Malta’s 2023 Budget and Inflation

Malta's 2023 Budget and Inflation

In an address to the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) ahead of next year’s budget, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana reassured the public that despite ongoing inflation challenges, the government is committed to delivering an expansive budget. Caruana emphasized the need to navigate external pressures and outlined several factors influencing Malta’s fiscal policies.

One of the prominent external factors Caruana pointed out is the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted global supply chains. These disruptions have resulted in a surge in oil prices and an inflation rate that remains well above the usual 2% target.

Caruana underscored that the persistent high inflation rate is a key driver behind the expectation of continued high international interest rates and relatively modest economic growth across the European Union (EU). This situation has prompted the EU to revisit its “general escape clause,” particularly for member states with debt levels exceeding 60% of their GDP and deficits exceeding 3% of GDP.

Regarding the EU’s general escape clause, Caruana revealed that discussions among EU finance ministers are ongoing. He explained that once the clause is agreed upon, member states entering excessive deficit procedures will have either four or seven years to return to compliance with the established thresholds, depending on the specific circumstances. During this period, the European Commission will provide guidance on necessary adjustments.

Caruana emphasized Malta’s commitment to maintaining a deficit of 5%, aligning with EU rules to avoid entering excessive deficit procedures. Despite this, he stressed that the government’s objective remains an expansive budget, wherein the government injects more funds into the economy than it collects in revenue. Striking this balance is crucial to ensure economic growth while adhering to EU thresholds.

Recognizing the impact of government spending on inflation, Caruana highlighted the importance of managing the budget responsibly in the interest of both employees and employers. He acknowledged the delicate task of stimulating economic growth while containing inflationary pressures.

In conclusion, Caruana affirmed the government’s commitment to keeping Malta’s debt below the 60% threshold, demonstrating its dedication to responsible fiscal management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an “expansive budget,” and why is it important?
An expansive budget refers to a government budget where spending exceeds revenue, resulting in a net injection of funds into the economy. It is important as it can stimulate economic growth by increasing public spending and investment in various sectors.

How does inflation impact the economy and budget planning?
Inflation affects the purchasing power of a currency, leading to rising prices and reduced real income for consumers. It can also impact budget planning by influencing interest rates and the cost of borrowing, which in turn affect government spending and debt management.

What is the “general escape clause” in the EU, and why is it relevant to member states?
The “general escape clause” in the EU allows member states to deviate from established fiscal rules in exceptional circumstances, such as economic crises. It provides flexibility for countries facing economic challenges, but they must eventually return to compliance with fiscal thresholds.

Why is it crucial for Malta to align with EU fiscal rules?
Malta, as an EU member state, is required to adhere to EU fiscal rules to maintain financial stability and avoid penalties. Failure to comply with these rules can result in excessive deficit procedures and potential sanctions.

How does government spending contribute to inflation, and why is it a consideration in budget planning?
Government spending can boost demand in the economy, potentially leading to higher prices for goods and services, thereby contributing to inflation. Budget planners need to strike a balance between stimulating economic growth and managing inflationary pressures when crafting fiscal policies.


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