Busuttil planning to fund proposals using EU funds that have already been allocated – Labour

Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds Ian Borg also pointed out that the previous administration had only used 30% of the funds available to it

Ian Borg (left) and Etienne Grech (right)
Ian Borg (left) and Etienne Grech (right)

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil was trying to make up for the fact that the PN’s proposals weren’t costed, by saying he would be making use of EU funds, according to Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds, Ian Borg.

He was addressing a press conference at the Labour Party headquarters together with MP Etienne Grech where he said that the majority of the EU funds for the period between 2014 and 2023 had already been allocated, while also insisting that the PN did not have a good track-record on using EU funds.

“When he found himself with his back against wall, after being asked how he would be funding his electoral manifesto, he turned to famous phrase that there are EU funds for the implementation of proposals,” said Borg.

The facts, he said, prove otherwise. Borg pointed out that the previous administration had only utilised 30% of the funds allocated for the period between 2007 and 2013.

“When the nation gave this party its mandate in March of 2013, we found a situation where only 30% of the funds allocated for our country had been used,” he said. “We worked so that by the end of 2015, the point at which we had to close that packet of funding, that 30% was increased to 100% so that Malta would not lose a cent that it was allocated to it.”

He insisted that this meant working to complete a number of projects that had either not been started or were progressing at a very slow pace. According to Borg, these projects included the restoration of Fort St Angelo, Fort St Elmo and the Citadella, as well as work on the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre and Triq Dicembru 13 in Marsa.

“The leader of the opposition is saying that the initiatives he is proposing, like the €10,000 grant for those settling in Gozo and the increase in pensions, can be funded using EU funds we have left unused,” he said.

Borg said it was “worth informing” the leader of opposition about how Malta and the European Commission had together decided how these funds would be utilised.

He said “calls” had already been issued, for 75% of the funds allocated for infrastructural projects, which amount to €717 million.

Similarly, he said that 90% of funds falling under the European social fund - which include guarantees for youths, and funding for schemes like the one proposed for postgraduate studies – had also been allocated.

Finally, he said that there was another “small programme” worth €15 million that had already been completely allocated.

Borg ran through a long list of projects he said were using these EU funds, including the Kappara Junction, the Ta Qali Crafts Village, the digitalisation of public broadcasting, work on the Xewkija industrial estate, a number of schemes related to solar panels and many others.

He said that it was clear from Busuttil’s proposals that he had no knowledge on EU funds, nor did he know about projects which were already ongoing.  

Grech said one could clearly note the contrast between the two parties, where on the one hand, the Labour Party was aware of what funds were available and had already published a manifesto with costed proposals, while the PN had still not published its manifesto and was issuing proposals in a haphazard manner.

“The PN in government will either grow the country’s deficit and take the country back to an excessive deficit procedure or won’t implement these science fiction proposals and will tell us that circumstances have changed.”

Alternatively, he said the PN might choose to raise taxes such as VAT to fund its proposals.