Those senior citizens over the age of 62 who did not manage to apply for Government bonds after they were all taken up on the first day of issue, will be given an opportunity to apply again after the Cabinet approved another €30 million to be issued in a new offer in the Government scheme known as 62+ Savings Bond.
This was announced by the Finance Minister Edward Scicluna when he was replying to questions from the public during a consultation meeting, prior to the presentation of the Budget on 9 October. Professor Scicluna said that the Government took the decision after last week this scheme was quickly taken up by all those who were born in 1955 or earlier, who had the chance to invest a minimum of €500 and up to a maximum of €10,000, at an interest rate of 3% a year which is paid twice yearly.
Meanwhile, members of the public have proposed that the Government should give more incentives to those who wish to invest in electric bikes. Minister Scicluna agreed with this proposal because he said that these type of bikes do not pollute and they help to ease traffic congestion. Prof Scicluna said that, unfortunately, in our country, we do not have a culture of bike-riding and do not respect those who are on bikes. He said that the Finance Ministry has spoken with Transport Malta, however he said that they have to be the ones to come up with ideas. He added that if we keep loving our cars so much, the problems will get worse. He said that the questions which need to be asked are: are we ready to use a bus? Are we ready to ride a bike?
Speaking about vacation leave when a public holiday falls on the weekend, the Minister said that it is possible to give this day back to employees. Another question was about rubbish and that there should be more prevention, and he suggested that plastic bags and bottles should be banned once and for all. A member of the public also brought up the subject of water, pointing out that Malta has good quality water so we should educate everyone, including tourists, to drink tap water.
Minister Scicluna said this was the first budget which is being put together at a time when the country has a surplus. He said that economic growth is leaving more income in people’s pockets and added that while the country still has some obstacles to overcome, the economy is strong, and that in this Budget, the Government will be focussing on infrastructure.
Turning to the issue of the rental market, Minister Scicluna said that the problem is not so great since 86% of the population owns their own home. He said that he was more worried about interest rates on home loans. He said that rent in other countries is much higher than in Malta and increases from one year to the next. He said that this phenomeon is new for Malta because young people have now started to live on their own. He added that the trend of couples living together and marital separations have also increased. He said that the problem is that we are in a space where Maltese people are competing with non-Maltese who come to work here and who want to rent, and they are pushing up the cost of renting.