Minister says PN leader answerable over millions given to TRC

Parliamentary secreteary Jose Herrera says government plans to invest in registration of space satellite industries

Economy minister Chris Cardona said that Opposition leader Simon Busuttil should say who will be shouldering responsibility for some $10 million given by the previous administration to TRC Entertainment, a company which he claimed had criminal links.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament, Cardona reiterated Prime minister Joseph Muscat’s claims that Malta Enterprise had given the company the said amount of money despite due diligence exercises uncovering the company’s “links to criminal activity”.

“These are the real shady people, not the ones you and your friend Daphne Caruana Galizia keep attacking,” Cardona told PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami.

He further questioned what former finance minister answered to the fact that although the company hadn’t generated any money, the directors had given themselves $1.7 million in directors' fees.

Cardona said the country’s economy was going from strength to strength, with initiatives like lower energy tariffs for businesses having had a very positive effect on the competitivity of local companies.

He added that the growth of the manufacturing industry had already left tangible effects on the economy, with the sector creating some 500 new jobs up to April this year, and the government would continue to ensure a favourable environment for investors and in so doing, create more job opportunities.

Cardona stressed that data and studies had shown that the country’s economic growth was sustainable and that on average some 10 jobs were being created everyday.

He added that Malta Enterprise had continued to grow in various sectors, and that it had secured the expansion of various foreign companies already in Malta, besides bolstering Maltese companies.

He also said that Malta Enterprises had even invested in the health sector, with its creation of a digital hub to secure better communication between life sciences and technology, as well as investments like the Bart’s medical school in Gozo.

Cardona also explained that the government was looking forward to introducing new hawkers management systems that would encourage more cleanliness and order on the stalls and streets they operate in.

Herrera says government plans to invest in registration of satellite industries

Parliamentary Secretary for economic growth Jose Herrera said that the government would be looking at new economic niches to invest in next year, including local registration of satellites among others.

“The government will look into accommodating foreign companies interested in registering satellites in Malta,” he said in Parliament today.

Herrera said that the government would continue to support the development of sectors like financial services and gaming, and that it would also be looking into the establishment of Property Malta to strengthen the local real estate sector, as well and other ideas like Financial technology among others.

Herrera said that the government would soon be launching Maritime Malta with an investment of some €350,000, to collect the maritime industry under one entity.

“The entity would also be responsible for building a number of clusters of private companies,” he said adding that the entity was one of the initiatives under the integrated maritime policy, launched earlier this year, and containing around 50 initiatives including ones about financial services and fuel storage among others.

He further added that the government would be publishing data about the performance of technological heavyweights like Huawei in Malta so far.

Herrera also made reference to the Malta Gaming Authority and said that the restructuring of the sector had been part of the efforts made to establish the country as a centre for excellence in the gaming industry.

He further explained that the new regulations that allowed cruise liners to open their casinos when they are berthed in Maltese ports between 6pm and 6am had already made a difference and resulted in more overnight stays.

Discussing the developments of the ICT sectors in Malta, Herrera added that the Malta Communications Authority had also embarked on improving its WI-FI services around the island, with the hope of reaching some 50 hotspots by next year.

MP and chairman of the responsible gaming foundation Silvio Schembri said that the foundation had embarked on an educational campaign, targeting some 450 students this year, to explain the dangers of gambling addictions.

“As a foundation, we believe firmly that more awareness is needed about the dangers of addictions to gambling,” he said, adding that the newly launched helpline for gaming addictions had already registered over 35 service users  since it started some months ago.

He  further added that the foundation was looking forward to launching scholarships with the University of Malta as well as  training and rehabilitation centres next year.

Labour MP Charles Mangion also made a contribution during the debate.