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Proposals from Unions and other bodies

Several unions, and other bodies presented their proposals for this year's budget in the preceding weeks. Most unions and constituted bodies, however also held extensive talks with the Minister of Finance.

The Malta Council for Economic and Social Development also held meetings that focussed on the budget and came up with its own proposals.

Federation of Industries

As part of its proposals for the government's Budget for next year, the Federation of Industry (FOI) is proposing several measures to tackle the current problems in the manufacturing industry. One of them is reducing the number of public holidays.

The FOI also proposed a reduction in income tax and new incentives which should help the Maltese workers save more money.

The Federation believes EneMalta Corporation should take the responsibility and compensate the industry when there is an electricity failure or any problems related to electricity voltage. The FOI said that its proposals should help the local manufacture industry to move forward.

The FOI urged the government to introduce new incentives for the industry to conduct the necessary research. It added that VAT refunds should be handed to the industry in a more efficient manner.

Alternattiva Demokratika

Alternattiva Demokratika-the Green Party believes that there should be less taxes on income and economic inititiative. On the other hand, it said that taxation on activities and products harming the environment and wasting our limited resources should be increased. Therefore AD is calling on the government to make a shift in its fiscal policy.

Other proposals include:

1. A public/private partnership aimed at setting up day care centres forchildren whose parents work. This measure will enable more women to participate in the economy.

2. A national campaign to address the digital divide to ensure to ensure universal access to the world wide net which is a valuable tool for everyone in a modern society.

3. The removal of anomalies in our pension system and clear guidelines for a pension reform through which a national pension fund, administrated by the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development and a professional management would be set up. Pensioners should enjoy full compensation for cost of living increases.

These proposals form part of The Green Party's manifesto which contains 445 responsible and creative proposals. After the next elections, AD will use its voice in parliament to give a breath of fresh air to the Maltese economy.

General Retailers and Traders Union

The General Retailers' and Traders' Union (GRTU) presented its budget proposals to Finance Minister John Dalli. The government is expected to present its 2003 budget in Parliament either on November 20th or 27th.

The GRTU believes it is time for the government to assist small businesses. The union believes last year's budget failed to address the needs of this sector. The GRTU wants the next budget, the last of the current legislature, to give a fresh push to small businesses. "The government should introduce new incentives to encourage small businesses to invest and enlarge production," the GRTU said.

The union urged the government to take good care of tour operators who bring tourists to Malta for considerable number of days. For this reason, the GRTU proposed a decrease in charges and other payments for tour operators whose clients spend in Malta more than the established minimum-holiday. The government should also ask the Malta International Airport to guarantee that there won't be any change in tour operators' charges for the coming three years, the GRTU suggested.

In the chapter dealing with VAT, the GRTU said there is room for important modifications in Malta's taxation system as it feels VAT discriminates with some business sectors. The GRTU also proposed that refunds should be handed to businessmen in 30 days.

The union believes the government should reduce the price of petrol and diesel when the same prices increase in international markets. This would bring about more stability in the local business sector, the GRTU said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister John Dalli has already met the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) on October 7th and discussed the upcoming government's budget. The MCESD has also handed its proposals.

Mr Dalli said the government is very optimistic to reach its deficit-reduction target in time. In the 2002 budget Minister Dalli had projected a deficit of Lm77 million for this year. He said the upcoming budget will keep on moving with the government's program to strengthen Malta's economy.

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