Prime Minister Robert Abela said that next week, the government will unveil the details regarding the €1 million in support it will provide to bars and clubs that were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the end of December, the government said that it will allocate €1 million to bar and club owners whose businesses have been closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic since October.
He said that the government was sensitive to the needs of this sector that struggled most due to the pandemic, given that they had to close so that the spread of the virus could be controlled.
This week, the National Tourism Strategy will also be launched, he said, to provide direction on how to sustainably expand the industry.
Speaking during a political activity in Tarxien, Abela also spoke of how well the country has worked through the pandemic, and looked at other countries and their struggles. “Thanks to our work, our investment in the health sector, there wasn’t a single moment over the past months where the health authorities could not keep up with the demand.”
The Prime Minister also spoke about the government’s proposals in terms of how the construction industry should change. He said that there is a need to improve it, adding that certain past practices are not acceptable. “We showed where we want to go.” The priority, he said, is that people have a right to peace of mind in their homes when there is construction next door, and that people be able to enjoy their homes.
The industry sent a positive response to the proposals we made, he said, referring to the bill tabled in Parliament that will create the Building and Construction Authority.
He said he looks forward to continue working on improving the industry. He stressed that by regulating the sector it does not mean that the economic rhythm will slow down. He said that regulation is not a weight around the sector’s neck, but rather that robust regulation makes it sustainable.
He said that, aside from discussing changes to the sector, he presented the report that was commissioned after Miriam Pace’s death. He said the government must do all it can to ensure that such an event does not repeat itself.
Once the report was drawn up, the government worked on creating laws and presented the Bill in Parliament, Abela added. “The report they drafted is the basis for discussion on reforms,” he said.
The Building and Construction Authority will protect people’s rights, he said. “Priority will be given to people, to those who are affected by development next to where they live.”
He said that the bill is not to be seen in isolation, but said that the government is looking at a holistic reform.
Turning to Covid-19, he said that there is still a struggle ahead, but looks forward to running forward economically.
He said that 2020 was not an easy year, claiming that it was probably the hardest year to lead a government in Maltese history.
A strong healthcare sector was the reason the country was able to keep working, he said.
The Prime Minister said that if the country was in a lockdown, it is doubtful the government would have been able to create any of the change that it has brought about.
“We never went for a lockdown, and this was a crucial decision. If we did, we would have faced consequences that would not have been easy to come out from.” Abroad, he said, there are major economic consequences as a result of lockdowns that took place.
He said that the government worked on testing people for Covid-19 as much of possible, a strategy which he said worked. He explained that the government invested in medical facilities, and said that the vaccination process is progressing smoothly, adding that Malta is the best in Europe in vaccination rates.
The Prime Minister spoke about security and policing, saying that people have a right to go out into the street without fear.
Referencing a report on crime in 2020, he stressed that Malta has a low rate of criminality.
“The country registered a substantial reduction in crime reports in 2020, 2,500 reports less than 2019,” he said, adding that this shows that the government’s crime preventions strategy is working.
He said that more police presence in the streets helped, referring to Community Policing.
He is proud that the government has reinstalled a sense of respect for the uniform, a sense of respect for the police. “A change brought about as the people believe there was a tangible change in the way the police operate.”
During his speech, he also took aim at the PN’s reshuffle. The final result, he said, is that his MPs made a reshuffle of the reshuffle. He was referencing the alleged changes to the shadow cabinet that were meant to take place, but in the end did not.
“Imagine if they had to take the decisions we had to take, to save the economy, decisions on migration and health. Imagine if we weren’t leading during the pandemic,” he said, questioning the PN’s ability to lead.
He said PN is so tied down in an internal struggle that they have no vision. Without unity you cannot lead a party, let alone a country.