PL to use benefits as work incentive

MEP Edward Scicluna has said that a Labour government would change the welfare system to encourage people to enter the labour market.

Interviewed by The Times Business, the Labour candidate, who is expected to be given a senior economic Cabinet post if his party wins the election, said:

“I always talked about the fact that people on social benefits must have an incentive to go out and work.

“At the moment the system is penalising them, telling them stay where you are, it’s not worth working. Now we have to change the system whereby you sort of taper off the benefits, in one or two years, whereby if they were to find work, you will not cut all the benefits at one time. We want work to pay.”

Asked if a Labour government would lessen people’s welfare benefits, he replied:

“The whole taxation benefits system, the government has more than €3 billion from it, it’s the whole taxation part and another €3 billion in expenditure, and together they are like the reins on a horse, you can pull and push, and you goad the system to be pro-work, and at the same time being kind towards the underprivileged.”

Prof. Scicluna said Malta’s economy has been suffering from a lack of potential and that the country’s potential economic growth has been falling “from six per cent to four per cent to three per cent and now from two to one and a half, and for the future we would be lucky to reach two per cent”.

He said once Europe and the eurozone exit the recession “we should have the spare capacity to grow with it, but if our potential rate remains at two per cent, we are condemned to grow at two per cent and that is not good enough. We will never converge with the median European income unless we grow faster than Germany, France, Italy, all taken together. We need to grow by at least four per cent if we want to converge in say, 15 years time to that median.”

Prof. Scicluna said a Labour government would aim at stopping the debt ratio from increasing. He Added: “We want the economy to grow and we’ll do everything possible to stop the debt from growing.”

He said bureaucracy was an added burden which endangered jobs. “It grows especially from certain authorities. Sometimes the means becomes the end itself. We want a clean environment, safe industry and workers’ rights upheld but beyond that we don’t want the added bureaucracy,” he said.

Questioned about how a Labour government planned to increase foreign direct investment to Malta, Prof. Scicluna said international organisations measure attractiveness by certain characteristics, such as bureaucracy, corruption and taxation. “We were marked down in the World Bank report and given a value below many backward countries. That report needs to be examined. Singapore and the Nordic countries for example are clean and efficient, that’s how we attract foreign investment.”

Asked which European social democratic leader, past and present, he would consider as his role model, Prof. Scicluna replied: “I think the first five years of Tony Blair would be my role model. There was so much energy there, they moved to the centre and they could talk to business. Obviously after those years it became complicated, the war, so on and so forth. I prefer Tony Blair to Brown or to Hollande, they are not my role models.”



– The Times of Malta : Thursday, 28th February, 2013

, ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *