[WATCH] PM insists government doing its utmost in tackling migration crisis

Prime Minister Robert Abela says government will continue insisting on an EU-wide relocation system, as well as increasing police presence in localities most affected by immigration

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has insisted government will be doing everything it can to tackle the immigration crisis faced by the country.

Abela concluded the Labour Party’s Extraordinary General Conference held at the Rialto in Bormla.

Speaking to party faithful, the Labour leader said he understands the difficulties faced by those living in areas most affected by immigration like Hamrun and Marsa.

“We understand the sentiment felt, and we are doing our utmost to finding a solution to this problem,” he said.

Abela said government is insisting a proper EU-wide relocation system be put in place.

“We are going to other countries and we are insisting with them that this is not a Maltese problem, but a European one.”

He also said an increased police presence and proper punishment for those breaking the law should be put in place.

“We will be hard with those caught breaking the law. We are hosting people in our home, and so we expect them to abide by our legislation,” he said.

Speaking on the Moneyval test, Abela expressed his confidence in Malta not being placed on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) money laundering grey list.

“In the same way we have received praise for our reform in the country’s rule of law, I am positive we will come out on top,” Abela said, pointing out that such scrutiny stems from bad decisions under a Nationalist administration.

Speaking on the Venice Commission’s proposals, Abela called on the opposition to vote in favour during a parliamentary vote next Wednesday.

“The easiest thing for me would be to retain my powers as PM, and go the Venice Commission and tell them the reforms were not carried out due to the opposition. But no we respect the rule of law and want the reforms to be carried out,” Abela said.

Speaking on the negotiations which led to Malta securing its largest ever EU funds allocation, €2.25 billion, for the financial period of 2021-2027, Abela said that the country’s economic success could have been detrimental in discussions.

“We could have been victims to our own success, but we set a benchmark, and ensured we achieved our targets.”

The Labour leader also played down calls to reintroduced COVID-19 restrictions.

“We reopened and we will remain open. There were several predictions that unemployment will rise after COVID-19 and indeed tens of thousands of jobs are being lost in other countries, but here in Malta unemployment has gone down, and 4,000 new jobs have been created.”

The PM stressed that internal quarrels and instability within the PN should not be a reflection of the country’s political situation.

“Our goal now is to remain unified and continue achieving results.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne also spoke during the conference, outlining Steward Healthcare’s intentions in fixing irregularities in the hospital takeover by Vital Global Healthcare.

“We are set on making sure that the agreement is of benefit to everyone in the country,” Fearne said.

Addressing those present, newly elected deputy leader for party affairs Daniel Micallef stressed on unity being the cornerstone of every successful party.

“There is always a chance to continue renewing the party, we cannot allow ourselves to stop moving forward,” he said.

He laid out his vision for the party, stating that by the end of the year, the party will be presenting a set of 100 objectives on which the country will be basing its future.

He also stressed the concept of a movement must be strengthened.

“I envision the party becoming a distinct stakeholder in the country, which serves as a voice for constructive criticism even towards government.”