PN’s reaction against Article 7 shows party in disarray - Muscat
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PN’s reaction against Article 7 shows party in disarray - Muscat

Property sector growing at sustainable rate, PM insists

The PN was not believing what its own MPs were saying.

The PN was not believing what its own MPs were saying.

The Nationalist Party’s statement against the suspension of Malta’s voting rights in the EU was testament to the state of disarray it was in as it was now contradicting the position taken by its own MEPs, the Prime Minister said on Sunday.

“I was left baffled how the PN came out against calls to invoke Article 7 with guns blazing... there was no need for such extreme measures,” Joseph Muscat said.

“The fact that the PN is now taking such position shows that it is not believing what it [its own MEPs] is saying, and acknowledging that this [criticism by PN MEPs] is just cheap partisan propaganda, he said.

The Prime Minister made these remarks when addressing a political activity in Ħamrun. Dr Muscat was reacting to the call made a few days ago by Greens MEP Sven Giegold for the European Union to invoke Article 7 against Malta.

Such a measure would result in a member state being denied certain rights such as voting, and would also affect EU funding opportunities.

Mr Giegold made this call after the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption watchdog said that Malta’s criminal justice system was at risk of paralysis.

In a statement issued a few days ago, the PN condemned this call, saying people should not be the ones who were made to suffer the consequences of the government’s wrongdoing.

Dr Muscat said the PN’s statement on the matter highlighted the party’s inconsistency and state of disarray.

“This is what happens when somebody [PN MEPs] repeatedly attacks his own country. People are blaming the PN,” he said.

MEP elections

Commenting on the forthcoming May 25 European and council elections the Prime Minister insisted that this would be no walk in the park.

Referring to the survey published by The Sunday Times of Malta which said that the PL had a 22 percentage point lead over the PN, Dr Muscat cautioned against attempts to instill a sense of complacency within the party.

“I laughed when seeing an analysis which said that the PL had a chance of winning five seats,” he said.

Dr Muscat insisted that under the single transferable vote system used in Malta, it was plausible for a party winning a large majority that it would not even win four seats.

MDA report

Dr Muscat noted that the report published by the Malta Developers Association allayed concerns of a property bubble as it concluded that the sector was growing at a sustainable rate.

Though this sector grew by a robust 9%, the fact that other economic sectors registered an even higher growth rate, showed that it was not driving the economy but the other way round.

“Property is being driven by demand,” he said.

However, Dr Muscat acknowledged that government had taken note of the challenge being posed to first-time buyers by the fact that in a single year property prices had risen by 25%.

“We will not shy away from this problem. There will be various schemes to support them,” he said.

Economy

Dr Muscat hailed the decrease in the number of persons on unemployment benefits from 12,000 in 2012 to 5,500 last December, as testament to Labour’s success in government.

The next challenge, he said, was to raise the quality of the jobs being created to ensure better salaries.

The Prime Minister also welcomed announcements made by SR Technic that outlined plans to invest €40 million and create 350 jobs, as well as the €20 million investment by Toly Products. However, he hinted that much bigger investment, due to be announced in the coming weeks, was in the pipeline.

Dr Muscat said the only way to have long-term sustainable social justice was through further economic growth.

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