[WATCH] We won’t be held back from enacting reforms for a modern Malta – Muscat

The Prime Minister said that a party's ability to enact necessary reforms will in the future become a characteristic as important as its ability to create and distribute wealth

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

In the coming years, political parties in Malta will be judged by their ability to enact the necessary reforms to modernise the country, and not simply by the creation and distribution of wealth, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday.

“The issue is not going to be which party is capable of creating and distributing wealth, but also which party is capable of making this country a modern one and which party can enact the necessary reforms,” he said.

In the last nine months, Muscat said his government had enacted two “stratospheric reforms” in the granting same-sex couples the right to marry, and 16-year-olds the right to vote. Both he said would go down in history and would be remembered for years to come.

The Prime Minister said that over the coming years, the government would be working to reform of the country’s IVF law, granting more rights to minorities, managing migration more effectively, as well as updating the constitution. 

“These are the reforms nobody will lay the red carpet for, but for which it is the time for action. It is the moment that this generation gives the next one a country ready for the future,” he said.

Muscat was speaking during a political activity in Rabat, Gozo, where he reflected on the five years since he became Prime Minister for the first time.

Historically, he said, Maltese governments have been proficient at one of two basic principles: creating wealth, and distributing it.

“I believe the nation always believed that the Labour Party was the best choice when it came to distribution of wealth,” said Muscat. He pointed to the introduction of a various social services introduced by Labour governments as proof of this predisposition to help people.

On the other hand unemployment had always risen under Labour administrations, he said.

“If you distribute without creating you are going to create a system that is not sustainable,” he continued, adding that the Nationalist Party had an opposite reputation, and had addressed this in the 80s.

It did this, he said, by entering the Labour Party’s “territory” by speaking about social issues that were important to the country’s workers. “This is what the country wanted, to be assured that wealth was being created, but that it was also being distributed.”

The PN’s move to the left had led to a long hegemony. One which had showed him that the Labour Party needed to do the same by moving into the PN’s territory when it came to creating wealth.  

He said that prior to his election in 2013, many were sceptical of Labour’s economic competence, but despite this, his government had proven its detractors wrong.

He said that while the Labour Party was now the obvious answer to wealth creation and distribution, the PN had lost both dimensions.

From mediocrity to the best in Europe

Muscat said that over the last five years, the country had gone from one that was content with mediocrity to one that was among the best in Europe.

 “We are on journey to make our country the envy of the world,” said Muscat, insisting that rather than being overly ambitious, such an attitude was rooted in the talent at Malta’s disposal.

Muscat reiterated that the movement he led was driven by the desire to ensure social mobility, social justice, national unity and equal opportunities.

“Whenever we have doubts about whether we are going we return to these principles, they are our moral compass,” Muscat said.

The first pre-requisite for all of this, said Muscat, was economic growth. “The entire discussion about distribution of wealth is ridiculous if there is no wealth to be distributed.”

He reiterated that his administration was a pro-business one, and emphasised the role it played in instilling confidence in local businesses through its macroeconomic policy. “We are in favour of businesses so that when we need to give a social service we have income from tax to subsidise that service.”

He said that over the past five years of Labour, the government had strived to bring investment to Malta and rather than wait for opportunities had proactively sought them out.

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