Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said the budget had a mix of measures, some of which were positive, whilst others being rather vague. The budget also missed out from taking concrete action in certain social and environmental matters.
Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said: ‘It is positive that in a context of global economic difficulties, Government is aiming to reduce the deficit. Hopefully, Government’s expenditure programme will be more sustainable’.
‘We also agree that Government shall pay workers on minimum wage who undergo training programmes, and that Government will make life easier for people on social assistance who choose to work. On the other hand, strongly believes in an increase in the national and hourly minimum wage, including that for part-timers and contractual workers on a pro-rata basis. AD also augurs that Government’s enforcement against employers who exploit foreign workers is effective’.
‘As regards cost of living and social benefits, we agree with the increase in supplementary and in expenditure for vulnerable groups such as fostered children. We would however have expected more expenditure on disabled persons and the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as those with ME and FB for entitlement of disability benefits’.
‘As regards health, it is also positive that Government shall investment in the Cancer Centre at Mater Dei Hospital. In this regard, it is important to note that cancer should also be confronted through better environmental policy which is currently lacking. Government should also do much more to tackle costly medicinal prices, including considering importing them itself alongside importers from the private sector’.
‘Alternattiva Demokratika believes that it would have been better if Government put even more investment in public education and childcare centres rather than incentivising private education’.
Ralph Cassar, AD Secretary General, said: ‘As regards environmental policy, we strongly believe that Government should do much more for sustainable development, for example by reactivating the national commission for sustainable development. Government’s expenditure on renewable energy is simply not enough, especially when one keeps in mind the dirty fuel which shall be used in the power station extension. Government should also elaborate on the assistance schemes for sustainable energy’.
‘Government should also have introduced fiscal measures on property speculation, from third vacant property onwards, particularly when Malta is a perpetual building site and when a quarter of properties are vacant. Fiscal mechanisms should encourage the renting and selling of properties which are kept vacant for speculation purposes and the use of existing buildings rather than building more areas’.
‘AD also supports the investment in farmers markets and in animal welfare centre. It is also positive that Government shall introduce incentives encouraging cleaner transport. Till now details are too vague to comment in detail.’