Muscat says strong economy will allow Malta to create better environment

Next year’s budget will include plans for addressing challenges faced by the government, including the environment

The upcoming budget will include a plan for government to address environmental concerns such as air quality
The upcoming budget will include a plan for government to address environmental concerns such as air quality

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has emphasised the need for a strong economy in order for Malta to continue to address the challenges it faces.

Speaking during a short interview on the Labour Party’s ONE radio, Muscat said the government would continue taking the decisions necessary for the country to prosper.

Muscat was speaking a day after thousands of protests took to the streets to protest against unbridled construction and the loss of the country’s natural environment.

The Prime Minister ran through a list of budgetary measures introduced over the years by his administration, insisting that it was only possible because Malta had an economy growing more than three times the EU average.

He said that next month’s budget would again be strengthen people’s confidence in the country, and would also lay out plans for addressing some of the challenges the country faces, including the environment and its air quality. “All of this will be in the plans we will lay out in the budget,” Muscat said.

Malta’s economic performance, Muscat said, was the result of his government being able to take decisions when it needed to.

“This means decisions are being taken, investment is being attracted. What we must do as a government is to never rely on our good results and to keep pushing forward,” Muscat said.

He said that government would continue to be “pro-business”, and would continue striving to bring more investment and jobs to Malta. Muscat said there would soon be announcements in this regard.  

The next budget would again look to reduce people’s financial burdens in order to allow them to invest and spend their money the way they saw fit.

He said that the last budget has seen some €128 million spent by the government on only ten measures, all of which had been implemented without increasing or adding any taxes.  

‘Financial institutions paying us to borrow money’

Muscat noted what he described as an unprecedented occurrence for the economy last week. “This week something happens which normally only happens to very big countries. For the first time, we have had financial institutions lend us money, only they paid us to borrow it rather than the other way around.”

Muscat said that the reason financial institutions were willing to park their money with Malta was because it was viewed as being economically strong and stable.

Rent laws only need fine-tuning

Muscat turned to a proposed law to regulate rent agreements, which has, in recent weeks, been criticised by both the Nationalist Party and the Malta Developers Association.

He said that those who did not own their own home and rented accommodation faced “a jungle”, given the current legal framework did not offer them any long-term stability.

The Bill currently making its way through parliament, seeks to address this, he said, stressing that it was the result of a year-long consultation period and the publication of a white paper. “There was a positive response to the whitepaper. Maybe there were those who thought that after the white paper the government wouldn’t be doing anything.”

Despite pressures to cap rents, he said that government had opted to introduce other measures, like the requirement for there to be a rental contract for a minimum one-year period. Incentives have also been included for landlords to enter into more long-term agreements with tenants.

He said that the Bill could be amended slightly from its current form but insisted that it was ultimately a good law which gave tenants people a small degree of certainty. “We have people moving the goal posts on one another from one day to the next.”

He said that while the Bill could be amdended it was a good law to prevent law of the jungle. “it gives the reference point we need to give people certainty.  We can’t have people moving the goal posts from one day to the next.”