Malta monitoring situation in Libya ‘very closely’, Prime Minister says

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says Malta was following development in Libya closely • He highlighted importance that both locals and foreigners abide by the rules of the land in Malta

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat spoke about the ongoing Libyan conflict, migration, the Maghtab fire and tax refunds in a One Radio interview Sunday morning
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat spoke about the ongoing Libyan conflict, migration, the Maghtab fire and tax refunds in a One Radio interview Sunday morning

Malta is “very closely” monitoring the constantly developing conflict in Libya, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today, as more news emerges of the fierce fighting in Tripoli and other zones by armed militants.

“There has been major conflict in Libya, with an air strike having taken place in Tripoli. We are very carefully following the situation there,” he said in an interview this morning on the Labour Party’s One Radio.

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“Even up to last night, there were migrants who left Libya but were not taken to Malta, due to coordination between the Libyan coast guard, the Italian navy and other EU naval operations,” he highlighted, as his focus turned to migration.

More migrants from the Lifeline and Aquarius NGO ships left Malta this week, to countries including France, he said. “We managed to persuade other countries to share these migrants,” he underscored.

He made note of recent complaints he had received, from residents in Marsa and surrounding areas, that there was not enough law enforcement being undertaken in these localities, which are home to a substantial migrant population.

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“We acted immediately to solve this, and increased the police presence. I am not interested if it is Maltese people or foreigners who break the law - what is important is that we make it clear that not following the rules is absolutely unacceptable,” he said, “I have asked police and security forces to take all necessary measures to show that the law cannot be broken, and that those involved be arrested and charged in court as soon as possible.”

Malta had no problem to safeguard human rights, but everyone had to follow the law, no matter the nationality, he emphasised.

PN’s Maghtab fire reaction “backfired spectacularly”

Regarding Friday’s fire at the Maghtab recycling plant, the Prime Minister said the Nationalist Party’s reaction - which had been to “politicise” the incident - had “spectacularly backfired” on it.

“When the government had asked the Opposition to participate in a discussion on waste management, it had refused,” he remarked.

He said that every residence in Malta is going to be given a special trash container to be used to more easily separate waste, making it easier to process later.

“Other administrations sent bills, we send cheques”

Through the tax refunds announced earlier this week, the government showed that it continued to keep its word to the people, Muscat said.

“We had promised we would, over a period of five years, refund the income tax which people, who work on a full or part-time basis, had paid,” he said, “During the Nationalist administrations, it was those who earned the most who gained from their tax cut policies. With our policy, it is those hard-working people who might need a boost who will benefit, with around 200,000 to be given a tax refund.”

He underlined that the number of people on social benefits had been reduced by 43%, and that these persons “are now working and paying tax”, and will be receiving a refund on the tax they paid.

“While other governments sent bills, we send people cheques,” he said, “I look forward to the upcoming budget, where we will show how the wealth we created will keep being divided amongst the people.”

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