Yesterday was Budget Day. One cannot say that it was not a good budget. It has a number of good measures. There is nothing much to criticize. But the main criticism is that this budget has very few measures that will bear any positive impact on the income of the average Maltese. This is why this budget is being defined as inconsequential. If one is not interested in buying property, then the measures in this sector do not affect one. As the measures announced for restoration, these will be most beneficial for those individuals working in the construction industry.
The only measure that going to benefit the white and blue-collar workers is the weekly increase of 1 euro 75c. But is this a measure that needs to be lauded? One only needs to go to any supermarket and one will find that there are quite a number of items that have increased in price by far more than 2 euros since the pandemic broke out. The Minister of Finance himself said that the COLA mechanism needs to be reviewed. The most important aspect of the budget – the regulation of wage increase – is not achieving its purpose. The increase given does not reflect the true hike in day-to-day necessities. By the next budget in 2022, most of these workers will find that they have less in their pocket than this year.
As a white-collar worker, the only other positive measure that had a direct impact on me was the fact that one of my children is going to have a 10% increase in her stipend, plus having the right to work 25 hours a week and her stipend will remain untouched. Otherwise, there was no other measure that had any significant impact on my income.
But despite all this and despite the fact that this budget is inconsequential to most workers who traditionally support the Nationalist Party, the PN still fails to hit the right chord with the electorate when commenting on the budget. The reason is obvious. It is a question of attitude. A leader in Opposition can never go out and speak the way Dr. Bernard Grech is speaking about the budget. He needs to state the truth. This is a good budget but as I have argued, very few people, in particular, the white- and blue-collar workers will benefit from it. This does not make it bad – as the Opposition is arguing but irrelevant or inconsequential to a large section of the population. The Nationalist Party needs to be objective and learn to speak a language that is understandable to all if it wants to make headway in politics.