10 JULY 2002

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MLP non committal on VAT after Mifsud saga

By Kurt Sansone

Muddy waters still characterise the Labour Party’s position on VAT, with the secretary general promising only that a decision will be taken "at the appropriate time before the next general election by means of a decision taken at a general conference."

Labour Party Secretary General Jimmy Magro, answering questions put to him by The Malta Financial and Business Times, said that the party will continue to assess the economic situation and hold consultations with the interested bodies. When asked whether the party was pegging its decision on the outcome of government’s negotiations with the EU, Mr Magro said that the decision will be "based on the national interest."

The VAT issue came to the fore again this week after prospective Labour candidate Alfred Mifsud declared that he was ready to withdraw his electoral candidature if the party pledged to remove VAT in its electoral manifesto.

In an interview with our sister newspaper MaltaToday in December last year Alfred Mifsud said that he would press hard for the MLP to retain VAT because the country could not afford another tax change. "It could be adjusted by introducing different bands," Mr Mifsud had suggested with no hint that his candidature with the Labour Party was conditional on the party retaining the VAT system.

The Malta Financial and Business Times asked Jimmy Magro for his reaction to Mr Mifsud’s condition. "Alfred Mifsud made no condition when he applied to join as an MLP candidate," Mr Magro said. In no unclear terms the secretary general stressed that the Labour Party "has never accepted conditions from persons applying as a candidate to contest the general and local elections."

The VAT ‘remove-retain’ debate had already claimed the scalp of former Labour finance minister Lino Spiteri, in 1997 and presumably not wanting to find himself in the same awkward position, Alfred Mifsud has opted to lay his cards on the table. After the demise of the Labour government Lino Spiteri had written that the decision by the Labour Party to campaign against VAT when it was introduced in 1995, was lumped on him by Alfred Sant. Mr Spiteri even claimed that he got to know about the Labour Party’s stand to remove VAT from the media.

 

 



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Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
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