Delia: Government being dishonest in claiming it is paying off debt

The Nationalist Party leader said that in four years, the government had increased the country’s debt by a billion Euro

Louise Tedesco (left) with Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia (right)
Louise Tedesco (left) with Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia (right)

Adrian Delia has said that claims by the government that it was using the country’s fiscal surplus to pay off debts racked up by past Nationalist administrations were “not true”.

“In four and a half years, the country’s debt increased by a thousand million Euro. A billion Euro,” he said, adding that one would not be able to find these figures on government or Labour Party publications.

Moreover, he said that while the government had announced a surplus of 1.1% of GDP in 2016, the figure had now been revised to 0.8%, with an 0.5% surplus expected next year, pointing out that there was a clear “declining trend”.

Speaking during an interview on current affairs programme Bejn Tnjen on Net TV, the PN leader said that despite the surplus pensioners had only been given a €2 increase, a figure that was insignificant when one considered the price of expenses such as medicines.

He said the budget had also failed to address the real problem with pensions - their sustainability over the coming years.

Turning to traffic congestion, Delia said that while the measures announced by the government were positive, they would hardly be solving the problem.

“Has the government said anything about a long-term plan?” he asked, stressing that it appeared as though the government would only be setting up an agency to carryout roadworks next year. “When will these seven years be starting?”

Furthermore, he insisted that fixing the country’s roads would not be solving the traffic problem, and criticised the current administration for committing itself to spending €700 million “before determining what is plan would be going forward”.

He said that with the government failing to plan for any new economic sectors, or for how the tourism sector would develop, it could not make adequate plans.

“Let’s start talking about a solution. This a real problem.  Let’s start discussing, together, what we need for the next ten years,” he added, insisting that while the government was “only talking about what it would be doing next year”, abroad, roads were planned over 30 to 40-year periods.  

 “We have a serious problem and we haven’t even recognised it,” he said, adding that road planners and engineers were not being consulted in finding a way forward.

On Education, Delia said the budget had not acknowledged there was a problem, and that it was not true that the government was employing more teachers.

He the budget had announced that new schools would be built, however they were the same schools the government pledged to build last year.

“Let’s at least take our students education seriously. It’s good to fund PhDs, but let us at least ask why our students feel it is better for them to stop studying and leave school early,” said Delia, who questioned whether students were in fact quitting because “they had not faith in Malta’s education system”.

He said that wherever the surplus was going, it definitely wasn’t going towards investing in the country’s future.

Asked what the public could expect from his budget reply next week, Delia said it would find an Opposition that did not criticise simply for the sake of doing so, but rather it would be showing how it could improve people’s lives.

“The PN will criticise this government with no plan or direction, but it is ready to help the government, not because it isn’t a strong opposition, but because Malta, and its people come first,” he said. “We are willing to help because we have an interest in the common good