Average earners should have their income tax cut by a fifth, a government CEO and financial analyst has proposed ahead of the budget.

Steve Ellul, who is the CEO of Project Green, told Times of Malta a new tax bracket should be introduced for workers who earn between €15,000 and €22,000 – 20 per cent tax instead of the current 25 per cent.

This could be one of several measures to help them keep up with inflation and have more disposable income, he said in an interview.

'A new tax bracket should be introduced for workers who earn between €15,000 and €22,000' - Steve Ellul. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Ellul, a financial analyst by profession, referred to a study published last year showing that the average single person with no children needs nearly €15,000 in annual income to live a decent life.

The average income in Malta hovers around €23,000, he said, and a “significant number of people” earn somewhere between what is estimated to be the decent living income and the average income.

These people especially are feeling the pinch of inflation, he said. Yet they are taxed at 25% – the same rate at which people with double or triple that salary are taxed.

“A new tax bracket could make a big difference to these people,” Ellul said.

“Malta is already doing a lot to mitigate inflation and has consistently increased pensions. It is also one of the only countries that has an additional COLA mechanism along with the regular one, aimed at helping thousands of families who are most in need. That additional mechanism could also be extended to reach more people.”

‘Slash taxes on green interests’

Switching to the subject of the broader economy, he said that if the country really wanted to renew its economy, it must incentivise people to invest their money in green bonds and in businesses that are implementing environment-friendly projects which take the country in a new economic direction.

In return, the government should slash – or completely remove – taxes on their interests.

That would be another way of leaving more money in people’s pockets while at the same time driving the entrepreneurial projects that the country needs the most.

“A lot is already being done to move the country in this direction, but we can do more to accelerate the process,” he said, adding that Malta, like other EU countries must become carbon-neutral by 2050.

“We must see that the economy continues to grow but also that as it grows, so does people’s quality of life.”

Ellul, however, would not say whether he – as a government official – has pushed the finance minister or anyone in government to take up his proposals.

He would only say there is an open consultation ahead of the budget and that he has no doubt there is a lot of beneficial work going on behind the scenes. He was only making these suggestions as a citizen who wanted the best for his country, like any good citizen would.

A new tax bracket could make a big difference to these people

Asked whether his proposals meant he would eventually contest the election as a political candidate, he said he was leaving his options open but insisted he was focused on his work at Project Green for the time being.

E-scooters controversy

He also refused to take a clear stance on Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia’s decision to ban e-scooter rentals as of next year, although he suggested the government had made the right move.

There were too many e-scooter fines left unpaid, too many accidents and too many irresponsible drivers who simply left their rental e-scooter carelessly here and there, he said.

He admitted the introduction of e-scooters “might” not have been as careful as it should have been, but people were getting annoyed and the situation was simply unfair on Maltese residents and law-abiding citizens.

“It happened to me as it did to many other residents. I was walking in Sliema with my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter in a pushchair and I had to get off the pavement and walk on the street because an e-scooter was obstructing the pavement,” he said.

“The most important thing is public safety and not everyone is driving them safely.”

As CEO of Project Green, however, Ellul has been designing and planning greening projects with lanes and routes specifically designated for alternative means of mobility, including for e-scooters.

But he believes those lanes will still be useful for people who own their own e-scooter and drive it responsibly.

‘Incentives for green buildings’

Ellul insisted the country could do more to encourage developers to build greener buildings and people to purchase them.

One way of doing that is to extend schemes and grants that are currently being given to people who buy properties in urban conservation areas (UCA) to those buying green, energy-efficient buildings.

There is no point in stopping construction, he said, but we must drive it to renew itself and become greener and cleaner. The solution is to build better-quality buildings.

In doing so, the economy must foster highly trained workers to address the lack of skills that it is suffering from right now, he said.

Doing that would be better for the economy and for employers, and would make sure workers get higher salaries as well.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us