Introspection needed, Muscat tells business in wake of Caruana Galizia murder

In a pre-recorded message to EY conference while he is in Dubai plugging the sale of passports scheme, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insists Malta is a stable democracy where rule of law reigns

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing the EY conference in a pre-recorded message
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing the EY conference in a pre-recorded message

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressed EY’s annual business attractiveness conference via a recorded message.

Facing one of his biggest crises in years – the death of a journalist in a car-bomb – Muscat was not in Malta to speak from the podium. He was in Dubai, addressing one of the Henley citizenship conferences he is contractually bound to attend, to plug Malta’s passport sale.

“Our image of the stable country that we are has suffered,” Muscat said, in his reference to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, one of his main critics. “Ironically [the EY survey] tells us a different story… the Malta it shows is a peaceful, safe democracy, and rule of law is as strong as in any EU country.

“I acknowledge the need for introspection and even more improvements. This horrific murder does not define us as a nation. More than ever we must be united and send out a message that this is a horrific exception,” Muscat said.

He referred to the Labour administration’s last Budget as the “best ever” having seen no increase in taxation and instead offering a decrease in VAT thresholds for small businesses. A surplus, which was registered in the accounts of the extended government, came through the revenue from the sale of passports he was promoting in Dubai.

“Our problems in jobs does not stem from unemployment but because employers are not finding enough employees,” Muscat said, adding that the national jobs agency JobsPlus will be addressing this challenge.

“Nurturing a well-trained workforce in digital economy will become the new factor of production. The new digital a revolution is likely to automate the work of a significant amount of knowledge workers, raising the bar in re-skilling. New jobs will require better soft skills and a high level of cognitive and interpersonal skills which AI tech will not be able to match. Education will have to begin preparing for this now.”

He said the issue of transport raised in last year’s EY conference was addressed through a seven-year roads construction programme.

And he also dubbed claims of a property bubble, mainly informed by rising house prices, a ‘conspiracy’.

Tia Reljic contributed to this report

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