Pensions, toiletries, construction materials and traffic – varying reactions to Budget 2017
The introduction of the excise duty on toiletries and detergents and the government’s failure to combat the traffic situation in the Budget 2017 was criticised by members of the public, but they also praised its ability to tackle issues concerning low-wage earners and pensioners in a vox pop conducted by The Malta Independent in Valletta.
A majority of people that spoke to The Malta Independent praised the budget for providing for those who are in need and vulnerable. A bulk of pensioners seemed to find no fault with a budget that was favourable to their demographic. A woman said that it was a budget that showed that the economic prosperity had to be shared with everyone.
One man remarked that he had “never seen a budget like this”. The same man did however say that he was disappointed that the government neglected solving the traffic problem, but also said that this was a longstanding problem that had not been dealt with, and the annual increase of cars on the road has only worsened the situation.
A man however complained that while the budget is favourable toward those in need, he feels that, in his respect, expenses have only increased. In spite of being a hardworking contributor to society he will now need to pay higher taxes due to increased pensions.
Two women placed particular disdain on the introduction of an excise duty on toiletries and other household items. The budget, one of the women claimed, does not benefit it her at all, going as far to say that “it took more than it gave”. The proposal, she said, would impact her daily expenses whilst the other woman remarked that it would mean that a majority of housewives would not be able to spend their money on other activities.
The concern with the excise duty on toiletries was echoed by a number of other people, with one man saying that for him the budget was “nothing, it’s probably a bit bad for myself, since the price of daily household items has increased”.
One of the women also criticised the extension of the firsttime buyers scheme and the tax on construction material. This, like before, will only increase prices in the already expensive property market, which is already a massive burden on the incomes of the younger generation. She went on to say that government should have instead focused on reducing the traffic problem, which has gotten out of control.
Both of them seemed to agree that the budget would only be detrimental to smaller businesses. A man also felt that the government did not deal with the most important issues facing the country at the moment, placing particular interest on Air Malta. The man said that he fears that Malta’s national airline would fail without proper government intervention. Currently, the negotiations between Air Malta and Alitalia seemed to have stalled with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat saying multiple times that he is willing to “pull the plug” on the deal.