Credit agency Standard & Poor's has raised its classification of Malta's economy from stable to positive, a decision lauded by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.

The move comes a year after S&P improved Malta's rating from BBB+ to A-.

The agency is forecasting that over the next three years Malta's economy will maintain its rate of growth with an average of four per cent, and this would lead to a further reduction in debt as a proportion of the Gross Domestic Product.

It noted the improvement in government finances, as well as the programme of reforms in government enterprises.

Standard & Poor’s observed that over the last five years the Maltese economy has undergone significant changes and has diversified into other sectors from manufacturing and financial services, through new investments in the energy and logistics sectors as well as diversification in tourist markets.

The positive classification was acquired despite the fact that the country recently went through a general election, Prof. Scicluna told a news conference. In the past, general elections have persistently harmed the country's economic and financial trends.

With days to the presentation of the 2018 budget, Prof. Scicluna expressed confidence that by the end of this year the government surplus would be far greater than last year. He said the government was no longer borrowing €300 million a year as it was doing in the past.

S&P said the rating could be better had Malta not been exposed to international factors because of its size, which could change economic trends, among which efforts towards international regulations on company taxes and gaming.

“Standard and Poor's is saying that the Maltese economy is not seeing the end of a boom but that the island is still experiencing wide expansion. This contrasts sharply with the negative observations made in the Opposition's pre-budget document," Prof. Scicluna said. 

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