PM insists deficit will be cut to below 3%
The deficit was expected to be cut to below three per cent by the end of the year, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.
“God willing, we will finally be able to say that Malta will be one of the few countries to have reduced its deficit to below three per cent this year which was one of the hardest for us,” Dr Gonzi told a political meeting at the Nationalist Party club in Qormi.
Dr Gonzi was given a hero’s welcome by a huge crowd waiting both outside and in the building where they chanted “Gonzi, Gonzi” and cheered loudly.
The event was happening just two days after an opposition motion of no confidence in Transport Minister Austin Gatt was defeated by the Speaker’s casting vote as Nationalist MP Franco Debono abstained. The government has a one-seat majority in the House.
Dr Gonzi challenged Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat to publish his plans to reduce the water and electricity tariffs, especially after Dr Muscat said in an interview with The Sunday Times that he would “unveil details when the time is right”. “I challenge Dr Muscat to publish them in the national interest,” Dr Gonzi said.
It was very easy for Dr Muscat to say he would reduce the utility tariffs but could he guarantee that in 18 months’ time, when the election was held, the country would not be facing a situation of economic crisis, similar to what Greece was facing at the moment, because, say, the price of fuel shot sky-high, he wondered.
“Would Dr Muscat keep the interconnector between Malta and Sicily? How would he pay for it and cut the tariffs if oil prices were high,” Dr Gonzi asked.
While Malta was busy welcoming Libyan refugees during the uprising, Dr Muscat followed the example of the Italians and said these should be left to drown while he was sending e-mails to a journalist at RTK, he continued.
“We have been waiting three years for his suggestions on how the country should move forward – having constantly tried to set obstacles for us – and the only proposal he made so far was for to a journalist to betray her employer,” Dr Gonzi said.
“The public transport reform is of enormous importance to our country and, although we made great steps forward, it isn’t what we want it to be. But during Friday’s debate (on the motion of no confidence), I couldn’t forget that the Greek Parliament was also debating Europe’s future,” he said.
Not once did Labour come up with one serious proposal on how we could continue to improve the transport system and iron out the difficulties that people have faced and continue to encounter when using public transport, Dr Gonzi added.
The government’s top priority is “jobs, more jobs and better jobs”.
Speaking about tomorrow’s vote of confidence in the government, Dr Gonzi said: “Next week’s vote will confirm a strong and stable government that will remain focused on people’s needs”.
The Labour Party insisted Dr Muscat had “clear and concrete plans” to reduce the utility bills”, which were not limited to one solution.
Dr Gonzi wanted a solution to the problems brought about by the electricity rates and did not listen to proposals made by European Commissioner John Dalli, Labour said.