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[WATCH] Muscat: Time to take infrastructure and built environment to the next level

The Prime Minister said that through income generated by the IIP scheme, the government is in a position to undertake more ambitious projects

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
5 May 2017, 9:12pm
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
 

If the Labour Party were to be elected to a second term in office, it would embark on series of projects aimed at improving Malta’s infrastructure and environment, said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening.

According to the Prime Minister, among Malta’s biggest problems were its infrastructure and overall cleanliness, two issues a new Labour government would immediately set about correcting.

Muscat reiterated his pledge to have all of Malta and Gozo’s roads redone over a period of seven years, adding that such a project would not have been possible had it not been for the government’s cash-for-citizenship scheme.

Asked how realistic the pledge was, Muscat said that the same question had been asked about the power station four years ago, and the government ultimately delivered.

“We currently spend an average of €20 million on roads a year. At this rate, it would take us 27 years to repair all the roads,” said Muscat. “Now we are saying that we will spend €100 million a year for seven years.”

He said that over the past four years, infrastructural projects, such as the coast road, had been completed on time and in a well-coordinated manner, and announced that work on the Kappara junction would be completed by the end of September. This he said, would immediately be followed by work on the Marsa junction.

Muscat also pledged to set up and agency that would be tasked with managing the works and the upkeep of roads.

“We will not allow potholes to remain on the roads for longer than 24 hours,” he said, adding that the government would enter into a public-private partnership with contractors, and would make EU funds available for them to invest in better equipment and staff training.

Moreover, he said that a Labour government would start a pilot project that would see wires and cables placed underground, rather than having them placed along the facades of buildings.

Another big problem the country had was cleanliness and the general upkeep of the environment, said Muscat.

In order to tackle the problem, he said, an agency would be set up that would be specifically tasked with ensuring the country was litter-free. He said that as things stand, there were instances where authorities were not doing enough, and others where they were not able to do enough.

“If you have a place that needs to be cleaned three times a day we can’t have authorities playing a blame game, with local councils blaming the government and vice versa,” he said.

However, he warned that this would not be enough, and emphasised the importance of people to be more careful about where they discard their trash, and to be appreciate the important of separating their waste.

Muscat said the first five days of the campaign have showed that not only was the government prepared to govern, “but it also prepared to continue governing”.

“One would have expected us to dedicate the first days of the campaign to talking about what we have accomplished,” he said. “Instead we have been talking about what we want to do.”

Muscat said people had welcomed the Labour Party’s first five proposals because they could see that they were costed and realistic and would make a difference to their lives.

On the other hand, said Muscat, PN leader Simon Busuttil said that he would be substantiating his proposals within the first 100 days of a PN government.

“Rather than working on proposals the opposition has been thinking of ways to orchestrate malicious attacks,” said Muscat, adding that the PN was clearly not ready to govern the country.

On tax cuts being proposed by the Labour Party, Muscat said that when taxes are reduced in a sustainable way, government income increases rather than decreases. He argued that if the government gives people €300 they would spend the money, and this would in turn mean that more wealth is created, resulting in higher tax revenues.

“We are not suggesting a 50 or 75% reduction in tax. All we are saying is that every person that works will be given a tax refund of between €200 and €340,” he added, stressing that the refund would be given to each working individual, and not simply each family. Referring to the PN’s proposal of a tax cut for retailers Muscat said the Labour Party preferred to distribute wealth equally.

Muscat concluded by discussing the decree handed down the magistrate heading the Egrant Inquiry yesterday. He said that despite the way in which some were choosing to interpret the issue, what the magistrate had said was essentially that “after [PN leader] Simon Busuttil had presented him with documents, the magistrate had said that this was not related to the inquiry underway”.

He stressed that ultimately people would be voting on the basis of facts, which “they have seen first-hand over the past four years”, and on the basis of the best proposals.

“We have the best plan and it is important to remember that elections are not won by clapping but with votes.”

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...