[WATCH] Muscat urges PN voters to choose candidates ‘that truly love their country’

The Prime Minister said the PN had still not learnt that the Maltese and Gozitan people do not appreciate a style of politics that attacks Malta and called on the electorate to help teach it a lesson

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat urged the Maltese electorate to reject MEP candidates that did not love their country
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat urged the Maltese electorate to reject MEP candidates that did not love their country

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has urged those who intend to vote for the Nationalist Party in the upcoming MEP elections not to vote for candidates who did not love Malta.

“You might laugh, but I want to make an appeal to those who intend to vote for the Nationalist Party, as they have a right to do,” Muscat said. “I urge you to, from the candidates on the PN’s side, chose those people who really love the country and not the ones that love their seat.”  

The Labour Party, he said, had no such problems, since it had 14 candidates who loved their country.

Addressing a political activity in Mgarr, Muscat said that tomorrow, the PN would once again be trying to discredit Malta within Europe’s institutions, insisting that it was clear that the people of Malta and Gozo, irrespective of their political beliefs, did not want such politics.   

He said that there were 105 days left until the people could help explain this to the PN using their vote.

The Prime Minister again stressed that despite what some might say, the result of the election by my no means a foregone conclusion. He said he had asked experts whether the Labour Party would be guaranteed a fourth seat if it obtained the same number of votes it did in the 2017 general election – the Labour Party’s largest victory in recent history – but was told that this was not the case. “My job is throw cold water on everyone at the moment…we always start at nil-nil.”  

Social Housing to come with monitoring programme

Earlier this week an agreement was signed that will see the construction of a €50 million housing project, the largest investment in social housing in the last quarter of a century, he said. 

The Prime Minister said that when discussing the subject of housing, one needed to appreciate that there was no single solution, stressing that it was important to understand that 80% of the population owned its own home

“They are people who are making sacrifices, who have debts with the bank, they are households were both partners work to make ends meet,” Muscat said, adding that acknowledging and respecting such a sacrifice was a priority.

He insisted there were two sides to the coin in this regard. On the one hand, property prices were becoming increasingly unaffordable for a greater segment of the population, however at the same time, there were many people who had invested in property and who had made sacrifices who were doing well (“sinjuri zgħar”).

“This is a good way to describe the new middle class…knowing that you can leave your children a bit better off than you were.”

People struggling with housing, he said, included those who could not afford to buy a property for a number of reasons.

He pointed to the fact that the government had doubled housing subsidies twice, and had also broaden criteria making people eligible, but said that no matter what the state does, there would always be people who, for one reason or another, required assistance. 

“We must be clear, even if it means losing votes…I can’t send the message that the government is in some way going to take these 500 units and the other 800 that have started, and to give them out to whoever.”

He said both parties were guilty of doing this in the past. “We did it as well, but the government can’t be like Father Christmas. What message will this send to people working hard to make their loan repayments?”

Social housing, he insisted, should only be available to people who needed it. “You can’t save money off the taxpayers back, I’m sorry.”

He said that rather than build a new housing estate on ODZ land, the government had opted for what it believes will be a more effective solution.

The 500 units announced this week will be spread across the nation, with Muscat insisting that the benefits of this would be twofold.

On the one hand it would protect the country’s countryside and not see more land lost to construction. Moreover, he said it would avoid the creation of ghettos and create an environment to help those in need integrate better within society.

“It will make it easier to deal with certain social issues and will ensure that they are not compounded.”

This, he said, was the reason the government was taking its time in implementing the strategy and had opted not to go for a “quick win”.

Those who are already living in social housing won’t se their conditions change, he stressed, but he said that going forward, there needs to be a change in mentality.

“Giving someone a property will be start of the process not its conclusion,” Muscat said. “People moving into social housing will be monitoring by social workers.”

He said monitoring will look into whether children are attending school, and whether there are any problems with drugs or domestic violence.

Another huge change he said was that it would not always be an indefinite lease but rather, social hosing would be available as long as people were in need.

“The government is going to try and lift you out of your position. If you have no job will get back into the workforce,” he said. “The state will help you when you need but we need to introduce the mentality that if you are in this position you need to work to get out of it.”

‘Rents white paper did not offer new insights’

Turning to white paper on housing market launched by the government, Muscat said it had been well received but admitted that it had not revealed much in terms of new insights.

“You have people who are struggling and who are seeing their rent double over night…on the other we know that if we come down hard on this sector, those who are renting apartments would choose to leave it empty.”

He said government needed to find a balance that would keep landlords in the market but which would help those who are struggling.

“At the end of the day it will fall on us as a government to take the knife and cut somewhere. We know that wherever we cut there will be bleeding but this is why we are here. Not to look at a problem and postpone it like those before us, but to solve it,” Muscat said.

He said the government would be helping the various categories of people who were struggling in the current market, including those who simply needed a bit of help for them to access affordable housing. 

Muscat said the government would be launching schemes in this regard but would be cautions not to bring about a situation where people are loaned money they can’t pay back.  

He said Malta wanted to ensure that Malta does not fall into the pattern of financing that brought about the collapse of the US housing market and the subsequent global financial crisis in 2008.

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