Opposition is in no position to lecture government on fund absorption – Ian Borg

Deputy prime minister Louis Grech says this year’s budget would incentivize employment and new markets.

Parliamentary secretary for EU funds Ian Borg said that the PN was in no position to admonish the government about fund absorption, as the previous administration had fallen behind on applications for EU funds.

“PN had only managed to absorb 30% of available funds in a five-year period, but thia govenrment managed to absorb the remaining 70%, in two and a half years,” he said.

Borg pointed out that the previous administration had spoken about restoring Fort St Angelo but that they had never applied for the fund, and that it had applied for €80 million for the Coast Road project although it knew that only €50 million were available.

“The government entered discussions to reduce the price by €30 million and the €11 million which were deducted from the project funds by the EU were not in fact lost but re-allocated to other projects because this government was responsible enough to do so quickly,” he added.

Borg added that the government had focused on campaigning for the general election rather than made the necessary changes and developments in the projects under EU funds

Borg further explained that the funds had gone into laptops for teachers, and into better technological equipment for MCAST.

Borg also looked forward to Malta’s Presidency of the EU Council in 2017, and that the government had worked with the trio Slovakia and the Netherlands to create an appropriate programme according to the needs of the country, particularly in the fields of migration among others.

Responding to claims that the new projects had not yet been announced, Borg said that calls had already in fact been issued and that the remaining projects would see calls issued by November.

Deputy prime minister Louis Grech said that this year’s budget would incentivize employment and new markets, and that the government had ensured that its budgets supported social inclusion.

Grech said that the aircraft maintenance sector had not been a result of some grand PN strategy but that of a proposal made by himself when he had served as chairman of the national air carrier

Referring to the employment of five research analysts, Grech said that the government aimed to give more research and documentation facilities to MPs.

“The issue is, how many funds are available for such projects, and how parliament can truly grow,” he said.

Grech also referred to Britain’s in/out referendum and explained that this could be an opportunity for the EU to become less bureaucratic and to get closer to its citizens.

He further added that he was looking forward to a deeper discussion of the migration issue when Malta held Presidency in 2017, and he further explained that the country was considering the upcoming EU Africa summit as an opportunity to further delve into the subject.

Government whip Godfrey Farrugia praised the efforts made so far to bring people closer to parliament and added that the government was looking forward to instilling administrative autonomy for parliament. He added that the next focus was on the Bill on Standards in Public Life and the Public Service Act.

Labour MP Luciano Busuttil also addressed the debate and said that the government was looking forward to bringing up relevant points at the EU presidency meetings.