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Abela: We will continue to shield the economy from shock energy prices

Government subsidised energy prices are set to remain in place, with Prime Minister Robert Abela pledging to “shield the economy” from “shock” prices on Wednesday. 

Speaking at the EY Malta "Future Realised" conference, less than a week before announcing the country’s annual budget on Monday, Abela said that the government’s top objectives support both the economy and the most socially vulnerable. 

In comments to Times of Malta, Abela confirmed plans to raise the national minimum wage will be announced in the coming days and said that the budget will include several social support measures aimed at supporting those in lower income brackets. 

He also said that through its financial plans for the coming year, the government will work to preserve fiscal sustainability by reducing the country’s deficit by 0.5% annually to a 3% deficit target, while keeping the debt ratio below 60%. 

Strengthening the economy, he said, will come through investing in having an adequate supply of skills, knowledge, manpower and capital to grow the economy sustainably. 

“In this, we believe facilitating the green economy and digital transitions is key,” Abela said.

“These two transitions are the biggest economic opportunities for our generation to build a new prosperity. We need to work together to change the ways we work and develop better ones.”

He also assured businesses that tax reform will not be a hindrance but an opportunity for more targeted incentives in physical and human capital. 

“Rest assured that with the reforms that we will be conducting, you will still feel the same – or possibly better, making it competitive within a modern-day global economic reality,” he said. 

Bernard Grech. Photo: Jonathan BorgBernard Grech. Photo: Jonathan Borg

PN ready to restore integrity and economic renewal - Bernard Grech 

Addressing the conference, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said that the Nationalist Party is ready to lead the country out of its current crossroads with a pledge to restore integrity and economic renewal. 

No stone will be left unturned in the fight against corruption under his watch, Grech said and pledged that the country would no longer need to rely on “excessive foreign labour” to prosper economically. 

The PN has a plan to implement a rigorous system to monitor and control active work permits and ensure that they are granted only in response to specific skill shortages.

Elaborating further on its economic vision, Grech said that the party would get to work on restoring ‘Brand Malta’ as both a beloved tourist destination and a thriving and trustworthy business-friendly environment in the EU. 

This includes fostering a genuine start-up culture through strategic investment to connect young talent with promising opportunities. 

Grech also pledged that the country’s mature business industry verticals, such as igaming, maritime, aviation, financial services, fintech and others will be given serious attention through extensive consultation. This will lead to the definition of a plan to strengthen these industries and sustain them through re-invention. 

As a government, he continued, the PN will strive to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders to forge ahead with a policy that benefits the common good. 

“To achieve this, we recognise and embrace our role, the role of the facilitator who is responsible for managing the process without influencing the content,” he said.

“Content must be determined and influenced by industry experts. Our role as a facilitator can be compared to that of a pathfinder, a shepherd, a guide and a catalyst.”

Roberta Metsola. Photo: EYRoberta Metsola. Photo: EY

Connectivity key to Malta’s growth - Metsola 

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, who addressed the conference via video message, said that connectivity is key to keeping Malta competitive. 

As the world goes through rapid changes, she said that Malta and Europe must find ways to remain competitive by asking how higher-value jobs that offer a dignified future can be created and how the digital and green transition can make things easier for companies to innovate. 

This can only be found in real and sustainable economic growth. 

“In the digital realm, no country is an island. So with Europe in the driving seat of AI innovation, nothing should stop us from serving as a poster child for years to come,” she said. 

She added that solving the country’s most pressing issues comes down to infrastructural investment and political will. 

“We need to recommit ourselves to the fact that quality matters. Mediocrity has no place in our strategy for the future. Credibility is the cornerstone for a strong economy and a reliable country - a trusted partner - on the global stage. Excellence must remain the only acceptable standard,” she said.