The Opposition is ready to help the government because it is showing it has no plan for today, tomorrow or the future, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said in an initial reaction to the Budget.
“If you were stuck in traffic today, you will still be stuck in traffic tomorrow. If you cannot make ends meet today, you will be in the same position tomorrow. If you have poor working conditions, precarious work will still be there tomorrow,” Dr Delia told a press conference.
He said the Nationalist Party welcomed some parts of the Budget, such as the extra day added to vacation leave, the free transport for all school children as originally proposed by Simon Busuttil and the €10,000 offered to adoptive parents to meet the costs of adoptions.
But the PN was concerned that the government was not continuing the pensions reform process. Pensioners had been given a miserly €2 raise. What new medicine could they buy with that?
The future of sustainable pensions needed to be discussed, including second pillar pensions, he said.
What road plan?
Turning to transport, Dr Delia said that in view of Labour’s electoral promise to rebuild all of Malta’s roads within seven years, one expected 15% of the roads to be ready by the end of next year. But instead, the government was only planning to set up the Roads Agency next year, followed by capacity building. So when would the seven-year programme start, he asked.
Rebuilding the roads would not solve Malta’s traffic problems, he stressed.
And, he said, there was more to the infrastructure than the roads. The government spoke of a growing economy, growing tourist numbers and more investment, but was there the necessary infrastructure for this growth? Not a single infrastructural project had been mentioned in the budget speech.
Crisis in education
On education, Dr Delia said this sector was facing a crisis because teachers were disheartened and the government had not said what it would do. It only mentioned the building of schools in three localities, which were also mentioned last year.
Some 30 per cent of students this year had failed or did not even sit for their Matsec exams. Though it was good to waive exam fees, the more important thing was to address the problem of early school leavers.
Dr Delia said that hardly anything was said in the Budget about Air Malta, despite the fact that airline was a pillar of the economy.
No long-term planning for manufacturing sector
The budget also showed there was no long-term planning for the manufacturing sector, for sports and culture, among other sectors.
The government was also not taking real action to make house rents affordable to most Maltese.
Maltese motorists would also continue to pay some of the highest prices for petrol and diesel, while the traffic problem grew every day.
There was also no long term in the energy sector. How much of Malta’s energy would come from renewable sources in 20 years’ time?
Dr Delia observed that while the government would be extending the IIP passports scheme it failed to explain how the funds from this scheme were being used.
Concluding, Dr Delia said the Budget speech ignored or said very little about farmers and fishermen, sports, local councils, culture and animal welfare.
On Gozo, the government mentioned geological studies for the tunnel. But what of the promised fast ferry service, the casino and the cruise liner terminal?
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