Workers and students will receive cheques worth €100, while pensioners and people on social benefits will receive up to €200 as part of a cash injection to the economy, Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced.
This is over and above the tax refunds ranging from €60 to €145 that were previously announced in the budget.
The government’s total outlay in the form of the cash cheques and tax refunds will be €70 million and it will benefit 380,000 people.
Abela, accompanied by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, said the wage supplement scheme will be retained for as long as needed to ensure the economy recovers quickly post-COVID.
Abela said the government's aggressive intervention in the face of rising energy and fuel prices had saved people €500 annually on their bills.
While prices are rising rapidly in other countries, the prime minister said Malta has among the lowest inflation rates in Europe.
Caruana announced the projected deficit for last year is expected to be 8.1% of GDP, three percentage points lower than originally anticipated.
He said the lower deficit would allow the government additional financial room to manoeuvre.
Caruana said the €70 million stimulus package was well within the government’s financial means.
The finance minister said he will be meeting social partners again at the end of March to agree on an additional mechanism to compensate people when prices rise.
The cash injection is likely to further fuel speculation that an election is nearing.
Asked whether there would be a March election, Abela reiterated only that it would be over by June.
In a news conference later on Thursday, PN spokesperson Peter Agius said the prime minister’s press conference was a “smokescreen” to deviate from scandals around him, and that some of the measures announced this morning, such as the tax refund cheques, had already been made public in this year’s budget plans.
Agius said that Abela calling a press conference to announce old budget measures was like “reheating soup” and an attempt to distract from news reports detailing his company earning €17,000 a month from public coffers, while cost of living increases only went up by €1.75 a week.
How much will you receive in tax refunds?
Single people earning between 0-€15,000 will receive a refund of €125.
Those earning between €15,001 and €30,000 will be eligible for €95 and those earning between €30,001 and €60,000 will receive €60.
For couples earning between €0-€20,000, the tax refund will reach €140. Those in the €20,001 to €40,000 will qualify for €110 and those in the €40,001 to €59,999 band will get €65.
Parents earning between 0-€15,000 will get €135, those in the €15,001 to €30,000 qualify for €105 and those earning over €30,001 will receive €60.
It was not immediately clear when the funds will be distributed.