Muscat promises 'possibly controversial' decisions for job creation in Gozo
Labour leader, PM raise Objective One funds issue
Labour leader Joseph Muscat said today that a Labour government was prepared to take controversial decisions to ensure that sustainable jobs could be created for the Gozitans in Gozo.
In an address during a Labour activity in Gozo, Dr Muscat said the cornerstone of the PL's policy for Gozo was the creation of jobs but he did not indicate the decisions he was refering to.
Gozo, he said, should not depend on leftovers. It could contribute to the national economy and should have the environment and incentives to do so.
Dr Muscat said Labour would be prepared to take tough, possibly controversial decisions, in the interests of job creation. The status quo was not good enough. Gozo's environment had to be protected because that was an attraction in itself, but nonetheless, decisions for sustainable job creation needed to be taken in the interests of the people of Gozo.
The PL, he said, wanted to bring about a change of direction within the context of stability because stability was important for private enterprise. Gozo, he said, was witness to a very long list of promised projects which had not been realised Indeed, the capital investment on Gozo was a fraction of what was supposedly planned.
At present, Dr Muscat said, the country was seeing inertia from the government, and even the European Commission had noted this, as its recent comments on SmartCity showed. It was indicative that Austin Gatt and Mepa were blaming each other for the SmartCity delays. The bottom line, however, was that the promised jobs had not been realised. It Minister Austin Gatt needed to be held to account, as did the prime minister.
It was also an eye-opener of the government's attitude how Dr Gatt had said SmartCity had not cost Malta anything, when the prime site had been given up for the project and, it seemed, investment in the infrastructure did not count.
The government's failure, and that of Dr Gatt, was also evidenced in the hundreds of thousands of euros in taxpayers' money spent on consultants for new bus routes which did not work. But the governemnt was not interested in recovering this money.
Dr Gatt noted the government's nonchalance could be seen in the way how the debt since 2010 was up 25% (€31 million)
It was also revealed last week that hospital contractor Skanska was paid €344 million, which was €7 million more than the figure given by the prime minister in 2004 when the prime minister announced a final agreement on the building of the new hospital.
Financial discipline was important, Dr Muscat said. At the same time the government should not continue to bleed the economy dry, but incentive those who wanted to work and grow the economy.
Dr Muscat said he could not understand how the prime minister had not reacted to a declaration by a European Commissioner that Malta would not qualify for Objective One assistance because its economy had improved.
Dr Muscat said the figures for the Maltese economy had improved only in the context that EU averages were down because poorer countries had joined. In truth, Malta was not better off, but the government was keeping silent and not defending Malta's corner to ensure it got the maximum amount of funds possible, the Labour leader said.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, speaking in a recorded interview on Radio 101, concidentally a few minutes after Dr Muscat's comments, said that the Commissioner's comments belied those who claimed that Malta was not making progress.
The commissioner had visited Malta, seen various econmic figures and praised Malta for the way how, since joining the EU, the Maltese economy had grown and Malta was now no longer at the bottom of the EU's scorechart.
All this was good news for Malta, Dr Gonzi said.
Dr Gonzi said, however, that he was not convinced yet that Malta was not eligible for Objective One status and Malta was arguing that at least it should be eligible for transition funds - meaning that any reduction of funds would be gradual.