[WATCH] Partnership with Alibaba Group would be game-changer for future generations – Muscat

The Prime Minister said that for the first time in its history, the country did not need to fix problems from the past, but could work towards creating opportunities for the future

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the country was today in a position where it could plan for the future
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the country was today in a position where it could plan for the future

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning said that this week the government had edged closer to establishing a partnership between Malta and the retail commerce giant Alibaba, which he said could be a game-changer for the local gaming industry.

Speaking during a political activity in Msida, Muscat said that this week, after having “planted a seed a year and a half ago”, he had met with representatives from the Alibaba Group who he said were interested in working with Malta in the fields of data storage and gaming.

“This would be a game changer from our country because it would allow gaming companies in Malta to tap into Asian markets,” Muscat announced. “Future generations will have work opportunities because of the decisions we are taking today.”

With just over a week before the government presents its budget for 2018, Muscat focused his speech on how he believed that for the first time in the country’s history, it was focused not on fixing problems from the past, but on creating opportunities for the future.

He said that next week, government would be presenting the country with an overview of what had been achieved  so far, as well as what was in store for the coming year., while urging listening to think about what sort of discussion they would have been having before a budget, five or six years ago.

“People used to ask themselves what the government would be taking from them, but today people wonder what they will be getting from the government,” he said. “People don’t even ask whether pensions will be increasing, but by how much.”

He said stressed that this, in and of itself, represented change since people no longer subconsciously expected the government to take from them, but rather they expected it to help them move forward.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the change he spoke of had only been made possible by a number of courageous decisions taken by his administration. He said this did not however mean that there were no people suffering because they could not make ends meet.

Muscat stressed that unlike in previous years, the government’s budgets had not changed on the basis of how the general election was, insisting that it had always given as much as it could to the people. He said that with no election to worry about next year, had the budget to be presented been drawn up by “politicians”, the government would have hit people with expenses, in the hope they would forget by the time the next election comes along.

The rejected claims that Malta’s economic performance boiled down to luck, insisting that the economy having grown for five consecutive years meant it was now the new norm.

“I am confident we will be the envy of the world and this is why we are emphasising the next generation,” said Muscat, who pointed out that this was the first election year the EU had not put Malta under an Excessive Deficit Procedure due to electoral spending.

The Prime Minister however said that Malta’s success did not mean enough had been done. He said that it was well aware of the problems such as that of exploding rents and transport costs for parents whose children attended private schools.  

“We have the credentials to fix these problems,” he said, insisting that his government had managed to accomplish many things previously believed to be impossible, such as the elimination of out-of-stock medicines and lower electricity and water tariffs.

‘The only party with economic credentials’

Turning to the PN’s budget document, Muscat said it was clearly compiled by more than one person since it contained contradictory arguments in different parts of the document and that there were also fundamental problems with the PN’s understanding of the economy.

He said that while it was claimed that the government had increased taxes to more than double the EU average in the past ten years.

“They increased taxes in the past years, every year we have been in government we have reduced income tax,” he said.

He referred to criticism of government employing too many people, yet he said the government was also receiving criticism for not having enough care workers or LSAs.

On housing, Muscat said the PN document stated there had been an “explosion in applications for social housing”.

“I checked it out and it turns out that in 2012, applications for social housing were 893. Last they went down to 637. What has been said, is factually incorrect,” said Muscat.  

He said the document also referred to wages decreasing, yet “in another paragraph it said that they only increased by 1%. “They have either increased or they didn’t”.

Muscat also underscored the fact that government, as it had done during the last legislature with the appointments of Judges and Magistrate, had relinquished the power to arbitrarily appoint ambassadors, and the chairmen of regulatory authorities, who would now be scrutinised first by parliament.

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