The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Prime Minister says wage supplement will extend beyond March if needed

Sunday, 10 January 2021, 13:08 Last update: about 12 days ago

While the government has announced that it was decided that the wage supplement will run until March, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that if needs be, the scheme will be extended in order to ensure that no businesses fall behind.

He was speaking during a political activity on Sunday, where he spoke of 2020 and the year ahead.

"This year will be far better than 2020," he said. "There might be those with doubts, and I understand this as we are passing through a difficult time."

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Abela said that he has always kept his feet firmly planted on the ground, listening to people. "I speak with professionals, people from different industries, youths... that is how you know what people are feeling."

Abela said that this time last year, this country was going through a political crisis. He said he had promised that the country would overcome it, which it did. He said he promised to make changes to institutions, adding that he did. He said that they promised they would tackle immigration, adding that the government did. "We promised an efficient Police Force, which we delivered. We promised to improve our country's reputation and today the results speak for themselves."

The Prime Minister spoke of the measures the government introduced to help those who are struggling. In addition, he said that while the government worked very hard last year, he made a single New Year's resolution, to work even harder.

He said that before the 2017 electoral manifesto is completely implemented, the government will not move towards an election.

He described the Covid-19 pandemic as a 'crisis like no other' affecting all parts of life.

He said thousands of jobs were saved. He said businesses kept on investing and kept people in employment. "From the moment we started implementing measures, we noticed the positive effect on unemployment until it started reducing week after week and property sales exploded."

The Prime Minister spoke about education. He said that the government invested €30 million to open schools at the start of the scholastic year, adding that it was money well spent.

"It was a crucial decision to open schools. We could not lose a generation of children. Imagine a whole year of school lost. It would never be recovered as a year is too long."

Abela said that "we managed to keep schools open despite the pandemic and the result of this will be felt years down the line where the children will feel the benefits of this."

He said that this week was not easy, as "we saw the consequences of what could happen when there was the teachers' strike. But I always believed in teachers and educators. I know they made a lot of sacrifices since September. Our main point was that we could not deny our children from attending school to learn, a point many agreed with. The second point was that we cannot put more weight on parents. The Public Health Superintendent agreed that schools should open."

He said that education must not be a controversial subject. "Solutions are found through the art of negotiation, and that is what we did, we sat around a table. As a result of the dialogue, we saw results. From Monday, all our children will go to school, he said, both those in independent schools, state schools and church schools.

He spoke about the International agency DBRS' confirmation of Malta's A (high) level rating, with stable outlook. He said that the agency said that Malta's new administration brought with it new energy to strengthen the rule of law. "This was an international credit agency giving us a positive certificate on how we are managing to make strong changes to good governance."

He said that good governance is a pillar for economic growth.

He said that foreign investors, when looking at Malta, will say how the country kept working through the pandemic, how it kept factories open.

He spoke of wanting to see a strong strategy implemented to help SMEs continue to grow. "Smes are the heart that beats within the Maltese economy.  They employ thousands of workers and sustain thousands of families. "Now is the chance, let us create an opportunity from the pandemic. Now is the chance to prepare to hit the ground running."

He spoke about creating schemes to help SMEs invest in technology and make advances. "I want to see local businesses expand to other markets," he said, while  adding that he believes in Maltese businesses. "We must look at our economy long-term. A sustainable economy, where industry uses cleaner energy," he said.


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