Gonzi tackles migration policy, divorce and spring hunting

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has again defended Malta’s policy on migration after the recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgement fined Malta €12,000 for excessive detention of an Algerian immigrant. This morning he also talked about Spring hunting and divorce.

Lawrence Gonzi was the only politician speaking this morning.  Joseph Muscat has disappeared from the scene.  A rather atypical move from the Opposition.  Speaking during an interview with Trevor Degiorgio on Radio 101, the Maltese Prime Minister claimed that an EC spokesperson has said that the way in which Italy had settled with Libya was “a model on which other EU member states should follow.

“The EC has now confirmed that the strategy taken by Malta and Italy is the right one,” he added.

“At the same time, we should see that immigrants have to be treated humanely, both in Malta and Libya,” Gonzi added.

Gonzi reiterated the AFM’s stand that the migrants which were intercepted by a Maltese patrol boat had chosen “voluntarily” to go either to Libya or to Malta.

“You cannot imagine somebody not deciding voluntarily in such a difficult situation,” Gonzi claimed. “What scandalises me is the fact that there was a pregnant woman on that boat.”

Gonzi explained how the number of illegal immigrants had come down this year, and “we welcome that. “We are compliant with our international conventions”, he added.

“Algerians should not qualify for humanitarian protection”, he insisted.

Speaking on divorce, (the programme was recorded on Friday morning, before the PN’s executive council meeting in the evening), Gonzi explained how this was not the first legislature where divorce was mentioned.

“In 1996, during the PL administration, the government had set up a National Commission for the Future of the Family, which had proposed divorce. The PN had opposed that,” Gonzi recalled.

He reiterated his mantra that when one mentioned divorce, “we are in fact mentioning the family.

“The family is in the PN’s DNA,” Gonzi claimed. “Now a family had broken down, and the husband and wife have gone their separate ways.

“For the Maltese family, including those who are passing through difficulties, what is the solution?,” Gonzi asked.  “We have to continue to seek solutions,” he insisted.

“However, at the end, the decisions have to be taken by the electorate,” the PM added.

Asked about news reports that the EC was going to take action against Malta for proposing a limited spring hunting season in 2011, Gonzi claimed that this was “not news. I don’t know how the papers choose their stories,” Gonzi claimed. “We have known about this since February,” he revealed.

“In February we had advised them that next year, we would open the hunting season for 3 months, with a take of 25,000 birds,” Gonzi said.

He explained how the Commission had “asked us for the methodology that we used for this. We have given them the scientific studies.

“At that time, the EC had already told us that it reserved the right to take action,” Gonzi added. “We’re still waiting for a response from the Commission,” he lamented.

Asked about the pre-budget document, and whether it was possible for the government to reduce deficit under 3% of GDP while keeping social services without taking austerity measures, Gonzi repeated his mantra that the solution was to make the economy grow.

“When I was finance Minister I had introduced the pre-budget document which sets Malta in the international scene,” he added.

He explained how Malta was an open economy which was subject to financial pressures from decisions taken from other countries.

“Look at what was happening at ST and the controversy about wages?” he asked. “It has to do with globalisation!” Gonzi insisted.

He explained how when he visited the Waterfront earlier this week, he spoke with cruise liner operators who told him that 60 % of their tourists came from Spain and Italy.

Both of them had recently announced austerity measures, and you know what that means!” he insisted.

“We want to reduce deficit, we want the economy to grow but we do not to forget our social conscience,” Gonzi insisted.

“You don’t have to be a University professor to reduce deficit. You only reduce your expenditure or else increase your income,” Gonzi explained.

“Sometimes, like a family does to buy a house or a car, we have to borrow money from the bank,” he added.

“The only thing you have to do is either to see the economy grow or reduce spending,” Gonzi explained. “That’s why we chose not to subsidise the Drydocks but to privatise it,” he claimed.

The Government’s aim, Gonzi said, was to reduce Malta’s deficit to 2.9% of GDP and to reduce the country’s deficit-to-GDP ratio from 69% at present.

“For three consecutive years, the PN has reduced income tax, at one time even losing €10 million in income,” Gonzi insisted.

However, questioned about the Labour Opposition’s criticism for not reducing income tax as promised in the last PN electoral programme, Gonzi changed his tack.

“The Opposition is being irresponsible by proposing to the Government to do something that would lead to disaster if implemented now,” Gonzi claimed

“The legislature still has three years to go,” he added.  “We have already implemented a number of these promises and in the right time we will implement this too,” Gonzi pledged.

“If the ST bosses had to hear what the Opposition is asking the Government to do now, they would cry out in laughter,” he claimed.

“During the past 20 years, the PL has given us disastrous advice – not to join EU, not to join the Euro, and devaluating the Maltese lira,” Gonzi contended. “If we had implemented the last advice, the people would have had less spending power,” he claimed

Asked whether there would be less spending by Government departments, Gonzi was less forthcoming in his reply. “There are some aspects of government spending which are vital, such as health, education and social benefits,” he claimed. “However, there are certain things which we can do,” Gonzi added.

He explained how the Pembroke primary school, and the Mosta school after that, had been designed to make use of the least energy possible .

Moreover, the introduction of PV schemes by the Government with assistance from the EU “that will lead to less energy consumption in the power stations, thus using less fuel,” Gonzi insisted.

He also explained how at Maghtab energy would be produced from waste.

Finally, Gonzi praised the workers’ acceptance of the ST agreement after another round of negotiations between the Union and the management.

“Now the workers have understood the need that their decision there was for the company’ survival in Malta,” Gonzi said He thanked the workers “for understanding the situation” and the GWU for its assistance”.

ST accounted for “substantial part” of Malta’s value-added exports, Gonzi explained. He explained how two years ago, ST had moved its production plants to China.

Three years ago, ST had 2,100 workers in its Kirkop plant, but had already downsized to 1,300.

“Now the Government has persuaded ST that it was more convenient to stay in Malta than investing elsewhere. We negotiated a package of aid compatible with EU rules,” he boasted.

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Luke Camilleri
Fines should be deducted from the Minister's budget responsabile for the infringment, If needed from the entertainment funds allocated to the Ministry. Do it Gonzi Do It! Give your Ministers and their secretariats...and yours as well some form of responsability and ACCOUNTABILITY!
marthese schiavone
Kindly note that Dr Muscat was in Libja!!
This reminds me of what Saviour used to say before the elections ie to go to Bella Sicilia for a marinara instead of voting. However, later he told us he had a change of heart, something he has every right to do. It also reminds me of how Astrid loses her inclination to put pen to paper (or finger to key) before an election; again she has every right to do so. She had also explained her modus operandi in an interview and I find it hard to criticise her knowing how hard she works for what she believes in. And what about the Times’ articles? Back to MT, I still think it is the only newspaper with b...s! Keep it up.
What did you have in mind when you wrote "Joseph Muscat has disappeared from the scene.".? Don't you know that another article in this same issue explains tha JM is in Libya.? Or have your biased opinions overcome your supposedly independent reporting. “You don’t have to be a University professor to reduce deficit. You only reduce your expenditure or else increase your income,” Gonzi explained The only sensible thing that Gonzi said, but he will not reduce the expenditure as a lot of bazuzli depend on that, considering all the useless authorities,executive bodies and consultants. As regards increasing his income we are more than aware of that by the explosive rise in electricity and water bills, domestic gas, eco bills etc. you name it, we have it.