The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

14,000 people still living in unacceptable conditions, and tackling this is top priority – Muscat

Sunday, 12 May 2019, 12:09 Last update: about 4 months ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that while the number of people living in poverty reduced drastically since the Labour Party came to power, there are still 14,000 people living in "unacceptable conditions."

 "We believe that we can combat this through jobs, education and social services. When we came into government 43,000 people could not live a decent life, and today, while the population rose, 3 of every 4 people who we inherited in poverty have climbed out of poverty. There are still 14,000 people living in unacceptable conditions, and we do not hide this. This is on the top of our agenda and we will not rest until there is not a single person in poverty in our country."

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 Muscat said that this week, the EU made a mistake and admitted that the economy is going to grow by more than they expected. "This means more jobs and more wealth for everyone to benefit from.  Work is the basis of this movement"

"The Labour Party is the party for jobs. When keeping this point in our mind, we can better see the scope of the party and whether we are succeeding. Work provides dignity for people."

He spoke about quality work, and the opportunity for everyone who wants to work, to have it.

He said that in 2013, Malta had more than 7,000 registering for work. Today, he said, this number reduced to 1,800. "This means that 3 of every 4 people registering for work when we entered government today found a job."

Muscat said that 66,000 jobs have been created over the past 6 years. "What others did in 25 years, we beat in just five years."

 "We managed to reduce unemployment and poverty, and create more jobs. This is why people put their trust in us. It is no surprise as to why the people are at ease with the country's economy."

Muscat said that other countries are concerned over where their children will find work, worry about tax increases, and how infrastructural works will take place. "People do complain in Malta, yes, but their concerns are different," he said, highlighting that people have quality of life concerns locally.

"The economy is not just money or investment. It is a state of thought.  The economy is based on what you believe you will have tomorrow. If you fear tomorrow, you hold back from spending and everything implodes. When people ask what we did, my answer is that we didn't scare people, but gave them a vision, aspiration, work and courage."

This is why our families priorities are changing. The biggest priority of people today is not as it was 6 years ago, asking where they would work, or high energy bills, or on fuel price uncertainty. Today their priority is their quality of life," such as issues like the bus picking up their children for school after they leave for work.

He said that he speaks about today's issues, "as we want to show people that we know about these issues and problems. "Who do you trust to solve these problems, this government or someone else?"

 "We need to take the nest step forward in quality of life. Time is the biggest measurement of this, the time one has with their family, with their children. The time you have to visit your parents. This is our major priority that we have set for the rest of this legislature."

Turning to public space projects, Muscat said that recently the government decided to turn a plot of land in Ta'Qali into a national park. He said that there was the temptation that such a place could see hundreds of jobs created, instead they decided to turn it into a park, doubling the current size of the current park. He said that it will be the first real large national park, that could include camping and picnic facilities. It is a third of the size of Hyde Park in London, he added.

Turning to social housing, he said that thanks to better planning, the government has taken a decision to increase the amount of new housing units by 700.

Speaking about the election campaigns, he asked people to "analyse and compare the way the two parties are looking at this campaign, and this country. Look at what the priorities are. The others still have not understood what their own principles are, and this is why they contradict themselves, that their priorities contradict themselves. Then you notice why they start singing the same tune as someone with their backs against the wall."

"This week they again said that they do not regret the lie they said about my wife and I two years ago." He was referring to the Egrant saga. "I don't expect them to feel sorry nor do I expect an apology. We know what we went through. An apology shouldn't be given to me, but to the Maltese people!"

"They urge us to publish the report. I want to but I also need to follow the advice of the Attorney General. The question is not if we publish it but when. If we publish it now, the AG said, those who need to be investigated would have the advantage. I don't know what scope the Opposition Leader has. A few weeks ago he went to the police saying someone forged his signatures. It appears that there is a rat who enjoys doing this."

"Journalists asked him to publish it, and he said no as it would prejudice the investigation. So he does not want to publish his document as it will prejudice his case, but he wants the report published regardless."

"I want this report to be published, as it needs to be and that's what I promised. The question is when, and the reason is as I do not want to interfere in the work of the AG and the investigators."

He said that the he wants the people behind the frame-up to face justice.

"But I will not press and push as I know where my role as Prime Minister ends. I know that I have an institutional role and I will let the institutions conduct their work and not interfere."


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