[WATCH] Robert Abela says budget will cater for the next ten years

PM says government’s long-term vision has helped in drawing up ‘the best budget’ in the country’s history

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has said this year’s budget will cater for the next ten years thanks to government’s long-term vision.

Abela was speaking during his budget reaction in parliament on Tuesday evening.

“This was a budget with no new taxes, which took nothing but gave a lot. This was the best budget ever made,” Abela said.

The PM went on to say that government’s clever management of finances allowed for the granting of vouchers, wage supplements and higher children’s allowance.

Abela hit out at opposition leader Bernard Grech’s reaction on Monday, when he said that this was a “recycled budget”.  

“May we continue to have recycled budgets like the one we just presented,” he said.

On COVID-19, Abela said that while government may have made mistakes, it always remained concentrated on striking a balance between aiding the economy and safeguarding people’s lives.

“Countries around us were knocked down due to the pandemic, with us it faced the best healthcare system we ever had in our country,” he said.

The PM said that investment in the healthcare sector allowed for workers to be best prepared for the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“We have 5,500 more full timers in the health sector than in 2013. That is how we invest in the healthcare sector,” he said.

He promised Maltese families that the country will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Abela said that last March was the month which would define the government’s socialist principles.

“We are the movement which believes in the workers and those who employ them. That is what defines us,” he said.

On Grech’s claims that the PM is interfering with Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci’s work, Abela said that the opposition leader is sending mixed signals.

“First, he told us that he fully believes in Charmaine Gauci, then he said that we should launch a board which oversees her work. Can he decide?” Abela said.

He went on to hit out at the PN for calling a leadership contest in the middle of the pandemic.

On measures enacted earlier this week, and are expected to come into action on Thursday, the PM said that he believes such measures were not “overboard”.

“At the moment, that is what is necessary. We listened to what the people had to say. I understand that people have to work and earn a living. I apologize to those with bars but at the moment, that is what is needed," the prime minister said.

He went on to say that government is pro-business and pro-market.

“Why are you trying to make our businesses look like bad people?” he asked the opposition.

Reacting to criticism fielded by government on social partners dictating the government’s agenda, Abela said that they got what deserved not what they wanted.

“We want to help people, not push them away,” he said.

Speaking about unemployment, Abela said government succeeded in reducing the number of unemployed by 1,200 in June, July, August and October.

On January’s political unrest, Abela said that when he was made PM one of his main points of action was to continue the momentum of economic growth started by Labour in 2013.  

“January’s political turmoil calmed down in a couple of days, and serenity returned. We changed the people in top posts. We enacted many reforms, and this has received praise from the European Commission,” he said.

Speaking about the opposition’s pre-budget speech, the PM called out inaccuracies, describing it as “poor”.

Speaking on government’s environment strategy, the PM said that in order to reach green goals set by the EU, he will not allow for people to bear the financial brunt of a such a change.

“We are not prepared to have the electrification of our country to be shouldered by the people,” he said.

He went on to say that government is ambitious in reaching its climate targets.

“We want to find a balance between sustainable development and the environment,” he said.

On Gozo, the PM said that the second fibre optic cable will help to bring about jobs and a leap forward in digitisation of Malta’s sister island.

Abela hit out at Grech for sitting on the fence when it came to the permanent link between the two islands.

“They don’t want to take a stance. An opposition which doesn’t want to take a decision. That is the problem,” he said

Speaking about immigration, Abela said that the solutions lie in Libya.

“We are full-up for immigrants who come by boat, we are not full up for those who come with a permit. Those without a permit, will be sent back,” he said.

READ ALSO: Analysis of Bernard Grech’s budget speech - poor pitch for new vision

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