This is no ordinary year and budget.
The global pandemic continues to leave a trail of destruction around the world. The human cost of this pandemic is again on the rise. Social interaction continues to be restricted with the resulting economic cost being of significant magnitude. The external environment remains volatile and challenging.
This situation is obviously mirrored locally. With an economy heavily dependent on tourism, hospitality and accommodation; the economic consequences have been significant. This is also compounded by other internal challenges that have been brought about by the short-sighted economic vision and policy of the Labour administration. The services-based diversified economy built over the previous thirty years; themselves heavily dependent on Malta’s reputation; are today threatened by the prospect of Malta’s greylisting by MoneyVal and due to the reputational damage, this administration has caused. It is time to reflect and rethink our current economic model. It is time to start building tomorrow’s economy, today. And this is precisely why this is no ordinary budget year.
As a main architect of Malta’s modern, diversified and service-based economy; the Nationalist Party is determined to constructively contribute to the national debate by offering an economic vision that is people-centric, resilient and future-proof. Whilst recognizing the fiscal stimulus packages launched by Government over the past months and their cushioning effect; we are convinced that as we enter 2021, more economic sectors will require additional support packages. Whilst these packages need to ensure that employees are retained and retrained where necessary; we cannot afford to lose sight of the horizon as one day this virus will pass and we need to be prepared for that day.
In our pre-budget document; we focus on both fronts. Our short-term focus is the proposal to extend the support measures to impacted firms and sectors. Our approach is not just support to see them through; but a host of incentives to help businesses reinvent business models, transform themselves and invest in their future. Our incentives are focused on both the core economic sectors but also the nascent sectors with a focus on start-ups, research and investment. We also state and propose various measures to kickstart the green economy in Malta which can translate into quality jobs and a healthier environment for all to enjoy.
In this document, we also propose an initial framework for a renewed long-run masterplan for Malta’s economy. Our pillars are simple; diversification & transformation; digitalization; development in education & talent; a green renewal and governing as governance. In the coming months, the Nationalist Party will be expanding much more on these pillars as we want to start embracing the future from today.
In all of our document, inclusivity has been a key tenant. We believe that the measure of success of any economy is not headline statistics but the inclusivity of its economic base, the distribution of wealth and the ability for everyone to succeed. It is therefore an honour for me to present this economic document which is short-run focused as much as it is long-run focused.
It presents tangible measures aimed at stimulating, yet transforming the economy. Measures that equip our workers with right skills to ensure their inclusivity in tomorrow’s economy. Measures that ensure that no one is left behind and that the Government is there to safeguard the interests of all. This document is a tangible expression that as a Nationalist Party our belief is not that people work for the economy but that we can build an economy that works for the people.
Leader of the Opposition and Nationalist Party
The impact of COVID-19 on the Maltese economy has been severely felt by many businesses, especially those operating in tourism related activities, transport and logistics, together with wholesale and retail. In order to restart, recover and thrive, we need to reimagine the possible and focus on restoring demand in our economy, which will support the maintenance and restoration of certainty in people’s jobs and incomes. The need for incentives to stimulate private and public investment not to dry is key. At the same time, businesses should be encouraged and supported to continue to adapt their business to the new reality and also embrace the need for a transformation in their operating model.
The opposition had been very vociferous during the past years on the need to have an economy built on sustainable drivers. The pandemic and the meltdown of governance structures in crucial institutions had exposed the vulnerability of the current economic model the labour administration had been maneuvering for the past seven years. Malta is at a crossroads. There was never a need like today for a masterplan on all sectors of the economy towards a sustainable model accepted and endorsed by all the stakeholders involved, namely the Malta Council for Social and Economic Development.
As had been the case during the past years, the Nationalist Party in opposition had prepared a pre-Budget document, with a factual macroeconomic and public finance analysis on the state of the Maltese economy, especially now during these unprecedented times characterised by a global health and economic crises. The document outlines considerations to help to protect and support Maltese businesses as they restart and recover in the post-COVID-19 environment. In the pre-budget document, we explore four key components that we believe should be addressed to support our economy in the forthcoming 2021 Budget:
• Employment maintenance and restoration
• Financing and supporting investment in Maltese SMEs
• Tax relieving and cash-flow measures to stimulate demand in the economy
• A Masterplan for key sectors of the Maltese economy, driven by transformation with the help of digitization.
As a shadow Minister for Finance I feel privileged to present this pre-budget document, a sheer proof of collective professional teamwork and effort. In a highly challenging period, the opposition is actively engaged and well positioned to contribute to the common good for the benefit of our beloved country and to once again succeed as a nation.
Mario de Marco
Opposition Spokesperson for Finance