Coleiro Preca slams ‘deceitful’ opposition

Family minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca says opposition was not offering any new ideas in social policy sector.

Explaining that the 2014 Budget had included a €41 million increase in social benefits and a further €9 million increase in initiatives and programmes family minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said "the Opposition is either unable to read the budget or it's trying to deceive people."

She added that it was a pity the Opposition was not offering any ideas on social policy and hit out at the previous PN government's propensity to draft reports and strategies only to shelve them.

Hitting out at shadow minister Clyde Puli, the minister said she was disappointed "not because he was negative but because he seems to have misunderstood today's debate after dedicating large chunks of his speech to matters which have little or nothing to do with the social sector."

"The sector does not deserve to be treated in a partisan way because it deals with issues of life or death for many persons," Coleiro Preca said.  

In a passionate speech, Coleiro Preca asked the opposition to be patient because the government could not fix the broken sector it inherited in a few months.

On pensions, the minister said the government would not be increasing the pensionable age and "we are committed to provide an adequate pension to all, now and in the future."

Parliamentary Secretray for Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Aging, Franco Mercieca said that the government was committed to expanding its services provided to the elderly and persons with disability.

He said that he was disgusted by the opposition leader Simon Busuttil's "lies" on the funds allocated to the National Commission for Persons with Disability which in fact had increased by €20,000.

"How did he have the gall to come here and tell such lies?" Mercieca asked, adding that the government inherited a number of community centres which were in a state of abandon and was now planning the refurbishment of these shelters and the creation of new ones.

Mercieca said that upon taking office, no strategy for the elderly sector was in place and he stressed that active ageing strategy which will be launched this month will address the problems related to the ageing population.

The parliamentary secretary explained that parts of the St Vincent de Paul residential home were unfit for the elderly patients and the government was in the process of improving conditions in what he dubbed as Florence Nightingale-ish.

He also pointed out that the dementia strategy drafted by the previous PN government had been shelved for three years and a new strategy was being prepared because the original report was outdated.

While explaining that the government was planning to create 300 new nursing beds every year, Mercieca reiterated that the government would be working closely with the private sector to provide more residential spaces for the elderly.

On community services, he said that these were saturated and the demand was much larger than the government's capacity. However, the government had addressed these problems in the budget and community services had already been improved.

In the last 11 years poverty has increased and this was the result of the previous PN administrations' policies, government backbencher Anthony Agius Decelis said.

The MP - who eight months ago was appointed as the family minister's consultant at the St Vincent de Paul residential home for the elderly - accused PN leader Simon Busuttil of being responsible for the policies implemented by the PN governments in the last five years because he authored the electoral programmes in 2008.

Fellow government backbencher Chris Agius said that the State should step in and guarantee that men who do not claim the fatherhood of their children shoulder their responsibilities and care for the children and mothers.

Agius stressed that the current situation should not be allowed to linger and argued that mothers should not be allowed to register their children as having an 'unknown father' in order to live off social benefits.



@ Avukat totally agree, are these mothers all the victims of rape? and if a mother has a child out of wedlock 'by mistake' should the state provide for the second third and fourth all with unknown fathers? It is also no secret that the father is usually very known and he his the same one all along, only these people have worked out that it is far more profitable to live comfortably off social benefits rather than a registered tax paying job. These scroungers should be investigated by a special team within the Police Corps. I personally know of a family with 4 children all registered as having 'unknown father' they all live under one roof as a family , with their biological father, who is 'gainfully' occupied, he takes his family on holiday abroad every year, sends his kids to a church school and receives all the perks from our beneficial social services, and the rest of us who pay our taxes to the last cent just have to lump these injustices happening right under our noses.
Simply do not accept father unknown and no benefits for the mother.