Muscat announces Gozo projects, new casino, land reclamation and MEPA tariff cuts

New cruise liner terminal, marina, and casino for Gozo, maritime hub for former shipbuilding site, and land reclamation projects announced by Prime Minister.

Joseph Muscat announced several major projects in his Budget speech.
Joseph Muscat announced several major projects in his Budget speech.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening announced the setting-up of a new financial affairs parliamentary committee, a bipartisan commission for the economy and a fiscal council focused on job growth, among several other major projects.

Putting paid to claims by Opposition leader Lawrence Gonzi that Gozo was to become the Cinderella of the economy, Muscat said the government will be issuing calls for the development of a yacht marina and cruise liner terminal in Gozo; a new casino licence of the Gozitan island; as well as another licence for the current site occupied by the Casinò di Venezia, the creation of a maritime hub at the former shipbuilding site; and call for ideas on land reclamation projects.

Addressing the House of Representatives during the presentation of the Budget, Muscat said that next week government will present a motion for the setting of a parliamentary committee for economy and finance. "We are also going to set up a bipartisan commission which will study the various sectors of economy with the potential growth. Together with these two, we will also set up an independent fiscal council," he said. The three bodies will see the participation of Opposition MPs.

An electoral pledge, Muscat announced the government will be issuing a call for "innovative and creative ideas" to be presented to the government. "Nobody will have to donate a tal-lira clock for their idea to get notes," he jibed in a barbed reference at the gift that oil trader George Farrugia gave to former finance minister Tonio Fenech.

The fourth call government will be issuing is for land reclamation projects, apart from an announcement that MEPA tariffs would be reduced within the next days, as well as a revision of the Permanent Residence Scheme.

Muscat also said the government's priority was for the deficit to be brought down to below the 3%, without burdening families and business.

Reacting to criticism raised by the Opposition leader over the budget speech's lack of reference to the financial sector, Muscat said the parliament was united in defending the sector. "It is a solid and transparent sector which follows European and international guidelines. This allows us to increase its competitiveness overseas," he said, adding that there was no comparison with Cyprus or other countries on Malta's banking sector.

On Air Malta, Muscat denied that government would be employing some new 400 workers with the national airline: "Our goal is the financial sustainability and viability on the airline."

In a snide remark while reiterating the government's commitment to increase jobs, Muscat said government had already succeeded in "creating a vacancy" at the helm of the Nationalist Party.

Despite Gonzi's denial that there was a glaring difference between the finance minister's speech and the financial estimates as presented in December, Muscat insisted that the government had carried out a thorough exercise that revealed the government's real financial situation. "I thank the Opposition for voting in favour of the budget... also a vote of confidence in this government," he said of the vote which is to be taken on the budget, which retained the framework as presented by the PN administration back in November 2012.

He however added that he was shocked that the Opposition tried to "implicate" that government had tampered with some figures to portray a different financial situation.

"All we did was ask for a thorough and clear pictures of the situation. And yes, Enemalta's debt has been accounted for," he said of the criticism by Gonzi that the deficit was high because the government did not include €66 million in levies the state energy corporation owes to the government.

Defending his decision to appoint a large Cabinet, Muscat said this was going to be an effective government. In yet another snide remark to the internal strife which afflicted the PN in the past, the Prime Minister added: "Had the previous government lasted another four months it would have ended up with just three or four ministers."

Jeffrey Camilleri
I question, doing like Cyprus and Spain, no other solutions for investment....??? ghall gol-hajt inmorru!!!!
Go Ghawdex l-ewwel haga li jrid jghamel Joseph hi li jara li l-haddiema tal-Gvern KULHADD imur ghax xoghol u KULHADD jaghti l-gurnata tax-xoghol tieghu. Dana ghaliex il-haddiema ta barra (b'mod specjali) jew jitghazznu x'imkien jew fuq xi xoghol iehor taghhom personali.
Frustration could be well seen on the opposition members while Muscat was enoucing these objectives...."how the hell we did not think of these?" it could be well read on Gonzi and Tonio's Faces!!!!!!
In my opinion neither of those two comments was snide. A snide remark implies malice or bitterness on the part of the speaker. Those two comments were said in jest, best described as gibes or jabs.