Continuity and cost-cutting in foreign affairs

Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella underlines Labour government’s commitment to continuity in foreign affairs, emphasises need for cost-cutting

Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella
Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella

Speaking in parliament during the budget 2013 debate, Foreign Affairs Minister said that the new Labour administration would retain the same foreign affairs policies.

"We will keep the same policy approach as before. There will be no shocks or disruptions," as long as this approach falls within the policy parameters established by Labour's electoral programme.

He noted that the Foreign Affairs ministry nevertheless is faced with a number of issues, among them complications endemic to the VISA system.

He said that Malta was receiving a number of complaints from other countries because of how Malta's VISA system is obstructing the free and uninhibited movement of people who wish to establish businesses locally.

"The system is already being studied to find a good solution, and clear up the problem by facilitating access," he said.

Vella also announced that Labour MP Chris Fearne would be chairing the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, and augured that the committee would start meeting as soon as possible so that it can start addressing items on its agenda.

He also expressed the hope of being in a position to discuss agendas of forthcoming European Foreign Affairs Council meetings with the committee before the EU council meetings take place.

Vella also spoke of the importance that Malta deepens its relationship with not only EU member states, but also with non-EU member states such as the United States, Russia, China, and also India.

He also said that within the EU, Malta should foster greater cooperation between member states not only for economic purposes, but also so that all EU member states become more social and more green in their respective national policies."

He however underlined the need for more control in spending in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, pointing to the existence of certain needless and avoidable indulgences.

Vella announced that the Ministry would be conducting an audit of all embassies from a value-for-money perspective, saying that "while it is true that the country requires an adequate presence and this requires spending, we also need to ensure some sort of return on spending."

He said that embassies will also serve as a "showcase for Malta's identity and culture."

More in Budget 2013
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Definiltey Brazil. Japan, not sure. And same with Russia.
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In Mintoff's time the embassies also acted as work promoters especially for the dry docks. This was scrapped by the nationalists.Wouldn't it be right to revive this practice to try and attract work especially companies in IT and Finances, Maritime and maybe even in dock works?
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"...the importance that Malta deepens its relationship with not only EU member states, but also with non-EU member states such as the United States, Russia, China, and also India." Good but not enough; please add AT LEAST Japan and Brazil to that "priority" list. Both countries off prospects which are at least as good (and probably better)than Russia.