Robert Abela criticises ‘back-handed’ campaigns that paralyse economic growth

In spite of this, Abela remains optimistic that Malta is en route to pre-COVID normality

Photo: Labour Party
Photo: Labour Party

Prime Minister Robert Abela remains optimistic on Malta’s return to normality, but has criticised “back-handed” campaigns aimed at paralysing the economy.

While speaking at a Labour Party political activity in Floriana, the Prime Minister optimistically said that a return to normality is fast approaching. He mentioned a recent forecast from the European Commission which projected that Malta will experience the highest rates of economic growth across the all Member States.

However, Abela remarked that there have been subtle campaigns throughout the pandemic to put a damper on Malta’s economic growth.

“When we had no infections, people were creating back-handed campaigns so that people don’t leave their house, or don’t buy from local businesses. In fact, I would like to remind entrepreneurs of the amount of subtle campaigns that tried to force businesses onto their knees and paralyse the economy,” he said.

“We were always the voice of hope and faith, while still remaining realistic,” Abela continued.

The Prime Minister noted satisfactorily how authorities have vaccinated over 50,000 people so far, and referenced a statistic published by the EU which shows Malta to be leading the race in per capita vaccination rates.

He said that a fourth vaccine will likely be authorised by March, with 250,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine already reserved.

Abela briefly mentioned that his 91-year-old grandmother, currently at Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital, tested positive for COVID-19, and is being duly treated for the virus. While suffering some respiratory issues, he thanked Steward Healthcare, who have been tasked with running the Karin Grech hospital, for their work.

In today’s Sunday issue, newspaper Illum revealed that Air Malta is losing €170,000 daily. Abela acknowledged this during his speech, saying that these problems have existed for years. Hoever, he is convinced that this will be addressed, and that Air Malta will continue operations for years to come.

Abela warned that the summer months will be problematic for irregular migration. He said that it’s a complex issue, but insisted that Malta cannot take responsibility for the problem by itself, especially with areas like Marsa and Birżebbuġa shouldering the burden.

“My position is clear, the interests of Maltese and Gozitans come first,” he insisted.

Abela said that government will be coordinating with Libyan authorities so as to curb boat crossings from Libya and address the issue at source.

The Prime Minister mentioned a new law introduced this week, whereby only the January and February profits generated will be taken into account for the year 2020.

“All those who suffered losses in 2020 will be treated as if they incurred no losses after February, and this will translate into a pension that will in no way be reduced due to COVID.”

FinanceMalta youth appointment

Robert Abela defended the appointment of Carlos Zarb, a 19-year-old Labour Party councillor from St Paul’s Bay, to FinanceMalta’s board of governors last year.

The appointment garnered controversy this week after Nationalist MP David Thake pointed it out on Facebook.

In retaliation, the prime minister remarked that the Nationalist Party failed to consider how several persons tied to that party were appointed to public posts, most notably the chairman of the Public Contracts Review Board, who had been a PN candidate for the European Parliamentary elections.