Robert Abela rules out pre-budget election during PL rally

Increased budgets and a finalised underground metro - here's what Robert Abela said during his rally speech on Monday

Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Robert Abela teased on the coming election during a party rally in Ta' Qali on Monday.

"This legislature doesn't have more than nine months to it - but it hasn't ended," Abela stated. "We have projects that are coming to a finish, and an upcoming budget that will show the new vision we want."

This was the Labour Party's first mass rally post-COVID, taking the form of a seated event in line with COVID-19 prevention protocols.

Abela took to the stage with his wife Lydia Abela, later joined by his daughter Giorgia Mae, as the crowd cheered him on throughout the event.

Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday

Robert Abela took his speech as an opportunity to illustrate his vision as party leader, while dropping concrete examples of key reforms he wants to implement as Prime Minister.

"We need to see a discussion on serious electoral reform," he said, arguing that current electoral laws need to better reflect the society we live in. 

He added that the next Budget will not see any tax increases, but will increase pensions.

"[This will be another budget] that leaves more money in people's pockets," he said. "Another budget that will spark hope in youths, that will give more investment incentives."

He further revealed that studies on an underground metro system will soon go to public consultation, and called for a mature discussion on mass transport. 

"Are we ready to change the way we live? To use mass transport instead of our private cars? Are we ready to make inconvenient sacrifices while the subway is being built?"

Abela did not shy away from political labels, branding himself as a European social democrat. He said that employers must enjoy a level playing field, creating prosperity and allowing employees to climb the corporate ladder.

“I believe in the worker. The basis of this movement and country is the worker,” he went on to state. “Strength to the worker [saħħa lill-ħaddiem] – if we deny this, we go against the existence of the Labour Party.”

He added that economic growth is crucial, so long as it helps decrease the wealth gap. “Those are the principles that will guide us in our economic policy,” he said.

Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday

He repeatedly touched on the notion of the “little guy”, saying that the PL’s commitment to the small will always be met with a commitment to facilitate business.

Abela recalled how European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised Malta for its governance in reforms. “I had promised that reforms in good governance will be central to my work. I said that because I believed that, without it, the country will stagnate.”

“Everyone acknowledges the changes we’re doing – except for some,” he quipped.

Abela added that his administration is looking to make the country cleaner by working to lower emissions. However, he pledged that government will help protect people from any negative impacts of government’s carbon neutrality shift.

He said that government has already started incentivising businesses to switch to more efficient machinery,  and helping people switch to electric cars.