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MALTATODAY 10 October 2021

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 10 OCTOBER 2021 NEWS Thank you... for having bought this newspaper mt The good news is that we're not raising the price of our newspaper We know times are still hard, but we have pledged to keep giving our readers quality news they deserve, without making you pay more for it. So thank you, for making it your MaltaToday Support your favourite newspaper with a special offer on online PDF subscriptions. Visit or scan the QR code Subscriptions can be done online on Same-day delivery at €1 for orders up to 5 newspapers per address. Subscribe from €1.15 a week Same-day print delivery from Miller Distributors ROBERT Abela has a tight window to call a general election in Novem- ber and if he does, it will mean an incomplete budget process. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana will present Budget 2022 tomor- row. Opposition leader Bernard Grech will deliver his reaction on 18 Oc- tober and the day after, Abela will give his speech and parliament will be asked to vote on the budget. However, between 20 October and 15 November, parliament will be holding two sessions per day be- tween Monday and Wednesday to debate the budgetary estimates of the individual ministries. A vote on each ministry will then be taken in one session before parliament ad- journs for the Christmas holidays. This budget timeline will weigh heavily on Abela's mind as he con- siders his options. The Prime Minister can call a general election whenever he deems fit but there is a minimum of 33 days between parliament's dissolution and voting day that must be respected. This means that if Abela chooses to go to the polls on Saturday 20 November, he would have to call the election on Tuesday 19 Octo- ber at the latest. This means that after delivering his budget reaction and waiting for MPs to vote on the budget, Abe- la will head straight to San Anton Palace to request the President dis- solve parliament and issue the writ for a general election. If the Prime Minister opts for an election on Saturday 27 November, he can call the election on any day until Tuesday 26 October. Assuming that Abela will want to avoid an election during Decem- ber so as not to disrupt Christmas shopping and festivities, the No- vember dates mean that his gov- ernment will not be able to approve the budget in all its stages. The de- bates on the ministry estimates will be cut short or not held at all. Pope Francis Speculation on a November elec- tion was rekindled last week when news came through that Pope Francis postponed his Malta visit to next year. It is understood that the Vatican was concerned over the possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the winter months. But the Holy See appears to have also been in- fluenced by persistent rumours of a November vote and was not keen on a papal visit just after an elec- tion. This has fuelled talk of a Novem- ber election despite Abela having said that he would want to see the budget being implemented. Several sources within the Labour Party have told MaltaToday that opinion is split within the party as to whether Abela should call an election now or wait until March next year. "The decision rests with Robert Abela and it's hard to decipher what he may have in mind because most of us are still trying to fully comprehend his modus operandi," one of the sources said. The two considerations Abela can capitalise on a good budget and favourable polls to call an election in November, even though the budget process will be incomplete. An electoral victory with a bigger margin than 2017 will give Abela greater legitimacy within the party and enable him to exit with flying A November election is possible but it can only mean one thing: an incomplete budget process. Kurt Sansone looks at the budget timeline and how this may be affected if Robert Abela goes for a November vote Robert's dilemma: Assuming Abela will want to avoid a December election so as not to disrupt Christmas, the November dates mean his government will not be able to approve the budget in all its stages

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