The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

Prime Minister speaks about everything except Panama Papers scandal in May Day mass meeting

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 1 May 2016, 14:23 Last update: about 4 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat dealt with a wide array of subjects during the Labour day mass meeting, but failed to tackle the issue that has been hitting the government hard in the past two months - the Panama Papers scandal.

In a mass meeting organised by the Labour Party in front of a packed Castille square, Dr Muscat spoke about employment, the environment, education, health, projects, Air Malta, Valletta, fishermen, taxes and other subjects but, in his one-hour speech, never once mentioned the Panama Papers and how a minister and the OPM chief of staff opened a company in Panama, a matter that has thrown his government in crisis and led to a vote of no-confidence, which Labour won only thanks to its huge parliamentary majority.

This crisis also led him last Thursday to relieve Konrad Mizzi of his duties in energy and health, but retained him as minister without portfolio, while Dr Muscat kept Keith Schembri as his chief of staff, a move that has angered many Labourites, but which nonetheless did not stop thousands from attending today's event.

 “Today we are celebrating Workers' Day in the best way possible, when we have the largest number of people employed in history”, he said.

"There has never been as much employment as there is today. Today, we are not speaking only about work and jobs, but also about careers. We create careers for social mobility. Today, with your strength, showing your trust in this movement, for the first time after many years, there are more jobs in the country than there are people".

“This, however, is not enough”, he said when addressing a labour Party mass meeting in Castille Square, Valletta. "We want better jobs, better wages, a better quality of life where families and children can live better".

"We must ensure that through our economic growth, everyone benefits. The good we have created must reach more people. Social justice is our final aim. Social justice cannot occur without economic prosperity. Economic prosperity without social justice is worth nothing".

" While we know there are more jobs than ever before, we know there are people still without a job, still with a low wage, and others who live in poverty. In the coming two years, we will work to solve these problems".

"We've done a lot in the past three years, more so than the PN did in 25 years. We are implementing our vision. Malta is changing. Progress is inevitable. Those (who administered the country) before us, left us a house that did not look to bad from the outside, but was broken from the inside. We couldn't continue living with it. The interior was broken, the ceiling was falling down, the ground was cracked. When we saw this, we began working. Instead of moaning, we fixed the ceiling, the floors etc".

“While doing this, we would see the Opposition out the window telling us we would need to improve the way we fix the ceiling. We would tell them, ‘come in and help us out,’ yet they would tell us to continue ourselves. Actually, they would try and cause problems. After a few years, the floor is fixed, the ceiling is fixed”.

"Now they would tell us that we didn't clean up the dust well enough. They are telling us, now give us the keys back. The people are telling you, no!"

We will work harder than ever before

"While the PN will spend the next years criticising, I promise we will continue to work harder than ever before."

Turning to healthcare, he said the government will implement the patients’ charter, where those who require an operation, and government does not provide it in time, government will pay for the operation privately. He said that medicines will also be delivered to homes. He said that another hospital will be built at St Luke's Hospital, one in Gozo and a new private hospital will also be built.

As for education, he said government will continue to build new schools. “We will bring in new social housing projects as well”.

“In the coming years we offer more help to those who want to buy a home, or rent a home. While reducing poverty, our aim is to give tackle poverty in the strongest way in Maltese history”.

“We will work to bring in new investment”. He mentioned a number of investments he inaugurated in a single week, including the Hilton, the Kempinski, Magro in Gozo, the Safi aviation park, €150 million investments announced in a single week”.

He appealed to parents to encourage their children to continue with further education "as that is the best investment for the best jobs and wages in the future".

Next week, work on the American Institute of Tertiary Education Cospicua campus will begin, he said, adding that this will help the South of Malta.

He also said that there will be new yacht marinas and a more flexible environment for business with less red tape will also be seen in the coming years

Dr Muscat explained that government will work to control inflation. “We will take care of those workers who are on the minimum wage, we know they are suffering and we will continue to take measures to help them”.

He said the government is putting up a fight against precarious work.

He said that government will not offer contracts of less than a year in an effort to deter precarious work. The government will introduce regulations that would not necessarily entitle tenderers with the lowest bid to win, but ensure that the ones offering the best conditions to workers will, such as those with collective agreements. "We will not allow abuse of workers to continue," he said.

He said the environment is a priority for the government and pledged that it will not use any ODZ land for any government project in the coming two years.

“We will have a new park in the south where families can go and enjoy the environment”. Garbage will be processed, he said, adding that the garbage being thrown is already being used to supply over 1,000 families with energy. In two years, Enemalta will be back on its feet and give back funds to the Maltese people. We will switch over the gas. We will continue to reduce petrol and diesel. We will see that more tourists keep coming to Malta”.

He told Air Malta workers that government will work as hard as we can to save the national airline.

“In the coming year, Malta will be the EU President, as we deserve. Today, we are one people, looking forward with the most European government as a face, and not just talk."

Government wants discussion on reducing voting age in general elections

“In the coming years we want to see court cases conclude as fast as possible, we want to see no problems in discussing gay marriage. In the next years, youngsters aged 16 will be allowed to vote in local council elections, and after that we can talk about allowing them to vote in European Parliament elections, and after that in general elections too”.

He said that government will continue to work to improve roads and said that an enormous infrastructure plan where all roads in Malta will be repaired and redone is being planned. “We will solve the parking problem in places, such as at the University”. He spoke about the tunnel between Malta and Gozo, and said that in the coming two years a decision will be taken. In addition “we want a fast ferry service between Malta and Gozo”.

He said that in the future, MPs will only be paid if they go to Parliament. "By the end of the year, we will publish all the major contracts, and in the coming two years we will publish all contracts as we have nothing to hide. We will have an open contracting system."

“Without raising taxes, we will continue to reduce the deficit and we will cancel out all of the debt caused by those previously in government”.

He said that this year’s pension rise will not be the only one.

“We will increase benefits, he said, for those who stay home helping their parents. Those who sacrifice their career to take care of their mother, or father with disabilitywill see their benefits raised”.

“We will continue helping more persons with disability enter work. There have never been so many persons with disability working”, he said.

“We will continue to ensure that every disabled persons that can go out and work, does so. As for those who cannot due to their condition, we must ensure that their benefits increase to the minimum wage so they can live independently”.

"My aim, government’s aim, is that while we inherited high unemployment, we will manage to bring unemployment down below 4,000 in the coming two years," he said.

Not everyone agrees with everything we do. "We make mistakes and I understand many of you expect better of us. I am here to say that I am the one who is ultimately responsible. I am the person who came before you three years ago, saying we will change the country.

"I am responsible for where we have failed you. I can tell you that I, and all my friends, are full of energy, and in the coming two years we will make more jobs and make up for the mistakes we have made as we have the people with us." 

“There is a clear choice, between a movement and country that wants better, and those who are bitter. A clear choice between positive and negative. A clear choice between our serenity, and the hysterics of others, who first broke the house and now want the keys back. The difference between those with a vision and those without a plan. We will continue doing good and spreading the good”.

"It’s a choice between those who fight against precarious work and those who created it, a choice between those who are honest and who even admit their mistakes, and those who are dishonest enough to say they never make a mistake. A choice between a strong economy and a bailout. Thank you for coming, thank you for this signal, you have filled us with determination and I promise we will work harder each day through your support".

Worker's Day is an annual holiday celebrated all over the world, recognising the economic and social achievements of workers. Popularly known as May Day or International Workers' Day, the 1st of May is also a public holiday in Malta and Gozo. Activities commemorating this event take place mostly in Valletta

Another DJ, Joe Tanti said: “Today we will show them how to fill up Castille square!!”. “The Maltese people are behind the Prime Minister”.

"Today we celebrate the success of the Labour Party, success for the Maltese and Gozitan people", he told the crowd with the music was pumping in the background. 

Photos and video by Jonathan Borg and James Bianchi


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