PM: Economy needs €100 vouchers to recover from COVID pandemic

Robert Abela says cultural sector will play central role in tourism industry’s recovery during summer

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has insisted the country’s economy needed the €100 stimulus cheques being delivered to people’s households during the election campaign.

Workers and students are currently receiving a €100 cheque, while pensioners and people on social benefits are receiving a €200 cheque. People are also receiving their tax refund cheques, amounting between €60 and €140.

“It was important for the cheques to be sent at this time, as the country needed them,” Abela told supporters.

The PM was reacting to criticism by the PN on the cheques, who have labelled the move a vote-catching exercise. Abela hit back, stressing their importance to the economy.

“Unlike them, we don’t postpone, and want to help people now,” he said.

In a number of Labour rallies and events, Abela has stressed that voters are faced with the decision of choosing whether “these cheques will be the last Maltese families will receive.”

Speaking on ONE TV programme AWLA hosted by Luke Dalli, Abela also spoke about the challenges faced by the tourism industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said in March 2020, government was faced with one of the hardest decisions it had to take – that of closing down the country’s airport. “We knew we would be shutting down one-third of the country’s economy.”

“But we didn’t remain idle and rolled out two voucher schemes. We didn’t need the pandemic to issue to the vouchers,” he said.

He also said the wage supplement scheme was crucial in safe guarding businesses and jobs. “Now we have the lowest rate of unemployment in the country’s history.”

The PM said the PL has a number of pledges which will continue helping the tourism sector to continue in its road to recovery.

“We will be giving a tax incentive to touristic accommodations who either invest in or refurbish their premises. We will also be helping the touristic sector to be prepared for the shoulder months. We learnt during the pandemic that we needed to invest in the shoulder months, so as to keep attracting tourists,” he told those present.

Abela also reiterated previous statements that Malta will have “a normal summer”, saying the cultural sector will have a big role to play in that recovery.

“We want to ensure the sector has a central role, and so the MTA for example has to help and not compete with the sector,” he said.

He told followers that predictions that the touristic sector will take years to recover will be proved wrong. “I promise you we have a very strong tourist season.”

Abela concluded his speech by calling on the electorate to pick up their vote.

“Everyone one of us has the duty to be involved in this country’s leadership,” he said.

The PM said he understands people may feel forgotten or hard done by, but insisted they reach out and make their concerns heard. “Reach out to me, reach out to Lydia, reach out to our candidates, that is why we are meeting you.”

“Others have already said they will interpret voter abstention as a vote for them, a vote in favor of politics which does not reform,” he said. “Helps us in carrying out the reforms we are promising you.”

“Our 1,000 proposals will remain pledges if you don’t give us your vote,” he said.