The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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Price of soft drinks to increase as part of plastic bottle return scheme, PM announces

Neil Camilleri Sunday, 8 October 2017, 11:57 Last update: about 7 years ago

Muscat tells Delia: ‘Wait until tomorrow to see where the surplus is going’

The price of soft drinks will go up as part of a plastic bottle return scheme, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced today.

Speaking about tomorrow’s budget during an activity in Ghaxaq, the PM said the scheme will encourage people to hold on to their plastic and deposit bottles against a refund.  

Muscat referred to this week’s Our Ocean conference, which highlighted the huge plastic pollution problem plaguing the seas, and the drastic effect this has on marine life. He said Malta had, in the past had a good system when soft drinks came in glass bottles. People used to return the bottles back to the shop and would get their deposit back.

The system the government will be introducing is a return to that concept, he said. “Educational campaigns alone are not enough. What we want to do is a campaign where there is an almost automatic collection of bottles against an incentive. The return system will be simple. It will reintroduce the old glass bottle concept.”

While the price of soft drinks would go up, because there will be an added deposit, this will be refunded when the bottles are returned to automatic collection points. “Yes, there will be some extra work but we will also be keeping the country clean and be responsible towards the environment.”

On Thursday Muscat pledged the government’s commitment to be in a position, by 2019, to recover 70% of all plastic bottles produced locally.

Muscat also spoke about the landfills problem, telling his listeners that the country has no space for more such areas “There is a committee of experts that is working on finding the way forward; how the country can use technology to address this challenge. I am pleased to announce that former AD chairman Harry Vassallo has accepted to join this team. Only the Opposition has refused to join. After spending an entire legislature saying that we do not consult them they are refusing to join this committee.”

The PM also took time to answer PN Leader Adrian Delia on ‘where the surplus is going’. The PN leader has been insisting that the wealth being generating is not permeating down to all levels of society.

“People are used to hard budgets in the first year of a legislature but this will not be the case tomorrow. What we will present is our plan to take the country forward. This will be the first budget where we will not be under the watchful eye of the European Commission, having exited the excessive deficit procedure. We are not talking about deficit but about surplus. We are not achieving this by axing jobs, and increasing taxes. Rather, we are doing so while cutting taxes, increasing pensions, giving free childcare, and cutting the national debt.

So I say to Delia: the surplus is being used to pay for the debt that the ones before you have left the country. We are using it to employ more teachers, doctors and nurses, tO increase pensions, the minimum wage, social services, childcare, IVF and homes for disabled persons, and to correct injustices.

My fourth reply to Delia is: wait until tomorrow to see where the surplus is going.”

Muscat said the government will always go as it possibly can, without running the country into huge debts.

He noted that the government has this year implemented 70% of the budget measures announced last year. “Much of it comes from our electoral programme, which means we are implementing what you voted for. In a normal year I would not have been happy with 70%. But this was a year where we had the EU Presidency, with the pressure it placed on our public service, and the general election. So in that context it is a very positive result. We also have to see this in the context that the country registered a surplus. And tomorrow we will tell you how we also expect to register a surplus in the coming year.”

Muscat said the budget would be about building a stronger future. “We are building a stronger future, so that the ones who come after us to not waste time fixing problems but find a strong foundation.”

The PM also spoke about the IVF-related saga, insisting that the PN’s opposition to a law granting medical leave to women who seek IVF treatment abroad was a “vindictive action against a minority.”

The PL and PN have locked horns on the issue after the PN filed a motion to counter a legal notice to that effect, insisting it was not in line with the country’s laws. The PL says the PN is discriminating against lesbian women but Nationalist leader Adrian Delia insists that this is not the case.

He said the government wants to change the IVF law, introduced by a PN government in 2012, because the state had gone into aspects it should not have gone into. “At the time we had agreed to a compromise because the law was better than nothing at all. But we will seek to change it because the state should not go into such things. Why should it decide to help one woman but not the other, based on their personal life choices?”

The PM said that until those changes are made, the government wanted to help women who seek IVF treatment abroad by giving them 100 hours of medical leave. “What the Opposition is doing is just stupid. It is akin to deciding whether to pay for someone’s hip replacement operation based on the colour of that person’s eyes. This is unacceptable in the society I want to live in. So let us debate changing the law. But until then we have to help these people.”


“This is a vindictive action against a minority. There is now a clear definition of what we stand for. People now know that this movement and the Opposition are totally different. The Opposition is the establishment that wants to take the country back and we are the progressive movement that wants to take the country forward. Since the election, we have quickened our pace forward, and the Opposition has quickened its march backwards.” 

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