Updated | Access to information vital to success of utilisation of EU funds - PN

Opposition says access to information, feasible deadlines for application and implementation of projects are key to making best use of funds.

Opposition MPs Antoine Borg and Marthese Portelli, Photo by Ray Attard
Opposition MPs Antoine Borg and Marthese Portelli, Photo by Ray Attard

Adds reaction by the government

The Opposition today published its recommendations and remarks on government's consultation document on the EU funds available in the next seven years.

Access to information and ensuring that applicants are given enough time to prepare and implement projects are key to making best use of the funds, Opposition MPs said.

Antoine Borg said the PN is committed to ensure that the government makes the best use of the €1.1 billion in EU funds achieved under the previous PN administration.

"The funds are available but government must make sure it uses the funds to strengthen the country's economy and competitiveness by creating new jobs and investing in human resources and education," the MP said.

Among the PN's major concerns, is government's failure to include the private sector as a beneficiary in a number of fields including health and the environment.

On education and job creation, MP Marthese Portelli pointed out that investment should "go beyond the traditional fields in research and innovation."

In its document, the Opposition recommended the creation of guidelines to identify specific areas where the €72 million earmarked for research should be invested, including the humanities and social sciences.

The Opposition also recommended the creation of a satellite receiving station and further investment in ICT infrastructure.

Portelli also underlined the importance of strengthening competitiveness and called on government to invest in SMEs, including in the tourism, creative and cultural sectors, "not only to attract more tourists but also to generate employment and economic growth."

She added that the Opposition was concerned over the limitations set by the government's policy, adding that "target groups do not include private institutions." 

Turning to the environment, Portelli highlighted the need to encourage the use of renewable energies and energy saving measures in housing, especially in residences with limited space.

The PN's document also recommends the creation of industrial heritage sites, which Portelli said could be achieved by granting funds to NGOs.

The government's proposals, the MP said, also fail to address the restoration of fortifications and the protection of marine biodiversity.

Moreover, the Opposition is suggesting further funding for urban development projects beyond the harbour area, especially villages with historic centres such as Rabat, Naxxar and touristic centres such as St Paul's Bay.  

In a reaction, the Ministry for EU affairs said the planning process for use of EU funds was at advanced stage.

It added that the government had launched a consultation programme, including with the opposition, and the Ministry was not at the final stages of negotiations with the European Union to finalise the partenrahip agreement and operational programmes for the coming six years.

“The government has clear plans and concrete projects on how to utilise the EU funds to create wealth,” the ministry said.