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Government holds first meeting with European Commission on citizenship scheme

Police to investigate how 1,500 enforcement notices were removed from Mepa server

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this morning that the government over the past week had its first meeting with the European Commission on the citizenship scheme.

He said he was positive about the meeting, which served for both sides to better understand each other.

Speaking at a Labour political conference Dr Muscat also stressed that the government was keeping its major promises in the first year of taking office.  That included the promises to cut water and electricity tariffs, the introduction of free childcare, the refund of VAT on vehicle registration tax, and the reduction of income tax.

TRANSPORT AND THE BUS SERVICE

Dr Muscat said the government was not promising a perfect bus service, but it aimed to reintroduce common sense - with the priority being for journey times to be short and on schedule, as the people wanted.

The government had also relaxed parking restrictions in Valletta, giving a boost to business over Christmas. The government would also ensure that the MCP car park was roofed and extended and its roof was also used.

A call for expressions of interest would be issued shortly for the development of more parking spaces in and around Valletta.

ELECTORAL PROMISES

Dr Muscat said the major promises made in the Labour Party electoral programme had started to be implemented. That include the promise to refund VAT on vehicle registration tax, which the Nationalists had ridiculed. In 60 says time, the 40,000 eligible car owners would start being refunded what others had stolen from them. The refunds would be paid over a period of seven years and would cost €30m. The PN had claimed there was no legal basis for the refund. So would the Nationalists stop payments after the next general election? 

Dr Muscat said that under the former government, six persons a day  were losing their job. This trend had now been reversed. Tourism was at record levels.

The best was yet to come, Dr Muscat promised. But Malta had to anticipate international trends to crate unprecedented wealth. What was created in 15 years before, now had to be done in five. As the head of HSBC in Malta had sad, Malta had the credentials to become another Dubai or Singapore, an investment destination of first choice.

CITIZENSHIP PROGRAMME

One such example was the individual investor programme, which other countries also had. But Malta's scheme was better, and other countries did not have their own opposition hindering them, the prime minister said.

The people had initially been uncertain about this programme, and it could have been better explained by the government. But the Opposition's methods had backfired on it, and the majority of the people now agreed with the scheme and the unprecedented economic wealth it would yield.

The government last week had its first meeting with the European Commission on this scheme, Dr Muscat said. It served for both sides to better understand each other's position. Malta had consulted all EU member states before introducing its scheme. In the talks with the European Commission, the government was seeing the commission as an equal partner. But it was asking the Commission whether it had followed the same procedure with other countries which had similar schemes.  Parliamentary Secretary Owen Bonnici represented Malta at the talks.

All countries sought their interests, Dr Muscat said. This week the EU started infringement proceedings against Germany for assisting its car companies in alleged breach of regulations. Germany had not withdrawn its cars, but had started talks with the EU.

Malta was doing likewise on the citizenship scheme.

150 ABSENT FROM SCHOOL FOR TWO YEARS

Dr Muscat said it was scandalous that some 150 students had not gone to school for two years. The government would look into why these young people had not gone to school, but also why nothing was done about them.

It was also scandalous, he said, that some 1,500 enforcement orders had been removed from the Mepa server before the general election, an issue which would be investigated by the police.

150 not gone to school for two years

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