[WATCH] Miriam Dalli: Alternative financing for urban greening projects as budget cuts bite

Minister says government still committed to €700 million pledge for urban green spaces but alternative financing will be sought

An artist's rendition of the proposed public garden after the Santa Venera tunnels are roofed over
An artist's rendition of the proposed public garden after the Santa Venera tunnels are roofed over

Environment Minister Miriam Dalli said that government is still committed to its €700 million electoral pledge for urban greening projects but will seek alternative ways to fund these projects.

Dalli did not elaborate but the commitment comes as government seeks ways to save on expenditure in the light of hefty public subsidies to keep energy and fuel prices stable.

Questioned on Wednesday whether the government was still committed to seeing through the projects it had promised during the electoral campaign, Dalli said that it was important that government set its priorities. The Labour Party had pledged to invest €700 million over seven years in projects that would see several main roads being passed underground to create gardens above them.

“The current ongoing projects will be pursued. The other planned projects could be however financed in various different ways. We want people’s quality of life to keep on improving,” Dalli said.

MaltaToday had reported that government ministers were asked to identify some €200 million in budgetary cuts across the entire government system, in a bid to keep spending in check for the rest of the year.

The Times of Malta also reported that several infrastructural projects which were to be entirely financed by national funds including road upgrades and schools were to be shelved in an attempt to cushion the spend related to energy subsidies.

Asked whether that could mean that certain environmental projects that the government had planned would be postponed, Dalli was cryptic and reiterated that the projects that were important for the country would be pursued.

During an MCESD meeting on Tuesday, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana told the social partners that for the upcoming budget the government was committed to keeping its finances under control while protecting the most vulnerable in society.

When asked whether certain capital projects would be shelved or postponed, Caruana said that projects financed through EU funds would go on as planned. He did not say what would happen to other projects fully financed by the government.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday after launching the public consultation document on the National Strategy for the Environment, Dalli reiterated government's commitment to maintain stability in the prices of energy and fuel.

"We are witnessing in Europe how governments are now taking on the burden of higher electricity prices after first allowing the higher prices to burden families and businesses... from day one we [the Maltese government] took the decision to keep prices stable and that will remain a priority," she said.