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Labour makes promises in transport, education, health, environment, business sectors

Exam fees to be eliminated, new transport system to be announced

The Labour Party made proposals in the transport, education, health and business sectors today ahead of the June 3 general election. 

For the business sector, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said a new Labour government would facilitate access to finance for businesses through the Malta Development Bank. 

He said action would also be taken for payments due by the government to be made on time and the Late Payments Directive and the related interest rates for late payments would apply. 

Rent laws would be amended to protect small businesses. The changes would protect owners but also recognise the goodwill of businesses. 

Dr Muscat said small businesses with income of up to €20,000 could benefit from a VAT exemption, up from the current €14,000 threshold.

The mico-invest programme would be raised to maximum assistance of €50,000 per company, and €70,000 in Gozo.

EDUCATION: REMOVAL OF EXAM FEES

Exam fees would be removed, Dr Muscat pledged, as he promised that a process would start for all exams to be held in the same school.

Negotiations would also start to raise the salaries of teachers, heads and assistant heads of schools while easing the teaching load. Supply teachers and LSA and kindergarten assistants would eventually be given permanent jobs. 

Student apprentices would be given at least the minimum wage while working, with the cost deducted from the employer's tax bill.

HEALTH WILL REMAIN FREE

A tax rebate will be given to those who voluntarily take out health insurance. 

Mater Dei Hospital would be extended and new parking would be created for 700 cars. The number of beds would rise by 230 after the building of a mother and child hospital. The cost would be €35 million.

A psychiatric care hospital would be built near Mater Dei. The cost would be €35 million.

All cancer medicines would be given free and several more medicines would be included in the government list including medicines for prostate, diabetes, osteoporosis, and meningitis.

A new large health centre will be built in the north of Malta along with those planned in Paola and Kirkop. 

Remote patient monitoring will also be introduced so that some patients conditions can be monitored in their own home.  

TRANSPORT: ALL SCHOOL TRANSPORT WILL BE FREE, SUPERVISED

Dr Muscat said all pupils in state, private and church schools will have free supervised transport, thus helping to ease roads congestion.

Students, children, pensioners and people with disability will use public transport free of charge, in a measure costing €3 million. 

Anyone who gives up his driving licence will be given the right to use public transport free of charge for as long as he continues not to have a driving licence.

The car scrappage scheme will be retained. People will also be assisted to buy small motorcycles instead of their cars. 

Proposals for a new mass transport system will be announced in the coming days, he said.

ENVIRONMENT: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Dr Muscat said the constitution will be amended to guarantee the protection of the environment and the right of clean air.

No major public project will be made outside development zones, he said.

Over a period of seven years, the waste recycling plant at Sant Antnin, Marsascala will be closed and new waste recycling processes will be introduced. The black bag processing facility will be transferred to the new plant in Magħtab. The area of the Sant Antnin plant will remain an open space. 

Dr Muscat said the Labour congress will meet at the end of the week to approve the main outlines of the electoral manifesto, which would then be published in the following days.

Asked whether he would ask the Attorney General to publish documents by the FIAU alleging money laundering by his chief of staff, Dr Muscat said that publication would be a criminal act, and he could not instruct him to do anything.

If grounds for criminal action were found, his chief of staff Keith Schembri would resign. He denied that Mr Schembri had offered to resign.

By the same yardstick, the Opposition leader should see the reports made against Beppe Fenech Adami and ask him not to contest the election, Dr Muscat said. 

Asked if Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech would contest the election, he said that was not discussed but he looked forward to having him in the team.

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