Abela: ‘It’s the people who’ll decide if this budget gets implemented’

Prime Minister drops hint of possible election, suggesting Budget’s approval could follow popular vote

Prime Minister Robert Abela set no election date as he delivered the final budget speech
Prime Minister Robert Abela set no election date as he delivered the final budget speech

Prime Minister Robert Abela has dropped a hint of a possible election, suggesting Budget’s approval could be followed by a popular vote.

“It’s the people who’ll decide if this budget gets implemented,” he told the House during his budget reaction on Tuesday.

He said the country faces big challenges in its future, challenges which “cannot be trusted in the wrong hands”.


Speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic, Abela said it was the greatest challenge faced by the country since the second world war.

“Because we were united, as Maltese and Gozitans, today we can speak with optimism on our future,” Abela said.

The PM said government approached the pandemic with its own model, insisting the country could not wait to see what other countries were doing. “We knew what would happen if we remained static.”

Abela said the way government drew up its wage supplement model, helped in preserving jobs, and showed its competence on the sector.

“During the pandemic, instead of one budget, we issue four,” he said.


Speaking on the Financial Action Task Force’s greylisting of Malta earlier this year, Abela said government will be carrying out the FATF’s action plan in full.

“I will not make immature declarations, like statements that we are getting the country out of the grey list in 90 days. What I will say is that the county has accepted the FATF result, and the action plan will be carried out in full,” Abela said.

Abela said he would not be making any “immature declarations like the opposition leader”.

“In less than two years we carried out the biggest governance and rule of law reforms in the country’s history. What didn’t happen since the Independence, we carried out in a few months, and during a pandemic!” he said.

He also hit out at the opposition for predicting the “country will drown” and for insisting authorities will be hard with the weak and with businesses.

“It’s only the opposition who wants to paint Malta as the worst country in the world,” he said.

“We will continue pushing for fiscal morality. Mr Opposition leader, be careful.”


On the environment, Abela conceded the environment was sidelined for a number of years.

“I will not point fingers, but as PM, I have a duty to look ahead,” the PM said.

He said eight years ago, Malta’s top priority was to “stop the economic stagnation faced by the country.”

“But today priorities have changed,” he said.

He said government has outlined its vision on the environment. “That is the legacy we want to leave behind.”

Abela slammed Grech’s statements on the environment on Monday. “Look at who is his right-hand man, George Pullicino’s right-hand man, the mind behind the 2006 rationalization policy.”

Cost of living

The PM said government has recognized the challenges faced by people, and that is why it did not increase any taxes.

“Your political style is clear – higher prices and instability,” he told the opposition. “We did not increase energy bills like they did.”

He also said the Nationalist Party has €4 million in pending payments to ARMS.

“Your reaction to the budget? You erected billboards saying that we had the worst recession in the last 40 years. Let’s say this is true, why did you spend 25 years with a better economic situation, and all you did was burden people with more problems?” he said.