The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Updated: ‘This was a historic week’ – Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says

Sunday, 5 February 2017, 11:47 Last update: about 6 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called the past week "historic" during his political address in Hal-Safi, making reference to both the EU informal meeting held in Malta, as well as the €300 million ITS site investment.

"Throughout the week we did what many people said would be impossible. We helped Libya and Italy reach an agreement and through it, it will be easier to help Libya and the thousands people who risk their lives crossing the desert and the sea."

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He said that there were people who said that there were still problems in Libya. "We said that this is not an excuse to leave things as they were. We are showing that we understand the reality. I understand when Safi families call us and tell us nobody was listening to them when it comes to problems regarding migration. These were not racists, but good people, who say that they want to help, but cannot help so many."

"We told Italy, that if nothing is done, we will have tens of thousands crossing to Europe, and we will find ourselves in a crisis. Recently, 1,400 people were saved at sea. 12 boats left from Libya to Europe on Thursday night."

He said that the human traffickers earn many millions. "It cannot be that if someone goes to an airport without a visa, they won't let you travel, yet go to Libya find a boat and travel without anything else.  Our priority is to stop people from drowning, but we must be ready to grant refuge to those who require it, to those who are being bombed, those being persecuted. But if someone is coming from a country where there aren't these problems, coming to find a better job, they should apply, undergo an examination, and if they are deserving then they will receive permission."

He said that people kept in Libya will be helped, and that Europe will ensure there are better standards. He said that he hopes this is the beginning of the solution. The second part, he said, is that those deserving of help, those escaping persecution, should not cross the desert or the sea, but should come through humanitarian corridors. "They should be able to apply and be flown if accepted."

Turning to the €300 million investment in the ITS site, he called it the largest Maltese investment in history. "They will create 1,500 jobs. This goes hand in hand with our vision. They want a project of the highest quality."

He said that if those tourists who will come to the hotel expect a better service, will pay more, and as such wages would be higher.

"This is how we are addressing the problem of unemployment."

He said that government listens to people and listens to problems regarding low wages.

"Improving working conditions comes through quality investment." He said that a hotel attracting higher quality tourists needs to hire trained employees, able to speak the language, but added that employers struggle finding employees. He said that tourism is a career, and is not just a job one chooses if they fail out of school.

He also urged parents not to allow their children to start work at age 16 instead of continuing their education. "One should not look at the €800 a month they can earn, but at the thousands they will lose. If they are struggling academically, make sure they speak with the guidance councillors."

Turning to the Institute for Tourism Studies, he said it will move to Smart City. "It will have a new campus, like a university, where Maltese students can attend for free. We will build a new hotel, to attract tourists to the south along with it. This hotel, with this school, will give our students a chance to experience the tourism sector. When they graduate, they will find a well-paid job."

Turning to the valuation of the ITS site in St George's Bay, he said that for the first time, a private auditing firm was called and told to estimate the price of the land. "They estimated the price of the land for the hotel, which is ten times higher than in cases of other hotels, another rate was used for the commercial side, and one for the apartments. When they came back with their estimations, we added yet another clause, which states that if the developers build more, they would need to pay more. This is the highest amount anyone has ever paid for government land, €60 million including taxes, that will move towards our plan to continue strengthening the economy".

This week we also managed to create more jobs by attracting an American fantasy sports company called Draft Kings, who established their European base here in Malta.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat also pledged that government will not fall to low levels of political insults, stressing that he will engage with people and families who have genuine problems, genuine criticisms.

"People see and understand. They see what is good and bad, feel who is genuine but also who is bitter."

He said that people are fed up of political bickering.

PL MP Clifton Grima said that he is pleased to be Maltese, to see the outcomes of the work done by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

He said that despite Malta being a small country, the island is entrusted with the EU Presidency.

Turning to the Opposition, he said that the PN should feel embarrassed, and referred to the Lowenbrau scandal, and criticised PN MP Jason Azzopardi and the amount the land was sold for.

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Roderick Galdes said that if one looks at unemployment, "we have the lowest amount of persons registering for work."

He said that if one looks at public debt, Eurostat shows that it has reduced to 16.4% of GDP. "Will you bring out the billboard which read labour won't work," he sarcastically asked the PN.

The Parliamentary Secretary spoke of the success of the tourism industry, and that Malta attracted close to 2 million tourists last year.

He called PN Leader Simon Busuttil negative.

"I will lead the agriculture council, which takes up 40% of the EU's budget. When speaking with people in this sector from other countries, they state that there has been a crisis in the sector for many years. What Simon Busuttil in Malta says does not affect them." He said that he wants local and EU farmers to succeed.

PN reaction

In reaction, the PN said that the Prime Minister has lost control and is now leading a “brothel government.”

“In his first public chance to speak about PL Deputy Leader Chris Cardona being caught lying about the German brothel, the Prime Minister chose silence,” the PN said.

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