Election round-up – week 2
Standard and Poor’s long-term credit downgrade caught Malta by surprise early on in the week, bringing the issue of National debt to the forefront. The Nationalist Party held a press conference on Wednesday, where they blamed the PL’s budget ‘no vote’ as well as their Enemalta plans for this problem.
PL quickly shot back saying that it was the PN’s handling of Enemalta as well as the debt of the private sector which really caused S&P to come to this conclusion. This topic became a persistent ‘hot potato’ which was brought up on a daily basis and was given a significant time-slot in Friday’s debate between Joseph Muscat and Lawrence Gonzi.
Joseph Muscat presented a number of proposals this week, centred on reducing corruption within Parliament, the need to reduce bureaucracy as well as taking attendance of MP’s. He also expressed that SmartCity will be taken under Labour’s wing should they be elected. In addition the PL announced a new withholding tax on property which would replace the current 35% income tax from rent.
The Labour Party proposed free childcare for all Maltese citizens, with the PN claiming that it has already been heading down this road. Dr Gonzi spoke on the importance of healthcare and the need to expand facilities and services offered to the elderly. Later in the week, he said that they will unveil proposals which will reduce the National deficit by 2015.
It wasn’t all back and forth arguments however as Dr Gonzi and Dr Muscat found common ground in the financial services sector, which both agree is booming and that no change is needed. The third political party, AD, proposed that Judges be selected through a process involving the President and Parliament.
The Energy debate is far from over. Still the main focal point for both camps, the PN claim that the PL’s plan would result in a 5% tax rise rather than the 25% drop in taxes which the PL have been arguing. This was announced through the KPMG (A private firm hired by the PN through Enemalta) to produce a report on the possibility of the plans. Labour quickly denounced the report, expressing that the numbers given to the private firm were wrong, which is why they arrived at a different conclusion.
The PN brought in a foreign expert named Miles A Seaman, who said that the project would take six years to complete. In response, the PL revealed that the same expert explained that gas is better than oil. AD stated in Friday night's debate, that a project of this magnitude needs to be handled properly and must include numerous studies, which take time.
The PL pulled out of the March 1 Xarabank debate, due to certain guidelines the PL proposed not being accepted. The PN have called Labour cowards who do not want to face criticism. In addition
The AD manifesto was approved, which includes proposals for gay marriage.