The Nationalist Party wants a fairer tax system for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with leader Bernard Grech saying this would not only improve businesses' competitiveness but also generate more revenue for the government. 

Speaking on the party's television channel, NET TV, on Tuesday evening, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said the PN wants to modernise the country's taxation model so that the government can generate more revenue while ensuring families do not suffer.  

"The world is moving towards different models for taxation and Malta is no exception. We want to encourage those who help generate a strong economy," Grech said.

Local SMEs, he said, are at a disadvantage when compared to those coming to the island to do business. Though investment from abroad must continue, the Maltese business owners should not be forced to compete with others who are in a more privileged situation, Grech said. 

In the proposed system, the PN would strengthen the bargaining power for local SMEs, he said. 

The success of such models hinged on good governance, Grech said, as outlined in the three themes the party will be using as a basis when drafting its manifesto for the upcoming general election. The PN unveiled these three themes - a socio-economic vision for Malta 2030, human values in a modern society and good governance - on Monday. 

Through better good governance mechanisms, Grech said the government would waste less money corruption and more on strengthening the economy. The money would then be injected into the small businesses that would, in turn, help the economy flourish. 

'People deserve an explanation'

The PN leader said meetings with different sectors, including the business community, were ongoing. In a recent meeting with a gym owner, for instance, Grech said he was told the lack of direction and planning meant such businesses were still suffering greatly. 

"We need to ensure that the government listens to the health experts so that we can insist on these sectors reopening as soon as possible. We have to make sure that the sacrifices by the many people out there were not in vain," Grech said. 

He said the government has to ensure those coming to the island would not bringing COVID-19 cases with them. 

On restaurants opening until 5pm, Grech said that while the government initially said restaurants were not a problem, it is now saying they have to shut in the evenings. 

"Why is it fine to open until 5pm but not later? People deserve an explanation," the PN leader said. 

Grech went on to reveal the government had not consulted the Opposition on the national economic recovery plan, despite the PN putting forward its proposals. 

On mental health, Grech said the pandemic has brought with it struggles that impacted a large number of people. "You don't have to have been admitted to a mental health facility but you could still have had psychological struggles that require attention," Grech said. 

He pledged the PN would work to ensure mental health is given priority.

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