[WATCH] Soft drinks price to go up as part of waste-return incentive, Muscat reveals

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says price of soft drinks in plastic bottles will go up in a bid to incentivise return of plastic bottles¨• 70% of budget measures derived from Labour Party election manifesto

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

The price of soft drinks in plastic bottles will be raised in Monday’s budget as part of a measure offering incentives for the return of plastic bottles, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

“The price of soft drinks will go up, yes, but when done you will be able to return that bottle to an automated machine which will give you the money back when you return the bottle,” he said.

Muscat, who was addressing a political activity in Ghaxaq this morning, said that when Malta joined the EU, the country had been forced to phase out glass bottles because that system had been deemed to stifle competition.

“At least then you hardly saw any glass bottles lying around, whereas mow, when you look around, all you see are waste dumps full of plastic bottle all over the country,” he said. “We will now be offering an incentive for returning plastic bottles, as had been the case with glass bottles.”

Muscat said that 70 percent of all the budget measures to be announced in Monday’s budget speech were derived directly from the Labour Party’s electoral manifesto,

“Tomorrow we will also be announcing that we predict the government will be recording a surplus in its finances even this year and next year, testimony to our sound economic policies,” he said.

He said that although many people would expect a first budget after a landslide election victory to introduce tough measures, Monday’s budget would continue to build on the Labour government’s decision to base its policies on the economy and not on political motivation.

“Tomorrow’s budget will be the first-ever budget since before 2004 to be outside the control and supervision of the European Union, because the EU now trusts us to lead our country on a sound economic footing,” he said.

Muscat said it was imperative to tackle waste management seriously, and that was the reason why a technical committee had been set up to consider the best possible solution for Malta.

“And while the opposition is insisting it does not want to participate on this committee – saying it does not want to be part of the decision-making process, I am pleased to announce that Dr Harry Vassallo, former chairman of Alternattiva Demokratika, will be joining the committee,” he said.

Muscat said this would be the first budget where the surplus – not deficit – would be discussed, because the administration had shown it was possible for the government to increase social benefits and reduce taxes without spending more money than was coming in.

“It is because of our economic policy that we managed – in our first legislature – to pay off all the debt that the previous Nationalist governments had left behind them,” he said.

Muscat said the new opposition leader Adrian Delia had been speaking about the surplus and questioning how it was being spent.

“It is very easy to see how we are spending the surplus,” he said. “We are using to pay off the national debt, to build more old people’s homes, to offer IVF treatment to anyone in need, to offer free childcare services, to reduce electricity bills and to raise pensions, to mention but a few of the measures we have introduced.”

Muscat said the government had started to address long-standing issues with back-pay due to dock workers, police officers and former services members. He said the plan was to continue to settling the debt slowly but regularly, without going beyond the government coffers’ limits.

The Labour Party leader said that the budget would continue to address a number of crucial issues, including pensions, health services and unemployment.

IVF treatment

Muscat said he could not understand the opposition’s position on certain, as when it had presented a motion in parliament earlier this week against a government legal notice on IVF treatment.

“We had realised the existing legislation discriminated against certain people, putting the government in apposition to help one woman but not another, based on their personal lives,” he said.

“In the past election we appealed to the public to give us a mandate to do away with this discrimination, and that is what we are doing.”

A visibly-incensed Muscat said such discrimination, based on the personal life and sexual orientation of an individual was stupid.

“This is like refusing someone a hip replacement surgery because they have blue eyes and we believe strongly that such discrimination is totally unacceptable,” he said.

“We said that women undergoing IVF treatment, even abroad, be eligible to 100 hours of paid leave, but the opposition – which touts itself as the party of Catholics and “Latini” – came out against this measure in a clear case of discrimination against a very small section of society.”

Muscat said the government would not stand for such discrimination and would continue to be at the forefront of civil liberties and values.

“The difference between the parties is now – as evidenced by the opposition’s actions – no longer one of socialists and nationalists, but it is now a case of conservatives against liberal progressives,” he said.

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