Prime Minister and Labour leader Joseph Muscat said today a priority of a future Labour government would be to cut taxes and boost people’s wealth.
“This will be a two-pronged policy to raise people’s disposable income and give a stimulus for business leading to greater economic growth,” Dr Muscat said at a Labour press conference.
“We will thus give the people part of the surplus we have managed to achieve.”
He said the system would be in the form of gradual tax refunds for 190,000 people earning as much as €60,000 with those earning the least getting the highest refund. The refunds will range between €200 and €340.
Those who do not pay tax will still get benefits.
Tax on part-time work will be reduced from 15 per cent to 10 per cent. This will also apply to the self-employed.
Dr Muscat said students who obtain a masters degree will be exempt from income tax for a year. The exemption goes up to two years for those who obtain a PhD.
He said pensions during the coming legislature would be gradually raised to €8 per week in the same way as the agreement to raise the minimum wage.
RESURFACING OF ALL ROADS
Dr Muscat said a Labour government would resurface all of Malta's roads in what would be the biggest ever investment on the roads over a period of seven years.
The project will cost €700 million funded by the EU and national funds including funds from the Citizenship by Investment programme. An agency will be set up to handle the project.
This funding does not include the tunnel between Malta and Gozo.
The Labour Party would however shortly announce 'very clear plans' to improve the mass transport system.
Dr Muscat also announced that public holidays which fall on weekends will again be given as public holidays. The holidays will either be added to annual leave, or else given on the Monday following the day when the holiday was due, a concept similar to bank holidays. Employers will be compensated for the loss of competitiveness.
A future Labour government will also introduce more measures to enable people to own their houses, Dr Muscat said. Couples will be helped to access finance to put down deposits on their future homes, although care would be taken to ensure they do not reach beyond their means.
Furthermore, after the success of the scheme to help first time buyers, a new measure will be introduced to help those already having a house to move on to better housing.
IIP TO BE EXTENDED
Dr Muscat also announced that the government intends to extend the Citizenship by Investment (sale of passports) scheme, which had been a success.
In his press conference, Dr Muscat reiterated that he would resign if the current magisterial inquiry found anything against him. He said he would like the inquiry to be concluded as soon as possible.
But when asked if that also applied if, say, the inquiry found something against his chief of staff, Dr Muscat said everyone would need to shoulder his responsibilities.
If it was confirmed that the allegations were all lies, it should be Simon Busuttil who should resign from whatever position he held, Dr Muscat said.
Dr Muscat defended his decision to call an election a year early, saying he had acted responsibly to ensure that uncertainty did not harm the economy and jobs.
Chamber warns against populist impulses
In a statement issued in the afternoon, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry warned both political parties against the temptation of racing to outbid one another with promises that could undermine the country's competitiveness.
It highlighted Dr Muscat's public holiday pledge, saying that the Chamber had already made it clear in the past that it considered the matter a closed case. The agreement to raise the minimum wage was also final, it said.
The Chamber held back from expressing a political opinion, saying it would not be expressing itself further for the time being. "The Malta Chamber is eager to learn more about the workings of such promises which till now have not yet been made public," it said.