The recent unveiling of Malta’s Budget 2024 by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has sparked a range of reactions from various entities, shedding light on the diverse perspectives and concerns regarding the nation’s financial plan. Let’s take a closer look at the key takeaways from these reactions:
UHM Voice of the Workers: 💬 “With the money we gave to Steward and Vitals we would have made another budget of €500 million”
The UHM Voice of the Workers expressed disappointment over the government’s decision not to exempt the cost of living allowance (COLA) from taxation. This move was seen as essential in alleviating the impact of the high cost of living and could have left €30 million in the pockets of Maltese families. The absence of this measure left many disheartened, especially considering widespread support for it.
Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry: 💬 “Clear on social objectives, vague on wealth creation.”
The Malta Chamber highlighted that a growing portion of the budget is allocated to recurrent expenditure, focusing on energy subsidies and social assistance. While this support is essential for vulnerable groups amid inflationary pressures, the Chamber pointed out that investment in infrastructure, such as energy distribution, waste management, and transportation networks, was insufficient. The budget missed an opportunity to introduce concrete measures to reduce private car use in congested areas, particularly during rush hours.
ADPD-The Green Party: 💬 “A fair Malta… for whom?”
The ADPD expressed concerns over the budget’s allocation of resources, especially subsidies, which they considered wasteful. While they acknowledged the increase in the minimum wage as a step in the right direction, they deemed it insufficient for a decent standard of living. The party also anticipated measures to reduce unsustainable energy subsidies, but these were not clearly addressed in the budget.
Malta Chamber of SMEs: 💬 “Energy subsidies are an important reassurance.”
The Malta Chamber of SMEs welcomed the assurance of continued energy subsidies. However, they noted the absence of specific incentives to strengthen SMEs within the budget, expressing a desire for more emphasis on this vital sector.
General Workers’ Union: 💬 “Budget 2024: A budget that continues to improve the quality of life.”
The General Workers’ Union commended the budget for its significant expenditure on social measures, especially for the most vulnerable segments of the population. Measures such as raising the national minimum wage over four years and increasing social services, including pensions, were highlighted. The continuation of energy, fuel, and cereal subsidies was also appreciated.
Gozo Business Chamber: 💬 “A focus on the social aspect and significant projects.”
The Gozo Business Chamber noted that the budget primarily addresses social aspects and maintains a high standard of living for the Maltese population. They highlighted various upcoming projects, such as the rural airfield initiative and the completion of essential infrastructural developments, which are expected to benefit the community. Additionally, the introduction of an MRI machine for Gozo was seen as a positive step.
Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association: 💬 “Tourism remains the motor of the economy.”
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) emphasised the government’s commitment to supporting the economic resurgence and expansion, particularly within the tourism sector. The importance of connectivity and the launch of a new airline were highlighted. MHRA also acknowledged the wide-ranging social benefit schemes, although they noted a reduction in the subvention for the Malta Tourism Authority.
These varied responses to Budget 2024 underscore the complex challenges and priorities facing Malta as it navigates economic and social issues in the years ahead.
The budget’s impact on different sectors and segments of the population will be closely watched as the financial plan is implemented.