With the UK leav­ing, we are los­ing a like-minded coun­try

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

and that this will be the back­drop for Malta’s Pres­i­dency.

Minister Grech re­it­er­ated that im­mi­gra­tion, se­cu­rity and the in­ter­nal mar­ket will be on top of the pri­or­ity list dur­ing Malta’s Pres­i­dency. So­cial in­clu­sion, a sec­tor which is very much close to the gov­ern­ment’s heart, will also be given pri­or­ity, Dr Grech added.

“Our Pres­i­dency will try and pro­vide hope so that the trust in the EU in­sti­tu­tions is re­stored. But we need to find a bal­ance. There is no one fit-for-all so­lu­tion.”

The UK will in­voke Ar­ti­cle 50 of the Treaty of the Euro­pean Union in the mid­dle of the Mal­tese Pres­i­dency, he ex­plained, and this will pro­vide a greater chal­lenge.

On the min­i­mum wage, the deputy Prime Minister said that this is­sue should be ad­dressed and it should be a so­cial­ist gov­ern­ment that takes the nec­es­sary steps in the right di­rec­tion.

All EU funds will be used by end of 2023 - Ian Borg

Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for EU funds, Ian Borg, con­tra­dicted the claim by Shadow Minister Dr Mario de Marco and ex­plained that the rate of EU funds used un­til the year 2013 was only at 30%. Dr Borg was re­act­ing to the claim made by the PN MP when he warned that the gov­ern­ment has to use all the EU funds be­fore the year 2020 as the coun­try would risk los­ing this money.

Dr Borg also ex­plained that the EU funds will be used by the end of 2023, as the gov­ern­ment planned a num­ber of projects to be im­ple­mented by that time.

He an­nounced that the gov­ern­ment will soon be is­su­ing a call to carry out works in re­gional roads around Malta and Gozo.

The Prime Minister mis­han­dled the Panama Scan­dal - Mario de Marco

In the same sit­ting, Shadow Minister Mario de Marco said that 2017 will be a land­mark year for Malta thanks to the Pres­i­dency but warned that this pe­riod must be used to por­tray Malta as a se­ri­ous coun­try.

Speak­ing in Par­lia­ment as the House dis­cussed the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for the Min­istry for EU Af­fairs, Dr de Marco said that the Mal­tese Pres­i­dency will co­in­cide with a very chal­leng­ing time for the Euro­pean Union. Re­fer­ring to Brexit, Dr de Marco said that this event has chal­lenged the very foun­da­tions of the EU. “With the UK leav­ing, we are los­ing a like­minded coun­try,” he added.

Re­fer­ring to the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal, Dr de Marco said that the gov­ern­ment has the duty to look into this mat­ter even on an in­ter­na­tional level. “Our re­spon­si­bil­ity is to use this Pres­i­dency to give the im­age of a se­ri­ous coun­try and to show that we are ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in this union. Un­for­tu­nately, our Prime Minister mis­han­dled the Panama Scan­dal.” Dr de Marco in­sisted that Kon­rad Mizzi’s apol­ogy was not enough to re­store Malta’s tar­nished rep­u­ta­tion due to the in­ter­na­tional scan­dal.

On EU funds, the PN Deputy Leader said that the PN ad­min­is­tra­tion had a 23-page list of projects com­pleted through these funds. “These funds re­sulted in the eco­nomic suc­cess of our coun­try.”

He warned that Malta might not be el­i­gi­ble for EU re­gional funds af­ter the year 2020 and so called on the gov­ern­ment to use the al­lo­cated funds to help in the in­fra­struc­ture and other projects which are needed for the coun­try to com­pete with the rest of the EU coun­tries.

Dr de Marco crit­i­cized the gov­ern­ment for al­low­ing con­tracts to go un­pub­lished and asked how the public and the Op­po­si­tion can carry out the nec­es­sary scru­tiny if these never see the light of day. He said that even worse was that when these con­tracts are pub­lished, parts of them are cen­sored. “I think the public should know all the de­tails in­volved in the con­tracts which pri­va­tised three hos­pi­tals in Malta and Gozo. How can we carry out the nec­es­sary scru­tiny if the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ries are not even known?”

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