Budget 2014 to include utility tariffs reduction for families as from next March.
The government "is not going to defend the status quo" existent in the public service and will not act as "a defender of the establishment", Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told members of the GRTU executive council.
He also insisted all business operating in Malta, whether local or foreign, should compete on a level-playing field, where foreign companies respect the same tax regime local companies do.
Muscat, flanked by finance minister Edward Scicluna, economy minister Chris Cardona, parliamentary secretary for competitiveness Edward Zammit Lewis, environment minister Leo Brincat and energy minister Konrad Mizzi, met the GRTU officials at Castille.
Muscat heard GRTU president Paul Abela lament over the hurdles self-employed continue to face whenever they come into contact with the public services. Abela also complained over MCESD's inertia to start discussing the budget for 2014 and the excessive deficit procedure that Malta faces.
"I have not become a defender of the establishment and I agree that a culture change is needed in the civil service. It's true that at times the civil service fails to appreciate the hours self-employed spend in running around if they need a government service," Muscat said.
The Prime Minister also reassured small businesses that a level-playing field would be created and local and foreign companies would enjoy fair competition.
To be included in Budget 2014, Muscat said foreign companies operating in Malta must pay the same regime tax as locals do.
"If the Maltese are paying an eco-tax, than the foreign companies must do the same," he said, insisting foreign companies had found "ways and loopholes" how to evade certain taxes.
The government was currently undergoing preparations for the budget, with the next phase being the presentation of the pre-budget document. The government was aiming for a different pre-budget document, more similar to a green paper.
Muscat confirmed the budget would include the utility tariff reductions for family. "This would leave consumers with more disposable income," he reassured retailers.
Adamant that government will meet its target of bringing down the country's deficit to under 3% of GDP, the Prime Minister said the budget will also provide new opportunities for the private sector.
"The expressions of interest we have issued so far were to test the waters and the feedback from the private was extremely positive," he said.
Government also intends to bridge the gap between unemployment and vacancies: while workers were seeking jobs, employers were seeking skilled workers, especially in manufacturing.
The government is now planning to introduce an employability index by which a student would be informed of the chances of finding a job in a particular sector before enrolling in a course.