Delia favours use of facial recognition CCTV to control crime, insists budget lacked vision

The Opposition leader accused the government of failing to address problems within society that it had created itself

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia
Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has said he agrees with the government’s plans to introduce facial recognition technology to help fight crime, but insisted that a pilot project in Paceville would not be making the situation better in other localities.

Speaking during an interview on Net FM, Delia referred to a story published in Illum on Sunday which stated that a considerable number of police stations across Gozo were closed, likely due to a shortage of police officers to man the stations.

He said there was nothing in the budget to address this problem and that the budget only contained a short paragraph on plans to introduce facial recognition technology. “This is good, and we must acknowledge when something is good, but what about all the other localities in which there are problems?”

The PN leader described the budget as an exercise similar to that undertaken by a family of company looking to plan its finances and decide how to spend its money over a period of time, adding that the government had failed to show the nation that it had a plan.

Turning to the €2.33 a week increase from the cost of living adjustment (COLA), Delia said that this needed to be viewed within the context of a 4% increase in the “price of food”.

“This means that if you spent €100 a week on food, you are now spending €104,” he said, insisting that his made the COLA increase insignificant. 

He noted that the cost of food made up a larger proportion of the money spent by households that were more vulnerable, highlighting his belief that while the cost of living was increases, wages remained frozen.

Delia said it was positive that workers would be getting an extra day off through the implementation of on of the Labour Party’s electoral pledges, but said the government could not take credit for this as it would be employers who would foot the bill.

The government, he said, was also spending less on sectors like sports and agriculture, criticizing the government for described the latter in the budget speech as a sector that did not have a big economic contribution.

Turning to Education, Delia said that after disrespecting teachers last month and failing to build any schools over the past years, it had presented a budget that lack a plan for education, especially when it came to providing skills with skills they would need in the future.

Similarly, he said there was no mention of a plan on waste management. “We are the dirtiest country in Europe,” he said, referring to European statistics showing Malta was the country that recycled least. This surely didn’t make Malta the best in Europe, he said.

Above all, he said it was not enough for the country to do well because it was the individual that needed to prosper. He suggested that the additional money spent by the government on certain services needed to be viewed within the context of there being more people using such services.

“If the economy is growing by 7% and the population grows by 7% then, like for like, we are not gaining anything,” he said, adding that the government was not willing to acknowledge this.

He said the message being sent was essentially that for the country to continue as it was, it would need to bring in more foreign workers every year, which he said meant “more cars, more congestion, more emissions and fewer open spaces”.

The budget was saying that people’s financial position would remain the same while their quality of life deteriorates.

He continued by stressing that many of the challenges being faced by the government, it had created itself, through its economic policy and by choosing not to invest in high value-added industries. Such industries would allow workers to earn more money without there also being price inflation driven by the presence of more consumers.

Finally, Delia lashed out at the government for damage he said it was causing to Malta’s “good reputation”, insisting that while those close to the government and some wealthy people were doing well, sectors like financial services were being risked.