Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party
Press Release 4/11/09
AD presents budget proposals
AD is calling for a responsible budget which safeguards the purchasing power of lower and middle income earners and stimulates economic activity without undermining the country’s finances whose integrity is essential to safeguard long term investment in education, health and the environment.
‘Our focus for the next budget are families with children, low and middle income earners and small businesses. While we should never abandon fiscal discipline which would be irresponsible at a time of crisis, these categories should not bear the brunt of the current economic recession’, AD Chairperson Michael Briguglio said.
Briguglio presented AD’s main proposals for the next budget.
1) An increased investment in child care through a voucher system through which the state would pay a number of child care hours for parents opting for private child care centres, proportionately to the income of the persons involved. These vouchers should cover all child care costs of single parents during the first year after re-entering the labour market. Government should also increase investment in accessible and affordable childcare centres and incentivize private companies to introduce child care centres for employees.
2) The minimum wage should be increased in a way that reflect current needs and realities. This measure would safeguard the most vulnerable workers from exploitation while encouraging more people to enter the legal labour market.
3) Electricity tariffs should reflect the international price of oil. But a fixed tariff rate should be introduced for basic and sustainable consumption of energy, which should be established through scientific studies. But anyone using more than this amount should be expected to pay tariffs which reflect fluctuations in the market. To minimize the impact of fluctuations in the oil market a unit should be set up in the Resources Authority with the brief to assisting small businesses as well as households to reduce energy costs by increasing energy efficiency.
4) The introduction of a speculation tax on all properties kept vacant for for more than a year, from one's third property onwards and excluding summer residences. This tax will encourage more sustainable land use by penalizing speculation. The Housing Authority should also assist persons with social needs.
5) In line with the Green ethos of supporting businesses which create jobs and serve as centres of creativity and innovation in the emerging green economy, we propose the introduction of reductions in tax rates for small companies and compensate for any drop in Government revenue by raising the tax rate on commercial banking activities. Government should also increase assistance to such companies in training facilities for workers, investment incentives and other schemes.
6) All boreholes extracting ground water should be metered. Apart from registered farmers using water exclusively for irrigation, everyone possessing a borehole, including companies producing table water, should pay commercial water rates.
7) Government should not reduce subsidies on public transport so as to ensure that the system has enough funds to be accessible to all at all times and in all parts of the islands. Government revenue generated through the Transport Authority should be used for such scope. Persons without a driving license should have free access to public transport.
‘When presenting a budget during a crisis, the government has to direct its energies at sustaining families and job creation without undermining the sustainability of public finances on which our long term prosperity depends. Unlike others we are not presenting wishy washy proposals in a bid to appease everyone. Our proposals are responsible and focused on low and middle income earners, families with children and small businesses’, added Michael Briguglio.