During the last few years, any analysis of the country’s recent economic performance has become a painstaking and unhappy exercise. Understanding the Gonzi government’s interpretation of these financial statistics is improbable and most impossible. A simple comparison between what GonziPN had said and what it now says is a clear indication that even Tonio Fenech cannot give a decent explanation.
The data published by the National statistics Office, at the end of August, shows a most unhealthy financial position. Despite several warnings by the Labour Party, the Central Bank of Malta and by contributors in practically all the sections of the media, the Gonzi government continues to manage badly. The Minister either does not want to read the obvious or he does not know what these figures mean.
Some PN stalwarts maintain that the country should give the Gonzi government time, since his budgets are for a whole year and not for parts thereof. But the country does not have time, the financial situation is deteriorating rapidly and GonziPN is leading the country to ruin. Our deficit has been increasing steadily and so is the country’s debt. Malta is officially in a recession. The cost of living is getting higher and the standard of living lower. GonziPN needs to start listening to the advice that has been readily available and take some remedial measures before it is too late for Malta and the Maltese.
In fear of being repetitive, a line by line analysis would be boring and heartbreaking. However, certain figures stand out from the NSO news release. The shortfall in this period amounted to €333 million, an increase of € 95 million over the corresponding period last year. Whilst revenue was higher than that of last year, this was primarily due to an increase in the collection of taxes (VAT and Income Tax) by approximately € 87 million over Jan-July 2011. The total increase in revenue was around 5% over that of last year.
This money and a lot more besides was well catered for. The government expenditure in this period rose to a staggering € 1.7 billion; a 10.7% increase over the corresponding period of 2011. One wonders if this could be the sign of an election year!!
More importantly, it seems that none of the € 690 million collected through people’s taxes has been used to reduce National debt. In this same period, the National debt stands at € 4.81 billion, an increase of € 391.7 million or 8.9% of the debt, according to NSO statistics.
There are serious deficiencies in the Ministry of Finance. Nevertheless, the Minister, in an attempt to justify government inefficiencies, claims that GonziPN is right and everyone else is wrong. He resorts to self-contradictory statements that belie the financial situation and that keep causing untold harm to the reputation of our islands.
The writing is on the wall. Yet, the Gonzi government pretends that all is well and keeps spending public funds as if there were no tomorrow. Although there might be no tomorrow for this financial mismanagement, the Gonzi government should start the process of balancing the budget now. Accountability is not time barred.