Updated: ‘The government has bought Villa Gwardamangia’ – Muscat

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Updated with a statement from Partit Nazzjonalista

Villa Gwardamangia has been bought by the Government, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on Tuesday.

He explained that Villa Gwardmangia which served as the residence of Queen Elisabeth II when she was still a princess, will be restored and turned into a “mecca for tourism”. After restoration takes place, Villa Gwardamangia will be open to the public. He added that the government needs to initiate talks with the local council since the project will impact the area and is expected to increase the flow of traffic.

The Queen’s former residence had been listed for sale over the summer on Frank Salt’s website carrying a price tag of €5,950,000.

EU approved Malta’s budget ‘without hesitation’

The European Union has accepted Malta’s budget ‘without hesitation’, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat informed the House on Tuesday.

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia addressed parliament on Monday, a week after Finance Minister Edward Scicluna read out the budget for the upcoming year. During his speech Delia spoke about poverty, housing, pensions and the lack of long-term plan.

Addressing parliament, Muscat said that Maltese believe that the country is moving forward, explaining that help has been provided to all sectors of society. Keeping to the theme of this year’s budget, Muscat said that the upcoming budget will reward those hardworking individuals who deserve it while helping those in need, including the most vulnerable.

Muscat noted that he was expecting Delia to mention ‘his buzzword’ from the previous week, that the budget was ‘recycled’. Muscat added that the budget was indeed ‘recycled’ since no new taxes were introduced for a third year in a row. He remarked that for the government ‘recycling’ does not has a negative connotation.

MV Erika

Prime Minister Muscat said that the Opposition Leader was right to mention the case of MV Erika, a Maltese flagged ship that had sank off the French coast causing a major environmental disaster.

He continued saying that at the time, when Partit Laburista was in Opposition it worked with the Nationalist-led administration to safeguard Malta’s reputation.

“Irrespective if you’re Maltese from Burmarrad or an African from Sudan, you still have to follow the law”

Reacting to the statement made by the Opposition Leader on Monday, Muscat thanked the AFM, the police and AWAS employees.

Speaking about the protest which turned violent, Muscat said that the incidents were not a question of nationality and were condemnable and could never tolerated, everyone has to follow the law.

A person residing at the Open Centre was not allowed to his bed and belongings because he was drunk on Sunday. Being drunk goes against the regulations of the Open Centre, Muscat explained.

“Irrespective if one is black or white, if there was someone who committed arson, damaged third party property, it could have been someone who is a Maltese from Burmarrad like myself or an African from Sudan, like some of those arraigned, they broke the law, they were taken to court and will receive due punishment,” Muscat told the House.

The Prime Minister highlighted that the Maltese are a nation of migrants, remarking that some one third of the Maltese have relatives who have emigrated.

Both parties increased pensions – PN increased retirement age, PL increased the pension cheque

Miguela Xuereb

On the subject of pension, Muscat said that both Partit Nazzjonalista and Partit Laburista in government increased pension, adding that the PN-led administration increased the retirement age while the PL-led administration increased the cheque.

He remarked that a report prepared during the PN-led administration had recommended the increase of foreign workers as a measure to keep pensions sustainable.

‘The Nationalist-led government had dismantled Lohombus,’ Muscat said, when speaking about pensions. He added that it is not true that 4,000 people are waiting for housing. The current figure stands at 2,900, remarking that the government has launched the biggest housing project in the country which will see 1,700 housing unit developed.

Quoting the IMF report, Muscat said that statistics showed that poverty is decreasing in Malta.

State of climate emergency

Both sides of the House can reach an agreement on the motion on declaring a state of climate emergency put forward by the Opposition, Muscat said. He remarked that Malta has already committed itself to targets concerning climate change.

Delia should have imported 1,000 foreigners to address PN’s debt’

Speaking about economic growth, Muscat said that the Opposition Leader should have imported 1,000 foreigners to solve the PN’s debt. On Monday, Delia argued that the government’s economic model is based on increasing the population number and in turn increasing domestic consumption.

He remarked that students who are in their first and second year, already have a job awaiting them. 18% of the foreign workers are in unskilled work while the rest are in managerial jobs due to the existing skills gap, Muscat explained.

“Public still concerned and worried about Ħal Far incident” – PN

In a statement, PN stated that the public is still worried about what happened in Ħal Far. It added that Muscat refused to answer its questions in Parliament.

The Party mentioned how Muscat usually boasts about the hospitals led by Steward Healthcare and about the American University of Malta, yet they were also left undiscussed during yesterday’s session.

The Opposition highlighted several points which it believes should receive attention, being early school leavers, the abundance of foreign workers, middle-class families not affording the cost of living, educators and teachers, the elderly, and the self-employed, which government “continued to ignore”.

PN insisted that it has a vision, where economic growth is not just measured using GDP, but also by the standard of living and quality of life.