The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

'Very evident' that Malta needs a metro public transportation system – Adrian Delia

Wednesday, 27 March 2019, 13:57 Last update: about 4 months ago

It is “very evident” that Malta needs a metro system as a means of alternative public transport, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the situation of Malta’s transportation after PM Joseph Muscat said a metro project is only feasible for Sliema and St Julian’s and its implementation would require either more economic growth or an increase in taxation, Delia lamented that traffic is costing the country over 700 million per year and that the country has the dirtiest air in Europe as a result of the thousands of cars that keep being added to Maltese roads every year.  

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The solution is very clear, he said: a mass public transportation system – and, he said, this has to be a metro.

He said that spending 700 million of the taxpayer’s money to widen “100 metre stretches of road which lead to a bottleneck a further 50 metres on” is solving nothing, and that it is clear and evident that a metro is what “needs to be done”.

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce, Delia said that factually it is true that there is next to no unemployment; but, he noted, in the past 60 years Malta has had the lowest actual growth in wages while there has been a systematic rise in the price of most consumables and in property.

“People in employment are still not benefitting from economic growth”, Delia said before adding that it is clear that the government has chosen to grow the economy by increasing population.

He said that the country had to choose a model wherein investment is made in sectors which are not as dependent on human capital but are more dependent on a structural capital and new innovative areas which may not necessarily require a large up-turn in human capital.  A selective process of identifying economic processes and trends which can be adopted in Malta was required.

Blockchain is in actual fact one such sector, as it does not require all that much in terms of human capital, but rather it requires legislative proposals that can launch the industry forward like the PN government had done with the gaming industry, Delia said.

“There is one key ingredient which is paramount though; reputation”, Delia said before adding that this was the area where the government had failed the country the most.  “How can you dream of going forward to propose legislative structures where trust and reputation are key, while our reputation is instead being shattered”, he said.

“Yes, that kind of legislative and sectoral economic growth is what the country should be attracting, but the basis of this is a robust banking system, a robust MFSA, a robust legislative structure, and a robust reputation”, he said.

He lamented that having a robust MFSA cannot be achieved when its high-up members are hand-picked by the Prime Minister, especially given that the MFSA is meant to be an independent authority.  

Asked about the PN’s position on defending Malta from tax harmonisation at a European level, Delia said that the party would do all it could to defend Malta, but the government had to show that all that is necessary in terms of institutional restructuring is being done.  

“The country needs to stand up – what’s wrong is wrong and we need to fix it. We cannot keep living in denial”, Delia said.

The Opposition leader continued by lamented that there has been a 50% increase in spending on wages within the public sector, up to 900 million, and a 54% increase in recurrent expenditure, up from 2.6 billion to 4.1 billion, since 2013.

He noted that this level of recurrent expenditure would have made any normal business wind up, and questioned what would happen if there was to be a slight economic decline in the near future.

Delia noted that the government’s latest buzzword seems to be “cosmopolitan”.  He questioned whether this meant turning Malta into a concrete structure.  He lamented that the government speaks of “the problems of success”, and said that they have described people living longer and increasing rental prices as problems of this success.  Delia said that PN wants to retain success, but not at the cost of the standard of living of the Maltese people.

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