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NEWS | Sunday, 10 February 2008

Gonzi: No plans to make up for promised tax cuts

Julia Farrugia

The past is no guarantee of the future, financial intermediaries say, but Lawrence Gonzi believes otherwise as he banks on his administration’s recent economic recovery to make up for the shortfall in revenue that would accompany his proposed tax cuts.
Asked by MaltaToday yesterday how his party estimated that widening tax bands would cost the nation €46 million, Gonzi said he calculated that the economy will continue growing and will be generating “the necessary income” in the next two years.
“When Bonello De Puis was Finance Minister and lowered tax bands from 65 per cent to 35 per cent, our income increased by more than 12 per cent,” he said referring to more than a decade ago.
“Likewise when John Dalli was Finance Minister and lowered the tax bands, we had our income increased by eight or nine per cent,” Gonzi added. “The same thing happened in 2006, when our income increased by 11 per cent.”
As the prime minister was touring shops in Qormi yesterday morning, an assembly of housewives singing PN slogans greeted him in Victory Street. One of them grabbed him and wept on his chest as he comforted her.
Accompanying him was PN candidate Clyde Puli and John Dalli, the PN’s strongest link in Qormi and Gonzi’s newly appointed advisor.
“Do the Qormi people always behave like this?” Gonzi asked them jokingly.
Every time he got out of a shop, the female entourage hurled digs at the Labour Party.
“God forbid we’d have a Labour government,” yelled one red-haired woman who took the role of cheerleader. “They want to pay overtime at the normal hourly rate.”
Gonzi braved through his die-hards as he talked with vegetable vendors and shop owners.
But despite Gonzi’s casual stroll, only a couple of journalists were allowed to ask questions. So controlled was the event, that Joe Saliba even rapped Gonzi as they entered a confectionary and was mesmerised by the aroma of fresh bread.
He was about to grab a bite when a worker offered him sesame ring-cakes (qagħak).
“Heed my words, leave it there,” Saliba told him, clearly panicking at the sight of One TV cameras ready to shoot the Prime Minister munching in footage that would have persecuted him for the rest of the campaign. Gonzi was dumbstruck.
“We’ll wrap it in a bag and take it home with us,” Saliba told him.
“Look how they’ve reduced me. I can’t even have a ring-cake,” Gonzi quipped jokingly.



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