Current Affairs
Prime Minister: there will be no hikes in electricity bills despite increase in oil prices

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that despite the increase in international oil prices as a result of the attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, the government will not increase the electricity and water bills.

Speaking during a cabinet meeting at Santa Venera, Dr Muscat said that if it weren’t for the reform in the energy sector, the Government would have to discuss how to increase the electricity and water bills to the detriment of families and businesses.

Referring to next year’s budget, the Prime Minister said that the Government’s priority is to continue to implement its promises to the people in the electoral manifesto.

The Prime Minister stated that preparations for the budget has been going on for three months. He said that the major priority of the Government is to continue implementing the electoral programme so that, he added, the government will implement what was promised. Dr Muscat announced that in the days prior to the Budget on the 14th October, the Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary will publish a report with an overview of the implemented budget’s measures for this year and those being implemented.

Dr Muscat referred to the oil facilities attacks in Saudi Arabia, which led to a hike in international oil prices with 10 dollars a barrel. Dr Muscat stressed that if the reform in the energy sector was not implemented, the cabinet would have discussed how to increase the electricity and water bills.

“The Maltese and Gozitan families will not be affected through the electricity bills. Other countries will today be discussing how the utilities will affect the families and businesses”.

Asked about his future, Dr Muscat reiterated that he will work to present and implement next year’s budget.

The Prime Minister was also asked about the public inquiry on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, as requested by the Council of Europe”.

“I and we have nothing to hide. When we are satisfied that with what we are doing, we are not undermining any case; a crucial point is when you do something you try not to undermine another ongoing criminal process and I believe that we have almost arrived at that balance; we will announce how we will be implementing the Council’s resolution”.

During the Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said that the Government’s principle for next year’s budget is that the Government does not spend more than its revenue. He said that the Government is planning to register the fourth consecutive surplus.

Minister Scicluna mentioned the social measures introduced by the Government, which assisted in reducing poverty. He said that in 2012, persons at poverty risk and social exclusion stood at 25%, which are now down to 19%. Prof. Scicluna stated that emphasis will be placed in the budget on social sectors, including persons with disability, pensioners and social accommodation. He added that the budget will also focus on the strengthening of regulatory institutions, including in the financial services sector.

The economy will continue with its fast rhythm, Minister Scicluna said, because the economic growth is sustainable. Prof. Scicluna stated that the shortage of workers is still a problem for businesses.

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