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Muscat challenges Delia: What's your alternative to an incinerator?

Other options mean a new tax or a new landfill, prime minister says

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has defended plans for the building of an incinerator to treat packaging waste, challenging Adrian Delia to say what his preferred alternative is if the PN is opposing the government's choice.

Dr Muscat raised the subject after the PN's Sunday newspaper Il-Mument said residents in the area around Naxxar were concerned about the plans for the siting of the new incinerator at Għallis. They labelled it a Cancer Factory.

Dr Muscat, who was speaking at a political conference in Gudja, said that Malta had three alternatives to tackling plastic and other packaging waste.

It could be sent abroad at a huge cost of millions of euro, it could take up precious land for a new landfill that would only last 10 years, or it could invest in a modern incinerator.

A committee which made up of independent experts, such as Prof Edward Mallia, and former AD leader Harry Vassallo, had unanimously decided that the incinerator was the way forward.

If the PN was against the incinerator proposal, what was Dr Delia's alternative? Would he impose a new tax to pay for sending the waste abroad? Would he take up land for a landfill after all that had been said about land granted to the American university?

Dr Muscat also said that a law was being prepared that would impose a charge on plastic bottles as a way to encourage their return. Soft drinks could therefore cost 10c more, but that 10c would be recovered when a bottle was returned, as used to be done in the past.  

Earlier, Dr Muscat dedicated a large portion of his speaking time to mapping out the government’s tax philosophy – increasing tax revenues but cutting taxes.

This, he said, was what had happened in the rental market, where declared rental income had shot up from €50million to €184million. This he said had seen €18million more fly into the government coffers.

The same was being done with the government’s plans for vacant properties.

One option could have been to tax vacant properties in a bid to urge owners to renovate them. But instead, the government was paying property owners up to €25,000 to restore these properties and turn them into social accommodation. 

“This is our vision. And from what I understand we are being flooded with applications for this,” Dr Muscat said.

The government, he said, believed there were many roads to success.

A recent visit to a school in Mosta had seen the prime minister meet with a group of students studying agri-business.

“These are students who would not have attended school during the week – today they are even going in on the weekends. This is what we mean when we say there are different routes to success, and we want to open all of them,” he said.

The prime minister said this rational approach was being used to find middle roads too. The government was getting close to a solution on the proposed extension of the Bulebel industrial estate to avoid take up of agricultural land as far as possible.  

In a short speech preceding Dr Muscat’s Finance Minister Edward Scicluna hit out at leaks coming from State entities such as the anti-money laundering team at the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

A cell within the Opposition, he said, had manoeuvred to get its hands on selective documents in a bid to leak them to the press and the international community.

This he said was undermining the confidence in the regulators that was ultimately putting Malta in danger.

These, Prof Scicluna insisted, were regulators that were appointed by previous administrations and kept because of their integrity.

 

 

 

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