The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

Watch: PM pledges new psychiatric hospital near Mater Dei, environment protection

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 8 May 2017, 08:54 Last update: about 3 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has presented more priorities for a Labour government this morning, including those related to healthcare, education and the environment.

The Prime Minister, whose government does not have the best track record when it comes to the environment, pledged that protection of the environment, the right to clean air, environmental health and the  right to action in favour of the environment will be enshrined within the constitution.

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He said that environmental protection will be a priority and hold weight with every government decision.

Dr Muscat also pledged than no major project will be built on ODZ land.

The Prime Minister said that the St Anthony Recycling Plant in Marsascala would be closed within seven years and turned into a public open space.

“In the first phase, the black bag process will be relocated to the new plant at Maghtab. The organic bag project will also be extended to a national scale. N the second stage, recyclables that do not cause smells will be translocated.”

Healthcare

On Healthcare, the Prime Minister pledged that it will remain free for all Maltese and Gozitan persons.

A new parking lot comprising of around 600-700 spaces will be built near Mater Dei Hospital, with one storey being used for public transport. A new psychiatric hospital, which will see a number of treatments currently undertaken at Mt Carmel transferred, will be built near Mater Dei Hospital.

Addressing the bed shortage problem, he pledged that 230 beds at Mater Dei Hospital will be created after the construction of the new Mother and Child hospital.

Dr Muscat also said that more medicines will be made free, including all cancer treatment medicines, and others related to diabetes, prostate disease, heart illnesses and osteoporosis.

A PL government would invest in three new regional primary health centres. One in Kirkop, one in Paola and one in the North of Malta.

He also said that investment will occur in chronic disease management systems, that measure vital signs of patients from their home.

He also said that a tax rebate, refund or credit will be given to all those persons wo pay for a private hospital health insurance policy.

Transport

A PL government will ensure free school transport for all schools, including private and church schools. Supervisors on the buses will also be provided for.

He also said that children, students, pensioners and persons with disability will be able to use public transport for free.

He also spoke of the introduction of a programme, where individuals, should they renounce their driving licence, would be able to use public transport for free.

The Prime Minister said that a PL government will invest in a Mass Rapid Transport System.

Business

A PL government will remain pro-business, Dr Muscat said.

He assured that businesses, especially SMEs, will have access to credit through the Malta Development Bank.

Payments to businesses who conduct work for government will be paid on time, he pledged.

He also spoke of a reform in rent laws to protect businesses, which would be sensitive to the number of years the premises was rented and to the number of employees.

Turning to VAT thresholds, Dr Muscat said that the thresholds which exempt small businesses from VAT will rise from €14,000 to €20,000.

Turning to the Micro Invest programme, it will be increased to €50,000 for those based in Malta, to €70,000 for those based in Gozo.

Education

Fees for MATSEC and SEC exams will be removed, he said, and exams will occur in the school the students attend.

Dr Muscat spoke of investing in teachers, and said that the process to improve the salaries for teachers, School Heads and Deputy Heads will begin.

A consultation period to improve the wellbeing and reduce the teaching load of educators in all grades will also start.

Dr Muscat also said that the process for LSAs and Supply Kindergarten Assistants will gradually become employees of the school they attend.

As for apprenticeships, Dr Muscat said that these students will begin to be paid the minimum wage for the period that they would be working in an apprenticeship. He said that companies offering apprenticeships will he aided, as the costs could be reduced from their taxes.

Dr Muscat said that the Labour congress will meet towards the end of the week to approve the outline of the PL manifesto, which would be published in the days following.

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