Government has no long-term plan, Bernard Grech says on Budget

Grech says the Budget failed to address quality of life and did little to alleviate the cost-of-living burden

The Labour government’s Budget 2023 shows it has no long-term economic plan, Opposition leader Bernard Grech in first reactions to the measures.

In a press conference after the Budget, Grech said the Budget did not address bread-and-butter issues. “It’s a lot of nice words but offers no direction or solution.”

He described it as a continuation of an economic plan that has failed. “Today we expected an alternative vision from government – but we heard nothing of this.”

“No wonder the bag turned red from black – he’s put the country in the red,” he said, saying debt will increase by €1 billion in absolute terms.

Grech argued that the Budget failed to address quality of life, with the cost-of-living burden increases while social help decreases.

He also noted that the budget for the disciplined forces was shaved down. He pointed out that capital investment in the heatlh sector was also cut down, “but he still found money to give to Vitals”, he said – a reference to the three privatised hospitals handed to Vitals Global Healthcare, and later Steward Healthcare.

Grech continued that, despite these cuts, government still spent thousands of euro on press conferences through public finances. He pointed out that few new measures were introduced for the education sector.

“Tomorrow will be more of the same for Maltese and Gozitans.”

He put the credibility of the figures into question, claiming that government overspent in its recurrent expenditure. “Even the finance minister admitted that a quarter of his promises weren’t fulfilled.”

“We’re on the tail-end of the pandemic, but this government’s doesn’t have a long-term economic plan. Even the finance minister admitted it was an error to base his model on quantity.”

When asked what the Nationalist Party would have done different if it were in government, Grech said that a PN government would have worked to create new sectors and attract more nurses, teachers, and other workers in sectors suffering from labour shortages.

“A Nationalist government would not only attract foreign workers but invest in incentives for our youth to work in existing and new sectors.”

He continued that the Nationalist Party would not “waste money on persons of trust”.

Grech will be delivering a more detailed reaction to the Budget 2023 next Monday in his own parliamentary speech.

During the press conference, Grech was asked whether he read his party’s pre-Budget document, which was riddled with spelling mistakes, poor sentence construction, unnecessary capitalisation of words, and in some instances repetition of text.

He said he read the document, and acknowledged criticism from the independent press on the poor wording of the document.

“But they didn’t criticise our proposals or measures. They didn’t say there were problems in our economic strategy,” he said.