'Balance has been achieved' on Comino deckchairs and Valletta music, Prime Minister insists

Prime Minister Robert Abela says government has reached the right balance between economic and public interests in the Comino and Valletta sagas

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Prime Minister Robert Abela insisted that the right balance between the rights of commercial entities and those of the public has been achieved in both Comino and Valletta.

After Moviment Graffitti activists launched direct action on Comino, removing umbrellas and deckchairs hogging the Blue Lagoon, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo issued an order prohibiting deckchairs on the sandy beach.

"A compromise decision was taken immediately in the best interest of both the public and the operators. We need to achieve a balance between the rights of the people to enjoy public spaces and that of the operators to work. We can’t however put a stop to commercial activities," Abela said on Tuesday when asked by reporters during a press conference announcing an investment by Ryanair.

Abela said he did not believe that Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo and Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, had a conflict of interest in the commercialisation of Comino. It was recently revealed that Bartolo's father and uncles have a company that ferries tourists to the island, while Camilleri's canvasser is one of the umbrella operators on Comino.

The Prime Minister said that without a strong economy, the government would not have been able to support business during the pandemic and to subsidise fuel and electricity prices, ever since the war in Ukraine broke out.

Asked whether the government could guarantee stability in energy prices indefinitely, Abela said, “it depends on whether the government manages to maintain the current rate of economic growth, on the foreign investment that is attracted to Malta and whether business are sustained.”

Valletta outdoor music

With regards to the legal notice allowing bars, restaurants and entertainment spots in Valletta to continue playing outdoor music until 1am, the Abela said that after having remained closed for two years, the establishments had to recover their losses.

“The legal notice will be debated in parliament and I encourage the MPs to express their opinion. I believe that moderation and compromise have been reached,” Abela said.

He added that as per the legal notice, music had to be played at a moderate level after 11pm.

“Moderate means that it should not be excessive. Valletta will not become another Paceville and it offers quality entertainment. Maltese artists have not made a living in the past two years and they only survived thanks to the wage supplement. They are now performing in Valletta and today they can’t keep up with the amount of work that they have,” Abela said.