Finance Minister Clyde Caruana presented the government's budget for 2022 to the nation on Monday evening. 

Among the Budget 2022 key points

  • Free public transport for all as of October 2022
  • Up to €54,000 in VAT refunds for works to restore old houses
  • Increases in pensions
  • 10% increase in student stipends
  • A €20m afforestation project in Inwadar 
  • Reduced income tax rate for part-timers

Watch Caruana's budget speech in the video below. 

Refresh the page for the latest updates.


As it happened


Live blog ends 

10.51pm That’s all from us – we’ll be wrapping this live blog up here.

Joined us late? Here’s a directory to our key Budget 2022 wrap-ups.


'EXPERT VIEW: 'The right budget for the right time' 

10.44pm Seed Consultancy partner JP Fabri thinks this was a positive budget.

“The current economic environment required courage, ambition and vision. Tonight’s budget delivers on all three,” he says. “All in all, this is the right budget for the right time.” 

We’re still operating in a fragile economic reality, and that meant the government had to walk a tightrope, he says. 

Fabri is also positive about 2022 budget’s environmental incentives. 

“We’ve seen a number of schemes and incentives to really facilitate the transition to a green economy. Now the focus needs to be on implementation and the sustainability of Malta’s public finances,” he says. 

See JP Fabri's comment in full in the video below: 

The expert view of Budget 2022. Video: Karl Andrew Micallef


Other reactions

10.38pm That's all from Abela, Fearne and Caruana. Let's take a look at what some other budget stakeholders are saying: 

The Malta Employers Association is pleased to see several social benefits in what it describes as an “ambitious” budget, but less impressed by the lack of measures for long-term economic sustainability. 

Although the government has acknowledged criticism about environmental issues, there is still no tangible commitment to steer the economy away from excessive construction, it says. 

UĦM: UĦM Voice of the Workers acknowledges the budget’s social measures but says very little was said about the government’s long-term economic vision and even less on how to repair the reputation of Malta following FATF greylisting.

It’s happy to see the free bus service pledge for all and an increase in in-work benefits – something it says it called for back in 2017. 

It’s a bit less enthused by the lack of focus on attracting new economic sectors to Malta and says it’s a bit worried by the budget’s focus on consumption and investment by the government itself. And a COLA increase of €1.75 a week just won’t cut it when faced with sharp rises in prices, it warns. 

The Malta Chamber of Commerce is relieved to see no specific burdens placed on the private sector. But it’s not too keen on the lack of measures to target the recovery of badly-hit sectors, such as tourism.  

There’s also a bit of scepticism about public finance projections: a 5.6% deficit next year seems “overly optimistic”, the Chamber says, and reducing national debt below 60% of GDP by 2023 will be “particularly challenging”.


A vote for the budget

10.35pm A third question about a potential election, and a third metaphorical shrug by the prime minister.

His focus is on implementing the budget, he insists.


Caruana's public finance confidence

10.31pm Clyde Caruana: the “most important thing” is the government’s forecast of the deficit being halved next year, as it is a sign that the budget is built on a sound financial footing.

Even if gas and oil prices continue spiking, Malta’s public finances can weather the 1.4% impact on economic growth, he says. 


What about greylisting? 

10.25pm Abela is asked about the lack of focus on Malta’s greylisting. His reply is that changes that need to be done, are already being done and the government did not wait for the budget to announce them. 

He also heaps scorn on Bernard Grech’s repeated claim that he would get Malta off the greylist in 90 days, saying it’s the “worst approach possible” to addressing this problem. 


ARMS changes 

10.22pm Abela touches on plans to reform ARMS billing.

The current system is underpinned by a legal notice that will need to be changed, he says. And the government did not rush this because if done badly, it could negatively impact some people, he adds. 


Election? Nobody's asking 

10.19pm Abela dodges a question about whether an election will be called for November. It’s not on everyone's lips, he tells a journalist who asked. 


How to afford this budget? 

10.17pm Clyde Caruana chooses not to give us a speech, and we move straight onto reporters’ questions.

The first is about just how Malta can afford the measures, and Abela keeps his answer short: “by having a dynamic, growing economy, by having careful spending, and by collecting the taxes owed.”


Budget 2022 at a glance

10.12pm Missed this year's budget speech, or don't have the time or inclination to watch it all or read this live blog? 

We've got you covered: here's budget 2022 at a glance. 


Chris Fearne: a 'good news budget'

10.04pm It's deputy prime minister Chris Fearne's turn at the lectern. The health minister says the measures announced today are possible thanks to Malta's good handling of the pandemic.

It's a "good news budget", he says. 


What does the ADPD think? 

10.01pm The Green party is unimpressed: it’s a budget “full of contradictions”, the ADPD says. 

It’s happy that the government is investing in afforestation, but finds it ironic that it’s doing so in a town (Marsascala) where it’s planning a yacht marina. And investing in industrial areas is good, it says, but space in Ħal Far should then not be taken up with a racing track. 

The party also noted that the budget does not directly address the problem of Malta’s minimum wage. Clyde Caruana promised “discussions” about raising it, but Caritas studies have indicated that workers need more than talk – the minimum wage needs to be substantially increased to be a decent one.


Largesse vs austerity 

9.58pm The government has focused its efforts on expansionary budgets and boosting spending. Abela contrasts that approach to the “austerity” approach adopted by the PN during the global financial crisis of 2008, which was more focused on cutting expenditure. 

That’s arguably a bit of an unfair comparison – we’re now in the age of money printing, unlike then.


 Taxes 'must be collected'

9.54pm Abela now turns to worker and business owners, telling them the government now needs them to do their part. 

“Taxes owed must be collected,” he says. 


A budget re-run

9.50pm Abela is running through many of the measures announced in the budget, using examples of people in specific life circumstances to highlight how their income will increase. 

He then argues that Malta can afford the various measures announced, despite the pandemic, by driving economic growth forward. 


'Most social budget in history'

9.44pm Abela describes it as the budget “with the most social measures in Malta’s history”. 

That’s a line of argument he used last year, and he acknowledges that. But, he adds, “it’s true”.


Prime Minister Robert Abela holds press conference

9.35pm Meanwhile, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana are holding a press conference of their own. It’s just starting – watch it in the video below.


'This is not a credible budget'

9.34pm Grech notes that one-third of last year’s budget measures have not been implemented and returns to the elephant in the budget room: no mention of the metro project announced just two weeks ago. 


Back to PN

9.30pm Back to the PN: Bernard Grech tells journalists that the government has promised a new/revised COLA but has done nothing tangible about it. He avoids saying what, specifically, the PN makes of that proposal, and he also dodges a question about the PN's weak polling numbers.

Grech is somewhat more loquacious when asked about rising energy prices on the continent, saying the government is being shown up as managing 'by crisis'. 


Bernard Grech speaks to journalists following the budget 2022 speech. Photo: PNBernard Grech speaks to journalists following the budget 2022 speech. Photo: PN


GWU delighted with budget

9.26pm Meanwhile, the country’s largest union, the General Workers Union, is pleased with this budget. It’s “socially bold and courageous,” the GWU says, and will incentivise work while prioritising the environment. 

It says that the government included more than 18 of its proposals in its budget speech. Little wonder it’s so chuffed. 


What about the metro? 

9.14pm Bernard Grech notes how all the pomp and promises about a metro were conspicuously absent from the budget speech. 

“Not a single euro was budgeted for studies about it,” he says. 

And the government’s promises were not backed by concrete detail elsewhere, too, he says: a promise to reform ARMS billing was kept vague, the PN leader says. 


'Labour is telling you to get another job'

9.21pm Grech derides the €1.75 weekly COLA increase and compares it to the millions spend on privatising three state hospitals. 

“To make ends meet, Labour is telling you to get another job,” he says.


Grech's criticism

9.18pm Grech highlights some sectors who he says have been forgotten by the budget: teachers, nurses, LSEs, farmers and the police. 

He acknowledges some positive measures, but says these were proposals first made by the PN. The PN leader is similarly unimpressed by other government promises. 

"You duped us with blockchain, now even you're calling it a buzzword," he says. 


Bernard Grech press conference

9.15pm PN leader Bernard Grech is giving his reaction to the 2022 budget.

Watch him in the video below.


PN's Chris Said: what about Gozo? 

9.10pm Another reaction from the PN side, and this time it's from Gozitan MP Chris Said.

He homes in on the budget's lack of focus on Gozo, saying not a single new project for the island was announced. Said is also unimpressed by plans to complete works on the Ħondoq reserve osmosis plant - should have happened two years ago, he says. 

The night is young

9.05pm Clyde Caruana sat down to triumphant cheers, but his night is not over yet. Both the government and Opposition are due to have press conferences this evening. So don't go anywhere yet.


  

First stakeholder reactions 

9.01pm While the PN gathers its thoughts and prepares its reaction, some key unions and stakeholders already know what they think. 

The Chamber of SMEs is positive about business and green measures, but says it would have liked to see more about counteracting the impact of FATF greylisting. 

The Malta Union of Teachers is not happy with the way teachers not a key focus in this year’s budget and says there appears to be no plan to make up for a shortage of teachers.


A first PN reaction

8.57pm The first PN reaction we've spotted comes from party deputy leader David Agius, who says the budget is a short-term one. 

"A budget just for today," he tweets.


Banging away

8.55pm After pretty much exactly two-and-a-half hours, Clyde Caruana wraps up his budget speech with a few lines of political rhetoric that go down a treat with his colleagues on the government benches.


 Deficit optimism, but....

8.54pm We’re into the budget's home stretch now.  Caruana’s speech is now focusing on the ‘Malta of tomorrow’. 

The national deficit will hit 11.1% this year, with national debt rising to 61.3% of GDP. Caruana is optimistic that things will look sunnier in the coming years, though.

By 2024, he says the deficit will decline to 2.9%. By that year, the debt-to-GDP ratio will have risen to 62.4%. 

But there’s a caveat to the optimism: Caruana says that soaring energy prices and the looming prospect of rising inflation means that the deficit might end up being of 7% next year (instead of the 5.6% forecast).

Here's Budget 2022 and public finances.


New wing in prison 

8.50pm Work will begin on a new prison wing focused on “rehabilitation” within Corradino Correctional Facility that will host 140 inmates. No detail there, though it may be focused on prisoners with addiction issues. 

Work on a €50 million vessel for the Armed Forces will continue. Not to be outdone, Caruana promises the Civil Protection Department more new vehicles. 

Here's Budget 2022 for prison and police.


Community policing 

8.47pm Community policing has been gradually extended to more and more towns and villages over the past couple of years. That drive will continue, Caruana says. 

The next localities on the list: Żabbar, Xgħajra, Marsascala, San Ġwann, Żebbuġ, Gżira, Msida, Pietà, Mosta, Mġarr, Żurrieq, Safi and Kirkop.

A police sports a bodycam. Expect to see more officers on patrol in a town near you. Photo: Matthew MirabelliA police sports a bodycam. Expect to see more officers on patrol in a town near you. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli


Revamping prosecutions

8.45pm The government wants the attorney general’s office to prosecute more criminal cases, and the police to prosecute fewer of them. Its efforts should instead be on investigating crimes. 

A new service within the AG’s office will help achieve this, Caruana says. 


Cheaper to be an artist 

8.43pm There are tax incentives for artists – most notably a 7.5% tax rate – and funds to help organisers hammered by COVID to recoup costs.

You can read more in our article about Budget 2022 and the Arts.


 

Sports facilities

8.41pm In terms of sports facilities, the government is planning a new football ground in Msida and work on waterpolo pitches in Marsascala, Valletta and Marsaxlokk.

Sport Malta will also be developing a rowing tank to encourage local rowers and there are plans to build an outdoor velodrome in the Ta’ Qali national park.


Monitors for diabetics

8.40pm Continuous blood glucose monitors for diabetes type 1 patients  will be given for free to all such patients aged 17 to 21. That follows a pilot project to that effect.


 

Healthy investment 

8.38pm We’re onto health. 

There are plans to develop a new blood bank, and a facility for stem cell processing and storage. 

Caruana also says the government will be renting “additional space” to provide Mater Dei patients with the acute and elective services they need. No detail. 

And work on a new Mater Dei outpatients block will continue, with other investment in some specific hospital departments. 


Orchards for all 

8.36pm Here’s an interesting one: farmers will be eligible for up to €8,000 if they turn untilled agricultural land into orchards of fruit trees.

More oranges on the horizon? Photo: ShutterstockMore oranges on the horizon? Photo: Shutterstock


 Water, old and new

8.35pm A New Water project to provide recycled sewage water to farmers to irrigate with will be extended, while a reverse osmosis plant being built in Gozo’s Ħondoq will become operational next year, Caruana promises. 


A new ARMS system 

8.32pm Big change at the much-maligned ARMS, Caruana says: the government intends to revamp the way in which the utility billing company charges people for their water and electricity usage. 

You can read all the details in our piece about Budget 2022 and energy. 


Energy 

8.31pm Caruana promises “heavy” investment into Enemalta’s distribution network (remember this summer’s power outage disasters?) and says work on a second interconnector and gas pipeline will continue.


Waste 

8.29pm Caruana details the government’s plans to build a waste-to-energy plant in Magħtab, and also promises smart bins (with surveillance) for commercial establishments to separate their waste 24/7.

He also promises a ‘repair centre’ where people can take damaged goods to be repaired rather than thrown away. 


PV panels on vehicles? 

8.27pm Another odd one: there’s the promise of a €900 grant for trucks, buses and minibuses that are equipped with PV panels.


Clean transport

8.25pm There are increased benefits for low-polluting cars, most notably plug-in hybrids and electric cars. 

For plug-in hybrids, it will rise by €3,000. For electrics, the grant will be of €11,000, rising to €12,000 if you scrap an old car in the process. 

These increases will be valid as of tomorrow. 

Speaking of scrapping – grants for that will rise to €2,000. 

VAT refunds for bicycles and electric bikes will continue, as will existing schemes for scooters, pedelecs and other such forms of transport. 


EXPERT INSIGHT

8.22pm Here's Karl Wismayer from Seed on Budget 2022's sustainability measures: 

"With foreign direct investment significantly contributing to Malta’s strong economic development over the years, the government is driven to help local enterprises that are investing in sustainable projects, become attractive options to foreign investors.

"Whilst the ultimate goal remains to reach carbon neutrality over time, the government intends to aid companies reach their carbon targets in the short-term, by investing in surplus carbon credits derived from green and sustainable projects.

"Renewable energy remains a key cornerstone in Malta’s carbon neutrality plan. To this end, government will continue to incentivise corporations and individuals to invest in renewable energy sources and continue to educate on more efficient use of energy resources."


Free public transport for all 

8.21pm As of October 1 next year, buses will be free to ride for all Tallinja card holders. 

Something along these lines has been hinted at for years, and it’s now happening. Time will tell whether ticket price has been holding people back from catching a bus. 

Caruana says Malta will be the second EU country to make public transport free (the first was Luxembourg, in case you're wondering). 

Here's our take on Budget 2022 and transport.

Photo: Jonathan BorgPhoto: Jonathan Borg


A starter kit for newborns

8.20pm As Caruana lists off environmental measures, he throws in a one-line odd one: parents-to-be are to receive a starter kit with “sustainable products” for their newborn.


Solar panels etc

8.17pm Schemes to encourage the  purchase of solar panels, solar water heaters, heat pumps and other such devices will be extended, Caruana promises. 

There are plans to boost funding to equip public buildings with solar panels, the promise of a fund to encourage the use of batteries to store renewable energy and schemes for NGOs to buy solar panels and other such technology. 


Rubble promises

8.15pm Caruana promises ‘intensified’ efforts to rehabilitate sensitive habitats such as Comino, the Victoria Lines area or Għadira s-Safra wetland.

And there’s another pledge to spend €10 million in EU funding to rebuild 30km of rubble walls across Gozo.


A carbon trading marketplace? 

8.14pm There are also plans to introduce a carbon trading scheme for public entities and private entities of some sort. 


More green proposals 

8.12pm Caruana promises more vertical gardens and the long-promised roofing over of the regional road in Santa Venera to be carried forward. The plan is to look for a public-private partnership there, he says. 

A proposal to pedestrianise St Anne Street in Floriana will continue to be studied, he says. 

There are promises to add parks and green areas to towns and villages and then Caruana rattles off some plans for the Ta’ Qali national park: more than 60 football pitches worth of open space, 60,000 trees planted and 86,000 square metres of ‘landscaping’.


Inwadar afforestation project

8.08pm There’s an afforestation project in the budget. 

Caruana makes reference to an afforestation proposal presented by a number of architects a few weeks back. 

They had proposed planting thousands of trees in the Inwadar national park in the south of Malta. 

Caruana says the government is committed to implementing something like that and turning Inwadar into a park “larger than Buskett”. 

A total of €20 million will be invested in the project over the next five years. 

Here's our take on Budget 2022 and afforestation.


EXPERT INSIGHT 

8.06pm Here's what JP Fabri and Nicky Gouder from Seed have to say about these measures:

"With land being such a scarce resource in Malta, it is fundamental for the government to find ways to incentivise the use of any vacant buildings on the island. This multi-faceted tax relief is a testament of this by incentivising both the buyers and sellers.

Malta’s urban environment plays a key role in its overall aesthetic value and thus merits a well thought out plan to ensure that its value is not only maintained but improved over time.

Government is driven towards improving the island’s urban environment by investing in and pushing the narrative to revitalise Malta’s historical buildings and afforestation efforts."


VAT refunds when restoring old properties

8.05pm This is a big one: anyone carrying out work to restore old or abandoned homes, or any property within a UCA, will as of tomorrow be able to pay no VAT on the first €300,000 in works. That is a €54,000 saving in VAT.

You won't be able to get this benefit if you plan to split your property (into, say,  apartments).

The measure will encourage more people to restore old properties. But it will also have another impact: bringing a lot of spending that is currently in the shadow economy out into the open. (That’s my comment, not Caruana’s). 

Read all about Budget 2022 and property incentives.


First-time buyers in Gozo 

8.04pm Incentives for first time buyers in Gozo are to double to €30,000. 


No tax for old properties

8.02pm An incentive to encourage the reuse of old properties 

There will be no capital gains tax or stamp duty on the sale of properties that are more than 20 years old and abandoned for the past seven or more, in UCAs or built in the ‘traditional style’ 


Licences for builders

8pm Caruana indicates that licencing requirements for building contractors are on the horizon. 

“The sector agrees with licencing,” he says. “I think this is an important step.” 

Licencing will require a firm hand with rule-breakers, he says. 

“I think that in past years there wasn’t enough enforcement in this sector”. 

Fine words, but what will they translate into? 


Development and construction

7.57pm We're onto development and construction here. 


Malta Film Awards

7.56pm Caruana says the government wants to grow its film industry and will be attracting more big-budget productions next year.

2022 will also see the first edition of the Malta Film Awards, he says. 


Tourism - Xewkija heliport and Buġibba plans

7.55pm Onto tourism. 

The Xewkija heliport is to be upgraded, Caruana says. 

A newly-established agency to regenerate tourist zones will do just that and will focus on St Paul’s Bay, Buġibba, Qawra and Xemxija.

An expert commitee will be responsible for deciding what research is needed before Buġibba is regenerated.


Tax incentives for inheriting business

7.51pm Anyone passing on a family business to a relative will only pay 1.5% in stamp duty on the transfer, rather than 5%. 


Start-up visas: 

7.50pm  Caruana says the government wants to attract start-ups to Malta by offering a ‘start-up visa’. Malta Enterprise will work with Community Malta to develop the programme, to attract non-EU entrepreneurs. 

No more detail here, I’m afraid. 


EXPERT INSIGHT 

7.48pm Here's JP Fabri and Nicky Gouder, from Seed, about the government's financial services plan: 

"Malta’s financial services sector needs to be nurtured given its critical role. The ecosystem is unfortunately fragmented and is also facing particular challenges following greylisting.

"The strategy the government will launch is central to the revitalisation of the sector and this needs to be an economic priority.  Access to funding is critical for Maltese businesses.

"The concept of a seed fund is good and needed. However, more needs to be done especially through the Malta Development Bank to ensure that Maltese SMEs have access to the right source of financing and capital, especially start-ups.

The green economy can be a force for good not only for society for the economy. These incentives can play a key role in kick-starting the green transformation of Maltese businesses and in setting up a regional hub. Malta needs to leverage its blue economy much more."


Financial services

7.47pm Caruana tells the financial services sector that the government is committed to protecting it from headwinds and rattles off a series of bureaucratic initiatives that the government is undertaking to improve the sector. 


Infrastructure

7.46pm Caruana now goes over infrastructural investments: the government will be spending €470 million on industrial estates, and roadbuilding will of course continue. There will also be work to ‘regenerate’ the Grand Harbour. 


Fiscal carrots, fiscal sticks 

7.43pm Caruana’s voice goes an octave lower as he announces that, as of June 1 2022, the taxman will start being tougher on people with unpaid VAT or income tax. 

“It will no longer be the norm for interest payments to be waived,” he says. Interest will only be waived in line with the law, and everyone else will have to pay a 7.2% interest rate, he says.

"Everyone has to pay their taxes," the minister tells the House. 

Read about the tax evasion crackdown in Budget 2022. 


Tax incentives for business investment 

7.41pm Companies with unused capital allowances for 2020 or 2021 due to pandemic-induced losses will be eligible for a tax reduction benefit. 

There will also be fiscal incentives to encourage companies to reinvest profits in their own businesses.


Rent subsidies for business

7.38pm Onto business investment measures. 

Caruana says rent subsidy incentives for business are to be extended to ensure more businesses are eligible. But there is little detail given. 


EXPERT INSIGHT

7.37pm Nicky Gouder and JP Fabri, from Seed:

"Stipends are seen as supporting Malta’s students continuing education. However, one would like to see more tangible investment to improve educational outcomes as Malta faces a number of challenges in the area.

"Apprenticeship schemes are critical for industry, and European countries such as Germany and France have managed to develop very strong programmes and schemes. Malta requires a national apprenticeship scheme which will support industry develop and train its future workforce."


10% stipend increase

7.37pm Here’s two big ones for students: 

Stipends are to rise by 10%, and students will now be allowed to work 25 hours a week without forfeiting their stipends. 

Read more about students and budget 2022.

Photo: Jonathan BorgPhoto: Jonathan Borg


Workers and income tax

7.36pm Here's our piece about workers and income tax in budget 2022.


EXPERT INSIGHT

7.35pm Nicky Gouder and JP Fabri, from Seed: 

"The need to reassess the COLA mechanism has been long felt with some social partners calling for a discussion on living wage. The government’s intention to develop a temporary and specific mechanism for low-income workers is welcome."


€1.75 a week COLA

7.34pm This year's Cost-of-Living-Adjustment will be of €1.75 a week. 

Caruana also says that the government will be negotiating with social partners to develop a new mechanism that will help low-income people in tight spots. The cost of this additional help will be borne by the government. 

Read about Budget 2022 and the cost of living.


Free childcare

7.32pm Free childcare services will be extended to people working nights and shifts, Caruana says. 


Bigger cheques

7.30pm Those tax refund cheques that have been arriving in the post every year will continue. And they’ll be a bit beefier, too, Caruana says to banging on tables. 

Cheques will range from €60 to €140. 

Here's an image showing how the refunds will change. 


More and cheaper overtime

7.29pm Two years ago, the government had announced a 15% tax rate on the first 100 hours of overtime.

Now that’s being extended: workers who earn up to €20,000 a year in basic pay will be eligible to the 15% tax rate on the first €10,000 of overtime they work. Caruana says around 30,000 workers will benefit from that. 


In-work benefits

7.28pm There are higher in-work benefits for working parents, with the eligibility band extended significantly.

Couples who earn up to a combined €50,000 a year will be eligible (up from €35,000).

Single parents will be eligible if they earn up to €35,000 a year. And in families with one working parent, income can reach €35,000 a year.


Lower tax for part-time work

7.27pm A big one for part-time workers: they will now be subject to a 10% tax rate (down from 15%). The measure had been promised in the run-up to the 2017 election and will encourage work.  

In five years’ time, income earned by working pensions will not be subject to tax. That’s intended to encourage people to stay in work – Malta’s population is aging and we need all the workers we can get. 

Photo: Matthew MirabelliPhoto: Matthew Mirabelli


EXPERT INSIGHT - DISABILITY

7.25pm: Here's Nicky Gouder and JP Fabri, from Seed: 

"Society’s vulnerable groups are primarily addressed through the increase of various measures and incentives. Families with members with disability will see additional support coming from government in the coming year and this will support them in facing the challenges they face."


Working odd hours 

7.24pm Another unusual one: workers who work ‘atypical’ hours (read: nights and weekends) and earn up to €20,000 a year will get a €150 in-work benefit. 

Caruana specifies that this is aimed at hospitality workers, admin staff, manufacturing and transport jobs. 

You’ll have to have worked for at least six months in the job to be eligible.


One for the parents 

7.23pm We've just published a piece that parents or parents-to-be might be interested in. Here's our piece on parenting in Budget 2022.


A workforce survey 

7.21pm The government will be running a labour market census, to get a better picture of Malta’s workforce.  Caruana says it will be the first of its kind in Europe.

And once it's done, the government will move on to a "digitalisation audit", whatever that is. 

 


Investing in human capital

7.18pm Now we’re onto the next Section of this year’s budget speech: investing in human capital. 

It's a "race against time" in the developing world to prepare workforces for the green and digital economies, the finance minister says. 


Help for affordable housing 

7.14pm Pre-1995 rent housing valued at up to €250,000 that needs structural repairs will now be eligible for subsidies of up to €25,000. 

There are also tax benefits for private property that is rented out as affordable housing – and any such property sold to tenants will not be subject to tax. 


Social welfare measures

7.12pm This part of the budget speech focuses on social measures to help those struggling to get by or get onto the property ladder. 

Schemes to help encourage home ownership (such as an equity sharing scheme or the recently-announced scheme to ensure people can get home insurance) are to be extended.

The Housing Authority will also be rolling out care plans for people requiring social housing. 

The government will also be forking out €300,000 to back the church’s Foundation for Affordable Housing. 


Disability benefits

7.08pm Severe disability benefits will no longer be subjected to means testing, Caruana says. 

More measures to favour the disabled: there are promises of investment in autism units and Braille machines for schools, and schemes for people who need occupational therapy. 

Other pledges: a community hub for the disabled and a ‘drive from wheelchair’ vehicle that will be used to teach physically disabled people how to drive. 

Want to know more? Here's our story about disability in Budget 2022.


€10k for school heads to spend on disadvantaged children

7.04pm Here’s an unusual one: school principals are to receive €10,000 each, to allocate to children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, to spend on food or other basic things they need. 

“We trust our school heads’ judgement,” Caruana says.  


Part-time workers with more than one job

7.03pm Part-time workers will now be allowed to pay social security contributions on more than one part-time job, up to 40 hours a week of employment. 

That's intended to give them a better shot at a decent pension. 


Pensioner-heirs

7.01pm There’s another pensions measure for pensioners who inherit, but we didn’t quite catch the detail. 

What’s certain is that donations of up to €20,000, including air space, will not be factored into pensions calculations. 

Caruana also promises help for pensioners, mainly women, who end up in dire straits due to separation after a lifetime of housework (which does not qualify you for a pension). 


Glad you could make it 

6.59pm Among the MPs listening to the budget speech is independent MP (and former Labour minister) Konrad Mizzi.

Mizzi made headlines last week when he refused to appear before the Public Accounts Committee, to answer questions about his role in the Electrogas power station deal.

Konrad Mizzi in parliament on Monday evening. Photo: Jonathan BorgKonrad Mizzi in parliament on Monday evening. Photo: Jonathan Borg


€11m for past injustices 

6.58pm There’s more money - €11 million of it – allocated to fixing “past injustices” related to old Enemalta workers. 


Disability benefits

6.57pm Caruana now focuses on incentives and benefits related to disability. 

There are increases in:

  • allowances for children with a disability (it will rise to €1560 per year
  • grants for carers of people with severe disability (up by €300 to reach €500)
  • grant for a carer at home to rise to €7,000 per year (from €6k)
  • subsidies for the Home Helper of Your Choice scheme to rise to €7/hr (from €5.50)

New baby? Here's some help

6.56pm If you’re having a baby or adopting a child next year, you’ll be getting an extra €100. A grant given to new parents that currently stands at €300 will be increased to €400. 


Free medicines

6.55pm The government medicines formulary is to be broadened. Medicines for cancer, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, circulatory conditions, inflammatory conditions, rare diseases, IVF patients and certain rare and extreme allergies will all be added to the list. 

Senior citizens aged 80 and over who are eligible for a supplementary allowance will as of next year be eligible for free medicines. 


All about pensions

6.53pm Need to know more about pensions benefits? 

Here's our article about Budget 2022 and pensions.

Photo: Jonathan BorgPhoto: Jonathan Borg


EXPERT INSIGHT

6.51pm

Here's some initial insight from Nicky Gouder and JP Fabri at Partner Seed: 

"During the past few years Malta faced challenges related to income distribution and equality. The measures announced are an answer to these challenges and support the most vulnerable people in society. Pensioners will be more equipped to deal with daily realities and protect their standard of living. 

"Pensioners are particularly vulnerable in society as they need to support their standard of living. Through numerous incentives and schemes, this budget will help pensioners support their quality of life."


More on pensions

6.50pm Service pensions are going to go up by €200, while cost of living bonuses will start “gradually” being paid to everyone who retired from 2008 onwards. 

If you retired but don’t qualify for a pension, then you can expect an additional €150 cheque. Caruana says around 12,000 people, “mostly women”, will benefit. 


What about public finances? 

6.49pm Wondering what government coffers are looking like? It's not looking pretty this year, but the government expects to halve its deficit as of next year. 

Here's more on those headline figures. 


'Many pensioners will see a €500 yearly increase'

6.47pm Caruana says that the government's various pensions increases - we'll have a link with all the details up shortly - will mean that some pensioners will get 'the equivalent of an extra pension cheque every year'. 


Pensions

6.45pm Caruana moves on to announcing budget measures.

It’s pensioners who get top billing. 

Pensions will rise by €5 a week, he says – a €1.75 COLA increase coupled with a €3.25 weekly increase. That’s a mirror image of last year’s increase and will cost taxpayers €26m. 

But there are also increases to supplementary allowances (of up to €6.50 per week, depending on income). 


Environment boost? 

6.44pm Caruana drops a titbit: he says they will be announcing the “biggest ever financial boost for the environment”. 


#TeamMalta

6.42pm As Caruana praises Malta’s workforce for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert Abela does similarly on Twitter. 

“Together as Team Malta we begin today the road towards a better #Malta, #learning from our mistakes and #building on our successes,” he writes.


Masks off

6.39pm If you're a child, you have to wear a mask while in class. If you use the bus, you have to wear a mask while commuting. You need to wear a mask when you pop into the grocer or hairdresser, too. 

But that rule does not apply to parliament. Only Chris Fearne appears to be masked up this evening. 

Masks? What masks?Masks? What masks?


Abela's hellish 100 days 

6.37pm Caruana begins with an overview of Malta’s handling of the pandemic, and says that no prime minister in Malta’s history has had to weather the first 100 days that Robert Abela faced last year. 

He then takes a dig at the Nationalist Party.

"Had we done what they did (during the global financial crisis), we would have sent you each five lightbulbs at home," he says to banging from government benches.


Journalists allowed in

6.33pm Speaker Anġlu Farrugia allows reporters into the parliament plenary. The budget speech can get under way. 


Buckle up

6.26pm Budget speeches tend to be long, drawn-out affairs that cover practically every aspect of the local economy. We don't expect any different this year. 

Once Caruana has read out the entire budget speech - that will probably take two or three hours - we expect both the prime minister and leader of the Opposition to hold press conferences. We'll be giving you updates of those too. 


Welcome

6.20pm Hello and welcome to this live blog.

The 2022 budget has been signed by president George Vella, and Clyde Caruana has made it through rush hour traffic to parliament, budget briefcase in hand.

Now all that's left is for him to announce it to the nation. 

George Vella signs the budget document. Photo: DOI/Pierre SammutGeorge Vella signs the budget document. Photo: DOI/Pierre Sammut

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