Muscat with message of optimism amid criticism over garnishee order

The government deserves a second mandate not only because it has kept its promises, but because of what it has planned for future, said Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that despite success achieved, the country's best days are yet to come
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that despite success achieved, the country's best days are yet to come

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that Malta is capable of achieving more than other counties and despite the “success already achieved, still has its best days ahead of it.”

“We want to make the leap in quality that will define the new generation, the leap that will make what we achieved so far pale in significance,” said Muscat.

The Prime Minister was addressing supporters at a political activity in Paolo, where he gave a message of optimism amid widespread criticism of Labour Party deputy leader Chris Cardona’s decision to hit blogger and The Malta Independent journalist Daphne Caruana Galzia. Muscat made no reference to the issue.

He said that despite Malta’s small size, it was managing to attract investment while other much larger countries were struggling. “They have not managed to achieve half of what this small rock has achieved,” he said.

“We must conclude therefore that Malta is a special country, one built on discipline, hard work and flexibility, and awareness of the fact that nobody owes us a living,” continued Muscat.

The Prime Minister pointed to Malta’s unemployment figures, which are currently at an all-time low. “Not only have we provided work to practically anyone who wants it’s, but we have at least 30,000 foreign workers in Malta, three-villages worth, who are helping our economy grow even further,” he added.   

On rents - which have risen drastically around the island over the past three years - Muscat said that this was a new problem and one brought on by “wealth and not depravity.”

Taking the South as an example, Muscat said that he was aware that many families have seen their rent increase by a large amount over a short period of time.

“It’s obvious, the South is no longer abandoned. Rent is low when nobody wants to live in a place, but today, thanks to this government, people want to live in the South once more.”

He said that there is very limited space for the development of new housing that can accommodate the influx of workers. “We agreed that we can’t just build more housing on ODZ, unlike some,” he said, referring to story which appeared in il-Kulhadd this morning, where it was alleged that Nationalist Party MP Toni Bezzina has submitted an application with the Planning Authority for the development of a villa on ODZ land.

Turning to the health sector, he highlighted the government’s “achievements,” such the reduction in out-of-stock medicines and the investment being made in the sector in general.

“So far, we have only given the country what should have been the standard, but over the next years we will go far beyond that,” he said. “Up until now we have lived in a country where if you had a complicated illness going abroad was the only option. We want a situation where if someone has a complicated illness abroad they come here.”

In addition to this, he spoke of the fact that the country’s national debt has been reduced, while the same has happened with taxes and people’s electricity bills.

The tourism sector was another area where the government’s work had paid off, said Muscat who added that the government reaching its 2 million yearly arrivals target a year early only meant that the bar would be raised even higher for 2017. “The game will now change, it will no longer be about numbers, because, space will become an issue.” He said that so far, government’s strategy has been to increase arrivals in the winter months. “As we reach our maximum capacity however, we must attract tourists who are willing to pay more for a better product.”

This he said, would result in wages for going up. “They will have to increase, especially in the Tourism industry, and this will lead young people to be attracted to a career in the sector.”

To achieve this, Muscat spoke of the government’s plan to set up a new ITS campus at smart city. “We will be able to do this because the government has earned €60 million from the ITS site, the largest amount ever made by a government for the sale of a piece of land,” he said.  

Muscat criticised the opposition for its negativity, adding that it was resorting to provocation because it lacked ideas. He warned supporters not to fall for this and to instead offer “the hand of friendship.”

“They are very good at pointing problems and people trust them to point out problems, but they trust us to solve them,” said Muscat. 

 He concluded by saying that in the coming election, the government will not be asking people for a second mandate because it has carried out what it promised. “We will ask for a new mandate because of what we have planned for the future because we know that there are still problems and that the country still needs this government,” he said. 

‘Government’s only specialty is corruption’ – PN

The Nationalist Party dismissed Muscat’s comments, arguing that his government’s only specialty is corruption.

“The reason why the international press keeps mentioning Malta is because this government is the most corrupt one in the country’s history,” the PN said in a statement. “Our country requires honest and clean leadership for it to return to a state of normality. That is why the public will answer Simon Busuttil’s call for a national demonstration in favour of democracy and liberty next Sunday.” 

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