Nationalist Party Leader and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia yesterday replied to the Budget speech in Parliament. He criticized various aspects of government policy: from an economic model that works with foreign workers to its citizenship program. He also explained the Opposition’s wish for an economy that works for the people and that the Maltese would be proud that their country regain the reputation it lost because the Prime Minister failed to take courages decisions would clean name Malta.
At the beginning of his speech, the Opposition Leader criticized the government for playing down the incident that occurred at the Hal Far Open Centre in a Government statement that said that only 300 migrants had taken part in the riot, while many others did not.
Apropos of the budget, he said that saying it had failed to identify the challenges that Minister Scicluna himself had mentioned. Dr. Delia continued to criticize the Government’s economic model: enhancing the economy with a population of imported workers and without long-term plan. He said that today 28% of workers were foreigners and the government aimed to bring more foreigners to each project. Dr. Delia said the Opposition was not against bringing more foreign workers – particularly European = as long as they brought new experiences and skills.
Dr. Delia said that many workers were not from the European Union and that the impact of foreigners was being felt in every field of infrastructure right up to the rental market. He added that workers from certain countries were undermining working conditions and encouraging labour. He said that the failure of the government was manifest when it says that it could not ensure pensions without the presence of foreign workers and that the Government was not investing in the skills of the Maltese apart from the fact that the budget failed to mention a new sector of the economy.
The Leader of the Opposition said that although the economy had grown more than 5% this was not reflected in the wages of workers which had increased by 1.1%. He said that a country’s wellbeing should not be measured on its gross domestic product, but on how people live well.He mentioned the ninety thousand people who were living on the brink of poverty and talked about institutional, environmental and social challenges.
Dr. Delia said that never before in history was Malta in danger of being blacklisted after the Moneyval report. He said that the Government did not recognize the problem due to bad decisions which had ridden roughshod over Malta’s reputation as a result of the Government’s greed. He said that if Malta was black listed nobody respectable would want to invest here. He quoted extracts from the Moneyval report which he said show that Malta’s institutions were at a lost to combat crime and money laundering.
Dr. Delia recalled a time under a Nationalist government when there was an incident which could have potentially drowned Malta’s reputation in the maritime register, and recalled how the Nationalist government had taken steps so that today Malta enjoyed the best maritime registry. The Leader of the Opposition challenged the Prime Minister to take courages decisions to defend Malta’s reputation and to get rid of certain people close to him. He said that both the Chamber of Commerce as well as HSBC Chief Executive had alerted the Government about the fact that our country reputation had deteriorated.
Dr Delia said that he did not want to capitalise on recent decisions of commercial banks but expected the government to give solace as far as the banking sector. He alleged that the government had ended up selling passports to then split the commission and that when talking about the problems of success, he would making the problems bigger in lieu of solving it.
As far as the judiciary, Dr. Delia said that appointments to the judiciary had not been made on the basis merit but on the basis of a political profile. He said that fair governance had vanished and criticized the Attorney General for being an accomplice to the goings on at Castille (denying him a copy of the Egrant report) instead of defending the interests of the people. Dr. Delia said that although Parliament was neutralized MPs were given salaries by the Government to refrain from government scrutiny. He said that this had been criticized by the Commissioner of Standards and the Government had not acted on this report.
Dr. Delia said that poverty surplus had reached ninety thousand people, many of them elderly because pensions were inadequate. He said that the Opposition was ready to work with the Government and with others to find solutions for adequate and sustainable pensions. On housing, the Opposition Leader said that according to Eurostat, affordable housing was Malta’s second biggest problem. He said that instead of people become home owners, the Government was telling the elderly to give up their home to have supplementary pension income.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the scheme whereby the government subsidises the deposit for the purchase of the house, was none other than a confirmation that a regular worker could not afford to save up a deposit to buy his home. He went on to criticize the lack of social housing saying that according to the latest Housing Authority report by 2017 there were almost 4000 people entitled to social housing. He said that PN would guarantee the right of every Maltese to have a roof over his head. Dr Delia said that government did not care that there were workers who lived in inhumane conditions and in containers and that the pay gap between women and men was the largest in Europe. He listed the PN proposals to address these issues.
He also addressed the deficit in mental health and said that the fact that government was satisfied with the works at Mount Carmel was a testament to its failure. While commending measures announced with regard to certain diseases he also wished to see help for patients with Parkinsons. Dr. Delia was critical of an agreement whereby three hospitals were given to inexperienced private individuals who took 50 million euros a year. He said that despite the fact that Steward Health Care had entered the equation, the investment which had to take place never did. He referred to this contract as a ploy of theft from the Maltese people.
He also spoke about the scarcity of teachers and LSAs and referred to the pay of € 20,000 for teachers and that of € 180,000 for Kurt Farrugia. On the environment, the Leader of the Opposition said that six hundred people die every year from pollution and complained that the government was not working with the Opposition for there to be declared a state of climate emergency. Parliament called for the combined states of emergency climate.
He called the government’s blockchain policy a failure. Dr Delia also said that Gozitans were still without a fast ferry and that there were almost one hundred other promises which remained unfulfilled – particularly the promises of transparency, accountability and meritocracy. Dr. Delia mentioned the Chinese billionaire, the well to do Nigerians and other Russians and Israelis who are accused of fraud in the United States, United Kingdom and Finland and who were given Maltese passports. He asked the Prime Minister to tell us what investments these people had made in Malta to have been given Maltese citizenship. Referring to the American University of Malta he said that it was meant to attract 4,000 students but had not even brought 60.
Finally Dr. Delia spoke about the vision of an economy that works for people and not vice versa, a country which was safe and which fought corruption and a country which fights for the people and not one which takes things from the people. He concluded by saying that he wanted a country that Maltese could be proud of.