Abela on energy subsidies: ‘We gave our word in 2014: prices will remain stable’

Prime Minister Robert Abela says Labour will keep energy prices stable with subsidies despite warnings from Brussels and IMF to start cutting down on government spending to cushion global prices

Robert Abela
Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has doubled down on Labour’s guarantees to keep subsidising the price of energy and fuels, despite calls for cautious spending from the European Commission and the World Bank.

Abela referred to warnings from the European Commission and the IMF to start preparing an exit strategy for the administration’s annual subsidies on fuel and gas prices.

“€350 million is certainly an enormous figure... but our plan is not austerity, but investment in infrastructure, businesses and people. When one considers our future investments in energy, it will be a plan like this country has never seen,” Abela said.

“The PN is telling us that the price of energy must be at par with the international market price. The newspaper columnists mirroring the establishment are saying the same. So is the European Commission.

“But we gave you our word – ever since 2014, we have kept energy prices stable. And we will keep our promise,” Abela said to applause from his audience at the Marsa Labour party club.

He attacked the PN’s proposal to privatise the distribution of electricity. “That is a sure plan to raise prices,” Abela said.

Instead, Abela said his administration will focus on a second interconnector to Sicily, the waste-to-energy plant in Magħab, and an offshore wind energy project. “These investments will give us a lower cost of energy and a clean source of energy. The solution is better investment, not shifting the burden of the cost onto consumers,” Abela said.

Abela also appealed for a continuation of dialogue with the Malta Union of Teachers in a bid to resolve an impasse on teachers’ salaries.

Malta’s teachers will go on strike on Monday, 27 November, over disagreements with the government on a pending collective agreement.

Abela said it would not be his socialist administration to deny an important cohort of workers such as teachers to be left without suitable remuneration. “Militant action is a thing of a past, and I believe we have a very good offer for teachers. Social dialogue is the key to improvement,” the PM said.