The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

‘We showed why we remain the most credible force to lead this country’ – Abela

Albert Galea Monday, 11 October 2021, 22:52 Last update: about 3 days ago

The Budget for 2022 shows how that Labour Party remains the “most credible force” to lead Malta, Prime Minister Robert Abela said in his post-Budget press conference outside Castille on Monday night.

Abela emerged from Castille, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, to address the press conference soon after the latter had finished his two-and-a-half-hour speech in Parliament.

“Today’s Budget reflects the government’s and the people’s priorities.  Social justice in a country which creates new opportunities in a better environment,” Abela said, essentially surmising the philosophy behind the Budget in a single sentence.

Abela harked back on how the previous two years or so had not been easy, with his legislature having to steady the ship from “difficult political circumstances” left by his predecessor Joseph Muscat and having to then deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This evening, we showed that while we remain the most credible force that is able to lead this country, we also believe that progress is not measured in just GDP,” the Prime Minister said.

That’s why, he said, this is the Budget with the most social measures in the country’s history, he added.

Abela ran through the major measures of the Budget as explained around an hour earlier in Parliament by his colleague Caruana, saying each time he came to an end on a particular topic that “this is the Malta we want to leave for our children.”

That same slogan was used in his emphasis on a crackdown on those who have unpaid dues with the taxman, wherein Abela said that people cannot escape their duty of paying taxes and that these taxes will be invested so that a better country can be left to Malta’s children.

“If we face the challenges of today and tomorrow without a vision, then the country may fall apart.  That’s why we need a competent and united government which can deliver.  Today we showed that we are this government,” Abela said.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne labelled the Budget as a “good news Budget”, because it is one that can finally put the Covid-19 pandemic on the “backburner” – even if the virus is still with us and will remain with us.

“We are in this position because we were disciplined.  The question now is: is it possible for us enact this Budget?  Yes, it is.  Like it was possible for us to face and control a pandemic which broke the world, it is.

“We showed what we can do when we are going through a storm; now we can show what we can do when the sunny weather starts to arrive,” Fearne said.

The bulk of the questions posed to the Prime Minister after the press conference centred on the possibility of an early general election being called, with speculation in recent weeks mounting that the general election – which must come at the latest in September 2022 – could be called for November. 

Speculation was even rife that Abela would use the post-Budget press conference itself to announce the election.

However, no announcement was forthcoming, and Abela said that his government was committed to implementing the Budget.

“It’s not a question on everyone’s lips… what I promised some weeks ago was that we would announce the Budget and then implement it.  We’ve announced it, now we need to implement it,” Abela said to one question.

“I think the only person concerned about the general election is the Opposition leader,” Abela chuckled when asked the same question by a journalist from the PN’s media house.

Abela said that his only concern is bringing the country out of the pandemic.

“There are a number of months left in this legislature, and our focus is to implement the Budget and make the necessary changes which this country needs to continue to advance,” Abela said.

 

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