[WATCH] Get a grip and lead your party, Muscat tells Opposition leader

The Prime Minister also announced that requirements for being prescribed medical cannabis are set to be further relaxed

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had called on Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia to put his foot down to internal party pressures, rather than allowing himself to be shaped by them.

Muscat was addressing a political activity in Santa Venera this morning where he referred to the wealth created by the country’s economy as having been a collective effort involving the whole country, except the Opposition.

“The opposition has always chosen to be short-sighted, but what fills be confidence is that when the Opposition chose to take this position the nation penalised it and rewarded the Government.”

Too often, he said, had the Opposition been perceived by the nation to have “crossed a line”, when it chose to tarnish Malta’s name abroad. Muscat said people could see that this was because it was jealous of the "progress made by the country in such a short period of time".

Despite the PN's position, Muscat insisted that its leader Adrian Delia was not on the same page, adding however that he did not yet have the power within his party to stand his ground.

“Get a grip, get your party and your opposition and lead them where you want to go rather than allowing them to lead you where they want,” Muscat told Delia, adding a change in direction for the Opposition would benefit both the Government and the country. Failure to do so, would only result in a worse electoral result, he added.

Turning to a resolution in the European Parliament this Tuesday on the rule of law in Malta, Muscat said the Government respected all of Europe’s institutions, including the Commission, the council and the Parliament.

“But nobody can expect us to say yes to everything,” he continued. Muscat explained that Malta would be taking note of issues raised and would seek to implement the necessary changes were deemed fit. He said it was hypocritical however, for Nationalist MEPs to request a debate on the rule of law in Malta, and to then vote against sending a mission to investigate the rule of law and other failings in Hungary.

Muscat said he would be looking forward to welcoming the mission. “Every time they come and we speak to them, we end up being told we’re right.”

The PANA committee, after coming to Malta, had confirmed that the country’s tax-system was compliant with EU and OECD standards

Muscat also pointed out that it was hypocritical for Nationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech to speak during the debate when he was probably the only MEP to have been named as an “intermediary in the Panama Papers”.

By the PN’s same reasoning, he said Zammit Dimech should not speak at the debate and should resign, since he could stand up and criticise people for using a system of which he was ultimately a part.

Easier access to medical cannabis prescriptions

Muscat said that despite the challenges, the Government was continuing with its work to make necessary changes that impacted people’s lives. He said that Cabinet had this week approved legal changes to laws that would allow medical cannabis to be prescribed to those who need it without requiring them to jump through as many hurdles as they do now.,

He said that while the current system only allowed for specialists to prescribe such treatment, the changes would mean that GPs would also be able to do so, provided that they are approved medicines.

Muscat clarified that the changes would only concern medical cannabis, and that the debate on recreational cannabis was to be had separately. In addition to making it easier for citizens to get their hands on the medicine, the Prime Minister also noted that with similar changes made to legislation in Germany, and a number of other factors, the European market was quickly growing.   

“We want to be there without fear, without an inferiority complex and with the right regulations,” he said, insisting that it was the Government’s intention was to develop the sector to the point where such products were also developed in Malta.

This, he said, was in line with other advances made in the sector by local authorities, with Malta’ medicines agency being one of 8 European agencies allowed to carry out testing on behalf of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Finally, on the collective agreement signed with week between the Government and the Malta Union of Teachers, Muscat said that Government had given teachers their first substantial wage increase in 20 years.

He said the profession had been neglected and had fallen behind in recent years, but given that it could now afford it, the Government would be ensuring that both the work conditions, and the standards in the sector are raised, to the benefit of the younger generations and ultimately the country. 

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