‘Labour must start thinking like a government’ – Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says Labour must start think like a government and leave behind it the opposition ‘comfort zone’

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the biggest challenge that the Labour Party is facing is that it must start thinking like a government, and leave behind it the comfort zone of the opposition.

"There is no longer the comfort zone of the opposition, which some might have been comfortable in. Government is decidedly less comfortable," Muscat said, speaking during the closing address of the PL's General Conference on Sunday.

"I believe that this is the biggest challenge in politics: being in the driving seat and making decisions based on what one believes is the best option," Muscat said.

"We need to show, without arrogance but with firmness, that this movement is no longer simply the movement of change, but the movement of a natural government that will represent the Maltese people for the coming years."

"Some might be missing the opposition. I am not," Muscat said lightly. "I urge you to not miss it either because we must become accustomed to government. We need not only become accustomed to the burden of responsibility, but welcome it. I accept it gladly."

During the speech, Muscat reiterated much of Labour's upcoming plans pertaining to capital projects, and governmental administrative reform.

The Labour leader said that in the coming weeks, the government would be issuing tenders for two casinos (one of them preferential towards a Gozo-based casino), the Gozo cruise liner terminal, an expression of interest for the former shipbuilding location in the Grand Harbour, and an expression of interest for land reclamation projects.

Muscat also dedicated a considerable portion of his speech to emphasizing the need to address excessively bureaucratic systems which he said are stifling and discouraging foreign investment.

"We have been speaking to investors regarding projects currently stuck in bureaucratic procedures and we are trying to find ways to give them new life," Muscat said, adding that in several instances, projects ground to a halt simply because of lack of willingness by someone in government to make decisions.

"It is unacceptable that private enterprises - investors with capital ready and willing to invest - are left hanging simply because someone is afraid of making a decision because of criticism he or she might face," Muscat said.

"We will not accommodate developers or investors, but we cannot accept that people willing to invest have to chase government around to be allowed to invest and create jobs."

"We want to create the best economic cycle that this government has ever seen since Independence," Muscat announced.

To this end, Muscat said that by the end of May, government would be launching anew the previously suspended Permanent Residents' Scheme, which was originally intended as a scheme through which foreigners could invest in local property.

Speaking about residence difficulties being faced by high net worth foreigners seeking to invest locally, Muscat also announced government plans to elevate VISA and residence departments into an authority "that will look towards the business sector in the most accessible and efficient way possible."

"It is unacceptable that people seeking to invest millions in Malta are either left without service by the government departments concerned, or are treated as undesirables," Muscat affirmed.

Setting his sights on excessive governmental red tape, Muscat said that "no deficit reduction programme can be sustainable without economic growth. Such growth neither stems from words alone, or excessive spending. It stems primarily from private enterprise, and those enterprises we are speaking to are telling us: free us from bureaucracy."

It is with this in mind, Muscat said, that the government will be appointing a Commissioner for the Simplification of Bureaucracy in the coming weeks. "This will be a person with political power and a clear mandate to shear off unnecessary bureaucracy wherever it might be."

Muscat also noted "winds of change in Europe" that is seeing the emergence of what he described as "the common sense approach that advocates the need for economic expansion."

Emphasising that while the Labour government does not believe in limitless spending or uncapped national debts, "it is becoming clear that the austerity programme approach that has been advocated for several years has failed."

"We welcome the change in direction that seems to be blowing through Europe," Muscat, also noting with pleasure the impending appointment of former MEP and "one of my colleagues in the European Parliament" Enrico Letta has Italian Prime Minister.

Muscat also sent out a stern warning to abusive employers - particularly in the Security, Cleaning Services, and Health Assistants sectors - that abusive and precarious employment will no longer be tolerated.

"I want to warn the small minority of employers who think they are being cunning by trying to exploit their workers. In the coming years, and in future government contracts, these games won't be tolerated."

Muscat said that even those employers who are free from contractual obligations towards their employees should not believe they are free from scrutiny.

"The Director of Work is observing all that is going on. While we might not be able to take legal steps, the track record of whoever is concerned will be kept firmly in mind," he warned.

"You are still in time to give us a clear sign that you are willing to work with us," Muscat said.

Muscat also reaffirmed his commitment to leading a government "as if it had won the election by only one vote" and announced that July will see the launch of a government consultation process that will be upheld every six months.

"In the last few weeks, government ministers have been bombarded by work. But that is no excuse to become detached from the people," Muscat said, adding that the consultation process will ensure that "nobody is allowed to lock himself away an ivory tower, comforted by power."

"We will not come before you only before the election. You will find us ready and willing to listen throughout the whole five years," the Labour leader said.

Muscat also defended government appointments of both Labour supporters and individuals not affiliated with the Labour Party, insisting that this is what the PL's electoral slogan of 'Malta Taghna Lkoll' truly means.

"I am ready and willing to work with everyone who is willing to work with us and who remains loyal to the electoral programme upon which we were elected," Muscat said. "I am proud of the appointment of people of different political convictions and I will defend them publicly and proudly."

"Similarly, I will defend the choice of labour supporters who will be doing their part in support of the country. Because this is also what Malta Taghna Lkoll means. In the same way I will defend the appointment of people who don't agree with us, I will defend the appointments of those who do."

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Emmanuel Mallia
If Muscat wants to govern like a movement, he should introduce online discussion groups and possibly, web based think tanks, so anyone can feel free and easy to express their ideas, concerns, doubts and suggestions, indeed any form of criticism.
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The Prime Minister's declared intention to cut red tape is welcome....more then welcome infact, and he deserves full support in his efforts. veryone stands to gain from it. However it is not only red tape per se that needs to be cut, it is also the mind-set that surrounds it that needs to be rooted out and changed. The mind-set that prefers finding new obstacles rather the finding sensible solutions! The mind-set that favours passing the buck rather than taking a firm decision! The mind-set that favours little empire building rather than genuine inter-departmental cooperation! The mind-set that overcomplicates rather than simplifies! The mind-set that looks at everything with suspicion rather than attempting to understand things and accept them fotr what they are! The mind-set that introduces useless rules and conditions that are not even required by EU regulation, rather than assessing our strengths and weaknesses and addressing the needs of our client base! It is that mind-set, that comes through in so many little things and every sphere of our economy, that needs to be changed. And yes, in this case it has to come from thre top, and with some authoroty and forcefullness, otherwise change will not happen.
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The Prime Minister's declared intention to cut red tape is welcome....more then welcome infact, and he deserves full support in his efforts. veryone stands to gain from it. However it is not only red tape per se that needs to be cut, it is also the mind-set that surrounds it that needs to be rooted out and changed. The mind-set that prefers finding new obstacles rather the finding sensible solutions! The mind-set that favours passing the buck rather than taking a firm decision! The mind-set that favours little empire building rather than genuine inter-departmental cooperation! The mind-set that overcomplicates rather than simplifies! The mind-set that looks at everything with suspicion rather than attempting to understand things and accept them fotr what they are! The mind-set that introduces useless rules and conditions that are not even required by EU regulation, rather than assessing our strengths and weaknesses and addressing the needs of our client base! It is that mind-set, that comes through in so many little things and every sphere of our economy, that needs to be changed. And yes, in this case it has to come from thre top, and with some authoroty and forcefullness, otherwise change will not happen.
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Dear Prim Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat, It was interesting reading your drive for a better future, however the fact in my opinion is people voted New Labour because we the people were fed up of negative little things. In my case this morning I woke up with chest pain due to excessive noise starting from 10 a.m. and still going late to 2.30 a.m. Now I reported to the police and either they had permission or we the simple citizens are back to square one. What is the point having a socialist council and the Sindku get promoted to a lot of department management when he can not decide to control the well being of his local citizens? Who is caring for the sick, the elder, those babies, who have no control, the dieing and those who need to wake up to go to work in the morning. This is not right. I say enjoy yourself but let the silent majority live in peace and not end up with chest pain in the morning while those celebrating end up with a strong headache because of heavy drinking.
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Emmanuel Mallia
Labour must start thinking like a government’ and its top officials , ministers and secretaries start replying to emails !!!!!
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Government Departments are still being run by the same people Labour had criticized when in Opposition. The VAT Department rings to my mind. The now famous Corruption Scandal. Non of the Directors resigned then. And non were asked to resign now or at least transferred to another Department. People voted for a change in Government and this included change of people who had high responsibilities accounted for and never delivered.