When addressing the Nationalist Party’s General Council yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi asked the Leader of the Opposition Dr. Joseph Muscat whether, in order to reduce the debt, he plans to increase taxes as Labour MEP Edward Scicluna has suggested.
I strongly refute this claim by the Prime Minister which is completely baseless and is meant as just a ploy to deflect attention.
During the Budget debate carried by the media I have written articles, gave interviews and appeared on a number of TV programmes. It appears that this has annoyed the Prime Minister greatly. My detailed description of how the European Commission will be looking at our Budget following the Warning Letter, and that the debt ratio which is forecasted to continue rising should have been the budget’s concern, surely did not go down well with the Prime Minister.
Thanks to today’s technology, these contributions are accessible to all and can be checked as to their contents. I therefore challenge the Prime Minister to quote the exact words I said which in his fertile imagination he construed as my having advised taxation increases on industry at this time of our economic situation.
The only occasion that an interviewer tried to put words in my mouth to that effect was, surprise surprise, the Bondi+ programme which discussed the extension of the maternity leave. When I remarked that unlike other European countries Malta sees the full cost of maternity leave being borne by the employers of female workers I also said that in other countries the cost is less burdensome and less discriminatory because it is shared. At this point the interviewer, visibly and audibly prompted by the Minister of Finance Tonio Fenech, asked me whether I am suggesting that the cost be added to the National Insurance (NI).
I replied that this is not what I am suggesting. With continued badgering on this point I continued repeating several times that this burden already exists on industry, so no new burdens are being suggested. Sharing an existing burden does not add any taxes or NI. It is one way to make the existing burden lighter on the employers. Being solely an employers’ matter it is obvious that this would have to be solved among themselves, and not imposed by the government.
It is very obvious that the government is getting hysterical because it is in a tight spot. The situation we are now in, is the accumulation of many past economic mistakes. It will be more worthwhile for the Prime Minister to heed E.U. Commissioner Ohlin Rhen’s Warning Letter where the Government, by December, has to show that its fiscal measures are “sufficient”, “permanent”, and “convincing”. By deflecting attention from its chores by inventing silly claims like the one above, will not make its political and economic problems go away.
Monday – 21 November, 2011