The recent Budget, announced by Minister Edward Scicluna was promoted as one which will take nothing away from the people. There was a time when Budgets were thought of as similar to horror movies, however, recent ones have been well received. The 2020 Budget focused mostly on those who are vulnerable from a social class point of view and have low incomes. The Government has also announced measures aimed at helping low-income families to buy their own homes.
The 2020 Budget will undoubtedly leave a positive influence on those willing to buy a property. First-time buyers will now benefit from the stamp duty exemption extended over the first 175,000 Euro, hence sparing a total of 6,500 Euro in tax. A significant amount for most first-time buyers!
A new initiative which was announced is the interest-free loan of up to 17,500 Euro for low-income earners to cover their deposit requirements. Applicants need to be under the age of forty. The scheme to restore the facades of old houses will also be extended.
Parents will also benefit from this Budget programme. One of the most popular measures is that a grant of 300 Euro will be given to parents for every born or adopted child. Those parents who leave work to take care of a very sick child will be given eight years’ worth of National Insurance contributions. Those widows or widowers who keep on working will continue to receive a ten Euro weekly children’s allowance. Parents will also continue to benefit from free school transport to all students.
Employees will also be glad to hear that they will be getting an extra day of leave in 2020. For those who have an income of less than 20,000 Euro, and work overtime, a reduced rate of fifteen per cent will apply on the first one hundred hours. Tax rebates will be given to those earning less than 60,000 Euro whilst incentives on private pensions will also be maintained. The cost of living allowance will be that of 3.49 Euro per week.
The Budget programme also addresses those who are self-employed. Those who opt to replace old machinery with new models which are less polluting can benefit from a subsidy of up to two hundred thousand Euro. The Government will also extend incentives and schemes for start-up companies.
The programme also addresses those who may be physically impaired. Those suffering from cancer will have three days of sick leave covered by the Government. Those who cannot work due to disability will get a hundred and sixty-one Euro per week.
The budget programme promises a fifteen percent withholding tax on promise of sale agreements which will apply for the first 100,000 Euro, replacing the current thirty-five percent tax rate.
Those seeking to invest in photovoltaic panels will be given a grant of up to one thousand Euro to purchase a battery to store generated energy.
In terms of public transport, one of the noteworthy points is that those over seventy-five years of age can now use it for free. For the elderly, there will be a 3.51 Euro increase in pensions. More aid will be given to those who are over sixty-five and at risk of poverty. From one hundred Euro per year, this will be extended to one hundred and fifty Euro. An additional fifty Euro per year will be given to those who are over eighty years of age and are living live in their own home. Those elderly citizens who need to shoulder their own retirement home costs will be given three hundred Euro yearly.
Government also indicates its commitment to promote activity in Gozo by incentivising those who hold conferences, meetings and events, together with tax benefits for those companies who will base their operations there. An investment of ten million Euro is allocated for roads and the fourth ferry will be made permanent.
In this Budget, there have also been a number of interesting developments for students such as the grant of eight hundred and fifty Euro to learn a foreign language. VAT will also be covered by Government for distance learning courses or vocational training.
To herald in the new era of electric cars, Government has also stated that those who charge their cars at home will pay less in electricity tariffs.
A one-off payment of 35 Euro to families will be made to compensate for bread and milk prices which have increased recently.
The Nationalist party has highlighted that this Budget programme does not address the existing problems created by Government, whilst Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated that this is not his last Budget. What are your views? Let us know in the comments section.