Malta would have registered a budgetary surplus even without the cash-for-passports scheme, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said on Monday.
Addressing a meeting between MEUSAC and social partners, Prof. Scicluna said that preliminary economic indications showed that the country's consolidated fund surplus could still have been registered had the Individual Investor Programme not been in place. He did not clarify further, but said the economic potential of the country could have made good for the budgetary deficit.
The cash-for-passport scheme – introduced just months into Labour's return to power in 2013 – is still shrouded in secrecy, with the government refusing to publish the names of those buying Maltese citizenship.
A total of €163.5 million was earned through the IIP in 2016, according to the National Statistics Office. That same year, Malta registered a surplus of €112.9 million.
Prof. Scicluna was presenting a draft consultation document of the National Reform Program. The Monday morning meeting follows the publication of the European Commission’s Country Specific Report and is meant to hash out how the government plans to address recommendations made by Brussels.
“The substance is that you can't have success without reforms. This government had introduced reforms from the first day of taking office and these drove the country forward. The challenge today is to continue the positive trend and continue introducing reforms,” he said.
Media was only allowed in to the first few minutes of the meeting, during which Prof. Scicluna said spending reviews were ongoing in the health, education, and social security sectors to highlight shortcomings.
On his part, EU Funds Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia said Cabinet was meeting to look at ways to address challenges highlighted in the Brussels report pn Malta: skills shortages, inadequate infrastructure, and rising rents.
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