Update 2 | Opposition calls on Muscat to stick to power station promise

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reiterated tariff reduction for businesses by 2015 but is evasive on completion of new power station

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat meets workers at De La Rue (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat meets workers at De La Rue (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Power station may not meet completion date target

The Nationalist Party called on Prime Minister to “keep his pre-electoral promise to finish the new gas power station by March 2015”. Muscat had famously said that he would resign as Prime Minister if the power station was not completed by that date.

“Muscat made it clear on several occasions that the new power station will be built by March 2015 and that its construction was necessary for electricity bills to go down,” the PN said. “Whenever the Nationalist Party expressed reservations about the need for a new power station, Muscat continued insisting that the power station was necessary to reduce bills.”

“The Maltese people are expecting the Prime Minister not to go back on what he had promised. Political responsibility requires the Prime Minister to keep to his promise.” 

In a reaction, the Labour Party reiterated that the government's pledge to reduce water and electricity bills for businesses by March 2015 will be respected.
Criticising the price hike in energy bills under the PN, Labour said Busuttil was "not credible" after voting in parliament against the reduction in utility tariffs for households during Budget 2014.
"Busuttil had decried the reduction as a gimmick. Truth is that bills would have increased once again had PN been elected to government," Labour said, adding that the PN had opposed the change to gas.
"As promised, it is a Labour government that reduced the tariffs and keeping its promise as pledged during the electoral campaign. Like families benefitted from the reduction, businesses will enjoy a 25% cut next year. The Opposition leader can rest his mind on that," it said.

The promised reduction in utility tariffs for businesses will come into force in March 2015 but there is no confirmation - or denial - that the planned construction of a new power station at Delimara will be finalised by that time.

Earlier, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insisted that the planned tariffs reduction for businesses "did not only depend on the construction of a new power station".

"The cost of utility bills for businesses will go down in March 2015 as our plan does not fully depend on the construction of a new power station," Muscat told reporters.

Asked whether this was an admission that the completion of the new power station will not meet its target date, Muscat said "this is not an admission but a confirmation that tariffs will go down".

Speaking to the media after a visit to the De La Rue premises at the Bulebel Industrial Estate, Muscat also said the government, in the coming days, will communicate the "point of convergence" among all stakeholders on the local council elections.

It is not yet clear whether the 2015 and 2017 elections will take place as originally scheduled or whether these will be pushed to a later date.

"There is almost a point of convergence amongst all stakeholders on what should be done between now and 2019," Muscat said.

Asked about the planned tax rebate for private health insurance, the Prime Minister said the government wanted to encourage those who already have or are interested in having a private pension to enjoy incentives, such as tax rebates.

"The principle is that the healthcare system remains free but to also encourage those who want a private health insurance. I don't believe a person should be forced to go down that line, but those who want to will find an incentive."

Asked whether a sudden increase in demand for private heath insurance would shoot premia up, Muscat admitted there were "issues with insurance" but did not elaborate further.

More in National