to present pre-budget documents, and with the social partners submitting their own proposals, the day of the budget itself has lost much of the sensation it used to have in the past.

Still, a good part of Malta will be tuning in on television, websites and the social media on Monday to see what Finance Minister Clyde Caruana will be saying.

The budget affects each and every one of us. Last Monday, Caruana said that 77 per cent of what the government proposed for the 2022 budget had been implemented, higher than the 73% average.

It is probable that at least some of the measures that were not implemented this year will again be part of the list that will be compiled on Monday, along with other new ones.

We know, for example, that a second Cost of Living Adjustment will be introduced for the more vulnerable sectors of our society. Caruana would not give more details about this, saying that everything will be made clear in Monday’s speech. We also know that the COLA everyone will be getting is closer to €10 per week, which will be the highest ever.

But, aside from these considerations, we expect the minister to tell us in which direction the government intends to take Malta.

Let us remember that this will be the first budget of this administration, following the election that was held last March. So we do expect Caruana to give a strong indication of the direction the government wants to take.

We are living in a complicated time. Covid-19 has not been eradicated, but it seems that the worst is over. Malta is still recovering from the pandemic; the fact that, for example, tourism numbers have not reached the same levels as 2019 shows that we still have some way to go.

The war in Ukraine, which shows no signs of ending, is also putting stress on the country. It is certainly having an impact on inflation, although the government is contributing to keeping it as low as possible by continuing to subsidise the energy sector. Caruana has already said that the government is putting aside more than €600 million in 2023 to keep the price of electricity and fuel at the current levels.

The government has already said that it intends to cut its costs, and in so doing it must see what the priorities really are. In this respect, in Monday’s speech Caruana must highlight what these priorities are. In this way, he would also be giving a helping hand to the private sector to make its own plans for the near future.

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