The Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna presented an overview of the National Reform Programme (NRP) to the social partners during a joint MCESD/MEUSAC meeting on Friday 27th March 2015.
Press statement by the Ministry for Finance
In his introduction, MEUSAC Head Vanni Xuereb, who chaired the meeting, explained that the National Reform Programme is a document that forms part of the European Union’s Economic Semester, and outlines the government’s country policies and measures pertaining to Malta’s country specific recommendations, and its efforts to sustain growth and jobs and to reach the Europe 2020 targets.
Dr Xuereb referred to the European Council meeting held on March 19 and 20 when EU Heads of State or Government discussed the economic situation in Europe and the implementation of key structural reforms undertaken by Member States. The European Council also endorsed the three main pillars of the European Commission’s Annual Growth Survey – investment, structural reforms and growth-friendly fiscal consolidation – and invited Member States to reflect these priorities in their forthcoming National Reform Programmes and the Stability/Convergence Programmes which set out the Member States’ budgetary plans for the coming three to four years. These are presented in parallel.
During his presentation, Minister Scicluna said that, as a member of the Euro group family, it is Malta’s duty to coordinate budgets and inform other Member States, in the most transparent manner, what the country’s targets are, where the country stands today, and where the government intends to go.
He said that the presentation of the budget framework behind the NRP for 2016 represents the first step along the way towards the Budget 2016 itself, which he said will be published in October, roughly a month earlier than usual so as to align Malta’s budgetary timeline with the European Semester.
Minister Scicluna explained that the National Reform Programme for 2015 will address the most pressing issues which are, in the European Commission’s view, in most need of attention and reforms. These are commonly known as the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs).
“This government agrees with most of the recommendations within the Commission’s identified CSRs for Malta, so much so that our work programme for the coming year already aligns perfectly with the Commission’s recommendations in this regard,” Minister Scicluna said.
The recommendations span five areas: fiscal policy, the long-term sustainability of public finance, including the ongoing pension reform, ensuring comprehensive reform of the Public Health System, and ensuring optimal Resource Efficiency while cultivating a climate conducive to business and enterprise.
Minister Scicluna also noted that a day earlier, he had the pleasure of participating in the EY Economic Forecast Initiative, during which they presented their economic forecast for Malta and the Euro zone.
He also announced that the Government is currently expecting Canadian rating agency DBRS, a leading global agency, to join other rating agencies such as S&P, Fitch, and Standards & Poor’s in issuing a rating for Malta. DBRS’ first-ever rating for Malta is expected to be published in the coming days.
“We welcome how the number of agencies issuing ratings for our country is growing. The wider the spread of assessments on Malta and our economy, the better stakeholders such as investors can assess our present economic climate,” Minister Scicluna said.
The main issues raised by some of the stakeholders present for the meeting were pension reform, the Youth Guarantee, apprenticeship schemes, the Investment Plan for Europe, labour policies, the business environment in relation to investment and private-public partnership, better regulation and the reduction of bureaucracy, tax evasion and access to finance particularly for Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
Malta’s NRP will be presented to the Commission on April 15th 2015. The social partners were invited to submit any feedback in writing by not later than Friday 3rd April 2015, on the email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 27th March 2015