The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Cabinet reshuffle addresses new reality once Coronavirus pandemic is over - Delia

Giulia Magri Monday, 6 April 2020, 15:33 Last update: about 3 months ago

The shadow cabinet reshuffle shows the Opposition’s priority to address the challenges of the new reality after the Coronavirus pandemic passes, Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia said today.

“Malta has now declared a public health emergency, which means that the decisions about COVID-19 will be taken by the public health superintendent, rather than by our government. Now is not the time for partisan politics, but now we must work together,” explained Delia.

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He said that the Opposition is also focusing on the climate change emergency which, once this pandemic is over, will be a bigger issue than before.

Delia said that employment issues are also a priority, especially at a time when people are at risk of losing their jobs. He stressed that everyone has the right to be protected and that the government should help out every individual, and not only prioritise a few.

He also criticised the abuse of power in Hungary, which the PN has also highlighted in international fora. “We are part of Europe and must discuss what is happening in other countries, and I have already written to EPP President Donald Tusk for an urgent video conference summit.”

A law approved last week by the Hungarian parliament gave Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government the power to rule by decree for as long as a state of emergency declared over the virus remains in place. The legislation drew wide condemnation, including from the EU, the UN and rights groups.

Delia also spoke about the necessity of using Artificial Intelligence in a more productive means. “Malta should lead the way when it comes to a digital society,” he added. 

“We will not allow anyone to be left outside” - David Agius

Deputy leader, David Agius, who is now responsible for the family, social solidarity, pensions and children’s rights, said that his new role and title will look into “taking care of those people who are facing poverty, solidarity, pensioners and other individuals who are facing difficulties.” He said that the Nationalist Party will be proposing innovative policies to help these individuals and to ensure that vulnerable people are taken care of. “We will not allow anyone to be left behind.”

Deputy leader Robert Arrigo, who retained the tourism portfolio, explained that the society we knew a few months ago is no longer there and that we must adjust to the new reality. He said that many businesses will not survive this difficult period and that the government has left out many individuals in the economic package it laid out in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis. “Once this virus is over, tourists will not come straight away, and there might not even be flights. We must keep strong. We are particularly concerned about the stories we have heard about Air Malta workers,” said Arrigo.

“The Nationalist Party expected better from the government; we expected a decrease in the price of water and electricity, better economic packages and aid for our workers. The Nationalist Party will continue to dialogue with each and every sector so that we can plan the future ahead together.”

Alex Perici Calascione, president of the PN executive, said that good governance is essential at this time, and that the PN will continue to fight to safeguard democratic rights. “We need to make sure that we come out of this pandemic with a strong democracy.”

PN secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech said that the government can no longer plan short-term. “We now must begin planning medium to long-term. As a party, we will be looking out for every single person,” he said. He said that after the pandemic, Malta must look out for new opportunities, such as new AI technology and accessibility to EU funds.

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