The government spent €191 million more in March than during the equivalent month in 2021, the National Statistics Office said on Friday. This added expenditure came during the same month as the general elections that returned Labour to power for the next five years.
According to the NSO statistics, the government spent a total of €641 million last month compared to €450 million in March 2021.
According to the statistics office, the largest increase in the country’s spending last month was related to ‘programmes and initiatives – a diplomatic term used by the statistics office to describe the cheques distributed to the electorate just a week before the election.
The government’s vote-buying initiative has cost a total of €74 million in both ‘economic stimulus’ and ‘tax refunds’ cheques, according to the NSO. The money pumped into people’s pockets on the eve of the polls was funded by additional borrowing by the government.
In fact, according to the NSO, although the economy is clearly recovering and less money is being spent on the pandemic, the government increased its debt by almost €400 million during the first three months of the year, reaching a record €8.5 billion by the end of last month.
At the same time, although the annual deficit is being slowly reduced thanks to more income tax and VAT revenue, the government is still spending like there’s no tomorrow, with the deficit still at record highs.
Earlier this week, The Shift reported that last year, Malta recorded the highest deficit among the EU Member States.
Apart from an EU warning that the situation is unsustainable in the medium to long term, Central Bank Governor, disgraced former finance minister Edward Scicluna, cautioned about the need for the administration not to lose sight of the growing deficit that increased during his term in office to new levels now.
In the meantime, the government’s spending frenzy appears unabated and it’s declared that it will be pumping millions of euros into Enemalta to help it keep to current electricity prices despite the fuel crisis affecting the whole of Europe. Additional millions are being spent to keep fuel pump prices at current levels.