[WATCH] PM calls out opposition on its endorsement of criminal report over migrant deaths

Prime Minister Robert Abela says opposition had the chance to side-line political bias, and support government decision ‘in the interest of the country’ but chose not to  

Posted by Partit Laburista on Sunday, 19 April 2020

Prime Minister Robert Abela has hit out at the opposition over its support of a criminal report regarding the claimed sabotage of a vessel carrying migrants by AFM officials. 

Civil society group Repubblika had filed a criminal report in connection with stories in the press that army personnel were involved in the sabotage of a vessel carrying migrants.

The army officials also were reported to have told the migrants that nobody wanted them to approach Malta.

The PM had recently slammed the police reports filed by Repubblika against him, the AFM commander and a patrol boat crew, saying this has served to place an additional burden on the army as it fights to help control COVID-19's spread.

In an interview on party station ONE TV, Abela said that he was saddened by the opposition’s behaviour, stating that this was an opportunity to distance themselves from the report. 

“I genuinely thought that opposition would be side-lining its political bias and support the government’s decision in the interest of the country,” he said.

He also hit out at the opposition over its “inconsistency”, stating that on the day the migrants in question had been brought to shore, the PN had sent a NET News crew to film them entering the port. 

Abela also hit out at Repubblika’s request to the European Court of Human Rights to force Malta and Italy to rescue migrants who find themselves in difficulty at sea. Their request was rejected. 

The PM called out the civil society group’s actions over the precedent such a decision could have created. 

“We would have had an influx of thousands of migrants, at a time when the country cannot cope with it,” he said. 

The PM also highlighted facts surrounding migration in the Mediterranean Sea, claiming more than 700,000 migrants are waiting to make the crossing to Europe. 

“We are talking about organised human trafficking with limitless resources”, Abela said, insisting action must be taken to stop this. 

The PM also hit out at former PM Lawrence Gonzi over comments made on Xarabank. 

“It is easy to be a former PM and criticise one’s actions, especially when you had done the same thing,” Abela said. 

Credit Rating Agencies

The PM welcomed the latest by credit rating agencies, stating that this was only made possible through the investment in Malta’s workforce. 

Credit rating agency Fitch has revised Malta’s outlook to stable, from positive, and affirmed its A+ credit rating.

Fitch believes Malta’s real GDP will contract by 5.9% in 2020, a more austere outlook than a recent IMF prediction, reflecting the health crisis shock to the global economy and tourism, coupled with the government’s containment measures, and a stop on consumer spending.

PM Robert Abela also cited the government decision in what it is calling the largest ever investment in the waste management sector.

The investment includes a much-needed waste-to-energy plant that will significantly limit landfilling volumes, a new plant for the management of dry recyclables, a plant to treat organic waste to extract energy and produce compost for use in agriculture, as well as the replacement of the clinical and abattoir waste incinerator.

“We transformed rubbish and waste from a liability to a resource,” he said. 

Abela said nobody had the guts to grab the bull by its horns and solve what is an ongoing situation. 

“This is difficult decision which we had to take, but which will ultimately mean that no more land is taken for waste management reasons,” he said.