The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Government ‘reactive, selective’ in new economic package – Delia

Wednesday, 25 March 2020, 14:49 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government has been “reactive and selective” in its new economic package, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said on Wednesday.

Speaking in a press conference on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Robert Abela unveiled a new economic package to help businesses worst-hit by the Coronavirus crisis, Delia said that it is yet another set of measures which has arrived too late given the circumstances of the moment.

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Delia said that, contrary to what Abela said on Tuesday night, the package was revealed so soon – six days – after the last due only to the widespread negative response that it had received.

“Because the government reacted too late, there are workers who have lost their jobs already”, Delia said, noting that the government had understood this because they stipulated that the measures were introduced retroactively.  

The economic package unveiled on Tuesday is worth some €70 million and will see, amongst other things, the government paying €800 per month to some 60,000 workers who work in the industries which are worst hit by the current crisis.

Delia described the package as selective, noting that there are 110,000 workers in the private sector who are being given absolutely no help from the government, and who have no idea as to whether they will ever receive help.

The Opposition Leader said that out of the 25,000 self-employed people in the country, only 7,000 will be able to take advantage of the measures announced on Tuesday.  The rest are left in danger and in the dark on how they are to sustain themselves and their families, he lamented.

He also pointed out that no explanation had been provided when it comes to the guarantees mentioned in the second package introduced six days ago, noting that banks up till this morning still did not know how this will work.  “Every day that passes is a day too late for many small businesses”, he said.

Delia also lamented that the Prime Minister had failed to answer a simple question as to why the government had neglected to reduce water and electricity bills by half – a proposal already made some days ago by the party, especially now that the price of oil is below $30 per barrel.

“Who is tying his hands?  Who is taking advantage of Maltese families?”, Delia questioned.

Delia noted how Abela was on one hand speaking about national unity, but on the other hand had reverted to partisanism when asked about this proposal.

Abela on Tuesday responded that "the PN would be credible speaking about energy bills when it pays the more than €4 million it owes to the authorities."  The PN has since reacted saying it will take legal action against the Prime Minister for the remark for a breach of data protection laws.

“Let’s rise above politics”, Delia appealed.

“We are ready to give help in any way possible and we will continue to make proposals.  Each one is discussed, calculated, and makes sense; and one after the other the government is adopting them”, Delia said.

“Nobody should suffer more than others.  That is the level of preparedness which we expect from the government.”, Delia concluded.

 

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