25 November 2004

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Labour leader says taxes would increase by 8.4 per cent

Reacting to yesterday evening’s Budget speech, Opposition Leader Alfred Sant said that taxes as outlined in the Budget would increase by 8.4 per cent, adding that Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had, in drawing up Budget 2005, had simply followed in the footsteps of the Fenech Adami and the Dalli government.
“We cannot go on like this. The figures are simply not credible. We will be looking at the impact of the Budget on the working class and pensioners,” Sant warned, speaking at the same time that the Prime Minister was delivering his own live press conference.
Dr Sant talked down a journalist who questioned Labour policies and its unpopular measures to increase tariffs for electricity and water. He reminded the press that the government had promised not to place a surcharge on water.
He reiterated Enemalta has ended up purchasing fuel at elevated price levels, when it could have done otherwise.
Strangely, deviating from the Budget focus, he suggested that the gradual devaluation of the Maltese lira should take place as had been suggested in a report by economist Profs. Edward Scicluna.
The leader of the Opposition had little in the way of analysis about the budget and fell short of ruling out the probability of mass demonstrations over its measures.
He said that he had never expected taxes to increase by a staggering 8.4 per cent, adding that the government is simply trying to find new ways of raising revenue.
“Our competition index is spiralling down, we cannot go on like this.”
He rubbished the labelling of the Gonzi government as a new Spring.
“I would rather call it the autumn of the Patriarch.”
Deviating once again, he pinpointed to the lack of thorough information on the various authorities. “We do not even know what the accounts of MIMCOL are.”
He ended by suggesting that if Dr Gonzi resigned they (Labour) would be ready to take over.

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