Updated | At May Day rally, Muscat announces €50 million housing project financed by passport sale

The Labour Party has rallied the troops in Tritons Square for its traditional Workers’ Day mass meeting • €50 million from passport money to finance social housing project

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Updated with Joseph Muscat speech

Another 500 social housing units will be built in the coming years with an investment of €50 million that will come from passport money, Joseph Muscat said.

The investment will be additional to the €50 million earmarked for social housing in the previous legislature.

People are sporting placards with the words 'Proud Maltese' (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
People are sporting placards with the words 'Proud Maltese' (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

The Prime Minister made the announcement at the Labour Party mass meeting at Tritons Square at Valletta’s city gate, to mark Workers’ Day. 

Muscat said the government asked the National Development and Social Fund to finance the new investment and this was accepted. The fund is financed by the money derived from the Individual Investor Programme, popularly known as the passport-for-cash scheme.

People were in a party atmosphere (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
People were in a party atmosphere (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

“This movement would have added more than 1,000 social housing units because this is what prosperity with a purpose means,” he said, insisting that social housing was for those who truly needed it and not “the lazy”.

In a high-spirited speech, Muscat only made brief reference to accusations of wrongdoing by referring only to the Egrant case, involving him. He said that he had nothing to hide and reiterated his pledge to resign if any wrongdoing was found.

Labour Party supporters have rallied at Tritons Square for the traditional Workers' Day gathering (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Labour Party supporters have rallied at Tritons Square for the traditional Workers' Day gathering (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

“One year ago, the biggest political lie to ever be told was levelled towards me and my family and I insist that if a single shard of truth is found, I will leave,” he said to applause.

Thousands of Labour Party supporters gathered in Valletta, responding to Muscat's rallying call a couple of weeks ago when he said the "best reply" to the Daphne Project was 1 May.

Muscat has brushed off the revelations as recycled stories, insisting he will wait for ongoing inquiries before taking action.

Read also: Joseph Muscat refuses to speak about 17 Black and his chief of staff

Today, Muscat made no reference to findings from the Daphne Project. Not once did he mention the Nationalist Party and its current and previous leaders by name, using the collective term “others” instead.

Many in the crowd were sporting the custom-made t-shirts calling out the 'surplus', 'equality' and the 'best of times', in a replica of the t-shirt worn by social media vlogger Nas Daily.

The custom-made t-shirts ripped off social media blogger Nas Daily (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The custom-made t-shirts ripped off social media blogger Nas Daily (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Muscat urged his supporters to remain united for a better Malta in the face of those who wanted to undermine the country’s progress.

“We have to offer our hand of friendship… where others want division, we will foster unity; where others want to build walls, we will build bridges; where others want hate, we will sow love,” Muscat said, ending his speech on a poetic note reminiscent of the last mass meeting before the 1996 election when then Labour leader Alfred Sant had read out the peace prayer of St Francis.

The Labour Party will be holding another meeting on 6 June in Paola’s main square, to commemorate 10 years since Muscat became leader of the party in 2008.

Housing

Muscat said the government will shortly be publishing a White Paper to tackle the issue of rising rents.

He said the government wanted stability in the rental market. “While respecting the market we want to offer guidance to achieve a balance that respects social justice,” Muscat said.

Joseph Muscat (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Joseph Muscat (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

He insisted that dealing with social cases was not the responsibility of the private sector, which is why the government wanted to embark on another project to increase the social housing stock.

Childless couples

The Prime Minister said the Labour movement was not one to close its ears, mind and heart to the suffering of people who wanted to have children.

“I believe in this even if I am left alone to defend this minority, but I am certain that like you did in the past, you will also be behind me now,” Muscat said to applause.

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