19 May 2004

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Business and finance: The PN, MLP and AD manifestos for EP 2004 compared

The MLP and AD have published their European Parliament election manifestos while the PN has not presented its own yet. While the MLP and AD’s manifesto is based on their partners in Europe, the PN’s will be an adaptation to Malta’s circumstances of that of the European People’s Party.

Nationalist Party
– European People’s Party
The EPP is pushing to combine the powerful forces of private competition, the opportunities of a more flexible society and the positive aspects of social and regional cohesion.
Lower taxation
A high level of taxation is a serious handicap for the creation of wealth because it discourages private initiatives, stifles innovative investments and dampens the engagement of new labour forces. As a first priority, the EPP will recommend a reduction of the general taxation level, which is much higher in Europe than in the world and particularly in East Asia.
On the EU level, the EPP will work for reasonable co-ordination of indirect taxation and tax bases, while leaving taxes not relevant for the single market to the discretion of the Member States.
The EPP will defend the adoption of a definitive VAT system based on the “the country of origin” principle and will oppose the Commission’s new approach aimed solely at improving the interim system.

Improvement of regulatory
environment for businesses
The EPP wants to provide European business with an environment that facilities economic activity and enables it to face competition in the global economy. This includes the elimination of those subsidies and regulatory arrangements that create distortions in the markets and discourages private initiatives; minimise red tape and excessive administrative requirements; and guarantees proper access to financing for SMEs.

Priority on research and
The EPP says Europe’s main weakness lies, on one hand in the fragmentation and scattering of its efforts and on the other hand in the difficulty to go from the stage of research to that of industrial innovation. Here is one area where the European Union can undoubtedly add value, by co-ordinating programmes to avoid redundancy, ensuring collaboration between research centres to increase specialisation, encouraging the movement of knowledge and researchers, ensuring co-operation between industry, researchers and educational establishments throughout the Union.

Lowering costs
The EPP favours the completion of a strong pan-European capital market to reduce costs for business capital in a rapidly changing financial environment: this area requires specific attention, because of the liberalisation of financial markets must go hand in hand with the protection and adequate information of investors, particularly small ones.

The Malta Labour Party
– Party of European Socialists
Integral to their campaign for the European Parliament, the MLP has bridged its European divide with the Party of European Socialists, to join in the campaign theme of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs.’
As European Socialists, the MLP vows to create work in tandem with a full social integration of less advantaged groups into the labour market. The target is a combined effort with the PES to reach an agreement on a European level on basic work conditions and for large corporations to take on social responsibilities, and to add more pressure on ensuring better health and safety conditions in the workplace.
Priorities in this regard include:
- Promotion of economic growth, job creation and economic stability;
- Increase in public and private investments through the use of public-private partnerships in education and training, lifelong learning, research, environment, information-technology, telecommunications, energy and transport;
- Removal of taxes which distort market rules and disrupt private initiative;
- More social responsibility within the private sector;
- Greater participation in economic decisions taken in Europe, with the greater involvement of national parliaments and greater co-ordination by the European Parliament.
The MLP has also pledged a guarantee that state pensions will be maintained sustainable and universal, and that it will support serious supplementary pensions schemes.
Additionally, the MLP will work for more foreign investment to be brought over in the Maltese sectors of manufacturing and financial services; a more competitive tourism product; guarantee a future for factory workers and drydocks workers facing restructuring within their workplace; supporting farmers and fishermen, who will be facing critical challenges in the new European reality.

Alternattiva Demokratika
– European Green Party
The electoral programme for Alternattiva Demokratika’s campaign for the European Parliament elections is built on the three-point ‘Work, Environment, Democracy’ programme, which bridges together the demands of the economy with environmental sustainability.
Leading in from the problems posed by globalisation, AD are calling for more inventive and dynamic strategy for the creation of work and the attraction of foreign investment into Malta. This in turn is supported by giving priority to education and training within the European institutions, and to safeguard the producing classes.
On taxation, AD supports a decrease in taxation on labour-intensive services and employers in order to generate more employment. In tandem with the polluter-pays principle, the burden of taxation is shifted onto large polluters. Tax has to be more just and addressed to polluters which endanger people’s health, whilst less tax should be levied on income.
The Green Party’s economic policy in Europe is being promoted as one which has to be sustainable, pushing for a reduction of wastage, an incentive for the creation of employment, and one which leaves more disposable income in peoples’ hands.
Cassola has also pledged to push Altrnattiva Demokratika’s proposals for deficit and debt reduction, as well as rent law reform, and income tax revision.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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