I will never look at the Labour Party’s in­ter­ests be­fore Malta’s in­ter­ests – Joseph Mus­cat

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat said yes­ter­day that he will never look at the Labour Party’s in­ter­ests be­fore Malta’s in­ter­ests.

Dr Mus­cat was de­liv­er­ing a speech at a po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in Ghaxaq.

Turn­ing to Malta’s up­com­ing EU Coun­cil Pres­i­dency, he said that min­is­ters must spend just as much time in lo­cal­i­ties as they would need to spend in Brus­sels. The Prime Min­is­ter men­tioned that the pres­i­dency will be a chal­lenge.

He spoke about ris­ing tourism num­bers, and said that Malta must look to the fu­ture, and en­sure that it has a plan to deal with larger amounts of peo­ple, through bet­ter roads and waste man­age­ment.

He quoted from for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Mintoff who said, when Malta was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an ex­o­dus ‘I hope Malta will, one day, cre­ate enough jobs for every­one, and that there will be so many jobs that we will bring in for­eign­ers’.

“To­day, we have this sit­u­a­tion,” Dr Mus­cat ex­plained. “I re­cently spoke to a num­ber of in­vestors, and with EU in­sti­tu­tions. They men­tion al­ways two things. Firstly, whether they will find work­ers and sec­ondly where the chil­dren of for­eign work­ers will be ed­u­cated. I have spo­ken with pri­vate school heads who have noted an in­crease in de­mand. We must see how to help the pri­vate school sec­tor ex­pand”.

He turned to the St Ju­lian’s Mas­ter Plan, say­ing that “this is the first time we are look­ing at Paceville as a zone, say­ing this is how it must be de­vel­oped and how much is needed to build in­fra­struc­ture etc”.

Turn­ing to Air Malta, the Prime Min­is­ter said that find­ing funds for the air­line is not the whole is­sue, “but rather how Air Malta can en­ter the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and op­er­ate well for many years to come”.

He spoke about sug­ges­tions about Air Malta being par­tially sold to Mal­tese in­vestors. “Firstly, he said, one can­not al­low Air Malta shares on the pub­lic mar­ket as the laws do not al­low it. One can­not open shares pub­licly. It would be ir­re­spon­si­ble and il­le­gal. It is also not sim­ply a prob­lem of funds. We need a strate­gic part­ner. A sole avi­a­tion com­pany can­not suc­ceed, it must be tied to an in­ter­na­tional net­work”.

Turn­ing to the up­com­ing bud­get, he said: “While we must con­tinue to en­cour­age peo­ple to work, we must un­der­stand that there are those who are un­able to work”.

As for fuel prices, the Prime Min­is­ter said that “for the 11th time this leg­is­la­ture, we will re­duce the price of petrol and diesel as from to­mor­row. This, when oil prices are ac­tu­ally go­ing up. The Op­po­si­tion wanted to stick with the old sys­tem, yet we look at the long-term. There could be times when prices in Malta could be less, but there are other months when it could also be much higher,” he said.

“En­ergy and fuel prices are low one day, and overnight oil prices rise by 6%. Why? Be­cause the pro­duc­ers of oil, over which the EU has lit­tle in­ter­est, de­cided to re­duce oil pro­duc­tion, mean­ing that prices will rise. They (re­fer­ring to the PN) want us to re­main at the mercy of an­other coun­try. This govern­ment says that what­ever the in­ter­na­tional trends are, en­ergy and wa­ter prices will re­main at the same level, and we will keep plan­ning ahead”.

Turn­ing to the Crane Cur­rency deal, he said that while govern­ment helped De La Rue all they can, “We brought in a com­pany who can em­ploy those fired by De La Rue, but can ac­tu­ally hold even more”. He said De La Rue will still be re­tain­ing em­ploy­ees.

At­tack­ing the Op­po­si­tion Leader, Dr Mus­cat claimed that the PN want to cut the num­ber of govern­ment jobs, and hopes that unions would look into this.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Evarist Bar­tolo also spoke at the event.

He said that the PL, since its birth, al­ways tied eco­nomic suc­cess with ed­u­ca­tion and lib­erty, and that the party is still loyal to these prin­ci­ples.

The min­is­ter spoke of the im­por­tance of the break­fast club.

“One prob­lem we have is 18,000 chil­dren liv­ing in fam­i­lies liv­ing on less than €12,000. There are chil­dren who come to school with­out hav­ing break­fast. A child who doesn’t eat well, can­not make the best use of their ed­u­ca­tion. We must work as to help chil­dren get out of poverty. A hun­gry child will not pay as much at­ten­tion”.

He said that the pre­vi­ous govern­ment re­duced the univer­sity’s bud­get by €2 mil­lion. He said that when com­ing into power, he went to the Prime Min­is­ter and said that if we don’t find €4 mil­lion, they would not be able to pay wages. He ar­gued that from a €50 mil­lion bud­get, the univer­sity now re­ceives €68 mil­lion.

He an­nounced that next year, three new schools will be built, in St Paul’s Bay, Marsas­cala and Rabat, Gozo.

The min­is­ter also spoke about the Wardija school ren­o­va­tion project, where €2 mil­lion was spent. “We want to do the same at San Miguel and at Guardian An­gel in Ham­run”.

Turn­ing to Zeb­bug, he said there was a school where €1 mil­lion was spent on ren­o­va­tions.

He said that soon spend­ing must, in­stead of build­ing new schools, go to ren­o­va­tions of cur­rent schools.

“In the com­ing years we will give pri­mary schools new life. Be­cause of strong eco­nomic growth, with for­eign­ers com­ing to Malta for work, around 2,500 new stu­dents en­tered our schools”.

He men­tioned that, when be­com­ing min­is­ter, he found a sit­u­a­tion where half of stu­dents stop­ping at fifth-form would not have stud­ied a third lan­guage. “This, when Malta de­pends on tourism”.

“Lan­guages are im­por­tant for us, and we can­not ac­cept half our stu­dents not study­ing a third lan­guage. We launched pro­grammes in Ital­ian, Span­ish, Ger­man and French, to teach the lan­guages in an in­ter­est­ing way. Stu­dents who this year chose to study these lan­guages are higher than ever”.

He also stressed the need for stu­dents to have qual­i­fi­ca­tions and un­der­stand­ing of both Mal­tese and English.

He also noted an in­crease in stu­dents tak­ing sciences, men­tion­ing the im­por­tant of Mal­tese youths hav­ing the skills needed for jobs being cre­ated.

He said that govern­ment is work­ing to re­duce the num­ber of early school leavers, men­tion­ing that train­ing for stu­dents who were fail­ing and were not go­ing to pass their O-lev­els helped around 500 stu­dents.

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