Government to borrow another €1.2 billion as forecasts go haywire

The government is planning to borrow at least €1.2 billion this year according to its own estimates, pushing further debt levels that already reached unprecedented levels in 2021.

According to an official announcement made by the Treasury, “the central government borrowing requirements for the financial year 2022 has been set not to exceed €1.2 billion. This amount will be raised through the issuance of Malta Government Stocks of more than one year”.

The Treasury’s projections are very conservative and the borrowing will probably have to be much higher to keep up with the country’s spiralling deficit, experts have told The Shift.

The additional borrowing of €1.2 billion necessary to cover the bills for this year assumes that Malta will register a deficit of €737 million by the end of December, with the rest of the funds necessary to redeem past borrowing.

Yet with an economy struggling to gather pace and a government in full election mode, spending millions of euro in questionable contracts amid accusations of clientelism and nepotism, the situation might end up worse than predicted by the end of the year.

Missing targets, ballooning deficit

In a similar announcement last year, the Treasury had said that the government was planning to borrow some €1.1 billion in 2021, covering a deficit of €756 million. Provisional government data shows these targets were completely missed and the government had to increase its borrowing.

NSO data until last November shows that in the first 11 months of 2021, the government’s real deficit was more than twice that forecasted, reaching a staggering €1.4 billion. The government had to find the necessary financing of this deficit through the issue of more loans.

NSO data also shows that by the end of last November, the island’s debt levels soared to more than €8 billion, a record in recent history.

Official figures show that while Malta was registering a small surplus until 2018, the country has registered multi-billion-euro deficits since Robert Abela took over the reins of government, with the debt increasing by €3 billion in less than 2 years.

Austerity around the corner

As Malta heads to the polls in the coming weeks, pressure is increasing, particularly from EU quarters, for the island to restrain its spending and put its finances on a sustainable trajectory.

Yet, so far, the government has ignored these messages, as it seeks to retain its popularity in the lead up to general elections.

Government sources told The Shift that if the economy continues to underperform, Abela will have no other option but to introduce severe austerity measures soon after the elections.

Last week, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana sent his first signal, warning the business community that their days of avoiding tax will soon be over.

                           
                               
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saviour mamo
saviour mamo
3 months ago

The only guarantee that this government of Robert Abela can give, is the rise in the national debt.

carmel ellul
carmel ellul
3 months ago

Seems borrowing from the banks or the IMF is not on the books. The lenders have closed their doors. So borrowing from the locals to pay the same locals from their own money is the way forward. It is like the employer borrows from his employees to pay their wages. Is this a different version of a pyramid scheme? Can the economists clarify?

I. Gatt
I. Gatt
3 months ago

Austerity measures will only be forced onto the minnows at the bottom of the food chain. Those with salaries of Eur163k plus will not flick an eyelid!

Osservatoremt
Osservatoremt
3 months ago

Ironically, there are whole classes of taxpayers who are not. The medical professions are one such class. Try getting any form of receipt and of course, the cash payments they receive go undeclared. Several other classes of taxpayers who avoid VAT and tax such as the construction sector. The burden lies fairly on salaried employees who declare all their income at source. Agreed that tax cheats and those delaying payments of government funds should be penalised, but why certain caveats exist is truly beyond me. Oh, and if the tax man went after unexplained wealth for all and sundry including politicians amongst others, our coffers would literally overflow with proceeds from ex officio assessments and back penalties.

Iain Morrison
Iain Morrison
3 months ago

If anyone was stupid enough to buy Maltese bonds then more fool them. This government is hardly botheted about paying it back. A default seems likely followed by lots of whataboutism re Argentina, Venezuela etc.
My money will stay in my biscuit tin thank you!

Teresa
Teresa
3 months ago

Dawn minn min se jithallsu lura?

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