The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Preferential night electricity rate for those who buy electric cars to be introduced – PM

Albert Galea Sunday, 13 October 2019, 12:36 Last update: about 2 months ago

A preferential night electricity rate for those who buy electric cars is to be introduced in order to encourage more people to buy this type of vehicle as the country looks to shift away from petrol and diesel cars, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on the eve of the budget.

The Prime Minister’s customary Sunday speech was fully centred on the budget, with Muscat delving into the principles which will be guiding the package of measures that Finance Minister Edward Scicluna will announce in Parliament on Monday evening.

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The environment, and namely dealing with car emissions, was a significant player in Muscat’s speech, with the Prime Minister noting in general that this budget will give the signs that Malta’s economic policies are going to fit in with climate policies from across Europe.

A significant choice that has to be made, Muscat said, is to decide when to stop importing petrol and diesel cars and favour electric and hydrogen cars instead. Cars, he noted, are the next biggest polluter after the old power station – which, he pointed out, this government had closed down – and hence need to be addressed.

“We are not going to take away people’s cars; we are going to announce a date after which any car which is imported has to be one which runs on electricity or hydrogen, by which point the prices of these cars would have come down”, he said.

He noted that a preferential night electricity rate for those who purchase such cars was in the offing, and added that this would eventually be spread out to everyone.  He also pointed out that petrol stations must look to change their infrastructure to include electric car charging facilities.

Muscat also said that a big challenge in this regards that governments across Europe are facing is that they earn a lot of money from taxes on petrol and diesel, and notes that a transition period which makes sense must be thought of to alleviate this effect, while it must also be seen how these changes would affect the social sector.

These measures tied into what Muscat called one of the guiding principles of this budget; sustainability.  He said that in spite of the fact that the Maltese economy is now worth €14 billion, one must keep this principle in mind as if the government’s surplus is all handed out at once there will be nothing left for the coming years.

However, Muscat said that what is certain is nobody is going to complain about what has been taken from the in the budget, as the government will not be taking anything from anybody.

“I think that people from many other countries wish they live here, as for them having a government which takes nothing from them – even if it gives nothing – is enough.  In our case, not only are we going to take nothing, but we are going to give things back”, Muscat said.

He said that people can put their minds being at rest that the government will be carrying out another part of their plan for the country, that plan being the electoral manifesto that the people voted for in 2017, and noting that a Labour-led government implements everything that it had promised  in its entirety.

Muscat once again spoke in favour of integration, saying that it is very easy to feed “the dragon of fear” between Maltese and foreigners, and said that he would likely get a lot more applause and cheers if he were to feed this dragon.

“We aren’t here to make people clap however; we are here to speak about a sustainable country and about creating a generation where its members cannot even imagine the problems which we had when we started”, Muscat said having already noted that the government had solved the problems of unemployment, health, and bills among others that it had found when it came into government in 2013.

He said that the budget will reward those families who get up in the morning everyday for work by making their lives easier, by not adding weight on their shoulders, and by giving something back to them when it is possible, before adding that social mobility is a key tenet to the government’s philosophy.

Muscat said that pensioners will be a priority for the government once again, noting that pensions will increase for a sixth year in a row, while he also said that more dignity will be afforded to those person with a disability who are unable to go into the working world.

Towards the end of his speech Muscat took a swipe at the Opposition, remarking he did not agree that the Opposition is lost; “They don’t even know where they are going – you cannot be lost if you don’t know where you’re going”, he said.

He said that what distinguishes the Labour Party is its sense of togetherness, noting that there is reciprocal respect, liberty to speak and criticise, and the ability to still take a decision, which is what distinguishes the party from all else.

Government MP Alex Muscat and Parliamentary Secretary Deo Debattista also addressed the party activity.

 

PN statement

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said “surreal” and “absurd “statements” stood out at the PL activity, with Muscat trying to hide problems he himself created.

In the same week it was announced that James Piscopo has been given another job, which means he is now earning €100,000 a year, Muscat said he was meeting people in need. It said workers and middle class people are experiencing increases in the prices of essential products. At the same time, Malta is at the lower end of the EU spectrum when it comes to salary increases. 80,000 people are at risk of poverty, the PN added.

Muscat also claimed that air quality has improved, when figures released by the European Commission show that air pollution has increased by 28%, the PN said.


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