Pre-Budget Launch: Emphasis on debt reduction, no details on tax reform: Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has launched Government’s Pre-Budget Document for 2024. In a detailed presentation to social partners, the Finance Minister underscored his moral duty to ensure fiscal discipline in public spending. Caruana said his Ministry will continue to implement its plan for “sustained reduction of the budget deficit and controlled government debt, to gradually align with the European Commission’s fiscal rules”. While the document contains substantial economic analysis and policy declarations, there is little detail on possible budget measures. The anticipated tax reform, featuring the introduction of a minimum 15% corporate tax rate, is acknowledged, though without a specified timeline for its enactment.
Government announces new Covid vaccination drive: Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that the commencement of the flu vaccination and COVID-19 booster schedule is set for October 9, 2023. Speaking to the media, he clarified that the vaccination plan for both influenza and COVID-19 is adjusted to the prevalent virus variant during the season. During the initial week of the vaccination campaign, eligible individuals will encompass those aged 55 and above, individuals with chronic conditions, pregnant women, residents in institutions, and healthcare workers. Subsequently, the vaccination programme will expand to the entire population starting from October 16, accessible through Health Centres and community clinics without the need for prior appointments.
COLA should not be taxed – Chamber
The Malta Chamber of Commerce is recommending the elimination of summer half-days for government employees and advocating for the exemption of the cost of living adjustment (COLA) from taxation. During the presentation of its pre-budget document, CEO Marthese Portelli pointed out the inconsistency of government entities closing at 12pm while many businesses operate well into the evening. Portelli noted that the document comprises over 250 proposals, including the suggestion to make COLA tax-free. Given the anticipation of COLA reaching €13 per week this year due to Malta’s sustained high inflation in 2023, this proposal gains significance. She argued that evolving times and the need for businesses to transition towards a more employee-centric approach that enhances quality of life and reduces stress. Portelli acknowledged the challenge of motivating all entities to take immediate action but stressed the importance of making bold and occasionally unpopular decisions. (The Malta Independent)
Compensation for July power cuts announced
Households and businesses that endured power outages lasting more than six hours in July will receive a one-time compensation payment to offset the inconvenience. This compensation will be provided as an automatic credit applied to their utility bills, calculated based on the average consumption for households during the corresponding three-month period in the previous year. As an illustration, residential accounts facing interruptions of six to eight hours will receive a credit of €60, with a maximum compensation limit of €110. Repeated powercuts were the order of the day during the month of July, with some localities affected multiple times. (Maltatoday)
Top PL officials refuse to confirm if Silvio Grixti still a party member
Key Labour Party figures have declined to confirm whether former MP Silvio Grixti remains a party member, despite ongoing police investigations into his alleged involvement in a long-running benefit fraud scheme, which began nearly two years ago. At a press conference held on Tuesday, PL president Ramona Attard and deputy leader Daniel Micallef faced repeated inquiries about Grixti’s party affiliation. However, both officials refrained from providing a response. Initially, they avoided addressing the question altogether and subsequently left the press conference when further pressed on the matter. Grixti, who served as a family doctor and PL MP from 2017 to 2021, was compelled to resign several months prior to the 2022 general election, but Labour never indicated publicly the reason behind this decision. (Times of Malta)