Labour leader Joseph Muscat said on Sunday morning that government is playing around with public finances to give the impression that it is controlling the deficit by cutting down on capital expenditure. “This is threatening jobs and economic growth.”
Interviewed on One Radio Joseph Muscat said in the first half of 2012 the deficit reached 4.6% of GDP while debt is now over €5 billion, 76.3% of GDP.
Muscat said that the money being spent on servicing this debt has to be taken away from other areas. “We are spending more on public debt servicing than on education. We could use this money much better, like paying for more Learning Support Assistants for children with disabilities and more support for children with learning difficulties and to cut down on waiting time for operations at Mater Dei Hospital.”
Muscat said that he is convinced that government will boast that it is reining in the deficit not by cutting waste but by cutting capital investment and putting jobs and economic growth at risk.
Muscat said that the Prime Minister has not delivered on his promise that with his safe pair of hands he can manage Malta’s public finances and the economy.
Before the 2008 election, when he knew of the coming economic and financial crisis he promised that by 2010 government’s budget would be in surplus. “He has not delivered on his promise.”
Muscat said that in the party’s congress a few weeks ago the Labour Party pledged to run this country prudently and buy spending money on the right priorities.
Muscat said: “When government plans badly taxpayers have to pay. A case in point is Zammit Clapp Hospital where government had already planned to use it as an Oncology Hospital. Government has to pay up to a €1 million in damages to an architect who had already done a lot of work on the new use of Zammit Clapp Hospital and the plan was scrapped. We could have used that money on facilities for young people with disabilities.”
Muscat said that for all these reasons government cannot be trusted that it is taking the right decision to lease St Philip’s Hospital with the Health Minister saying that St Luke’s Hospital was considered and the Finance Minister saying that it was not. Government is not saying whether it can extend and expand the facilities of St Philip’s Hospital and whether this would mean that for the next three years patients would be kept at this hospital while construction work is carried out on it.
Joseph Muscat said that he is very worried that we might start 2013 without government’s budget being approved as a government MP is saying that he does not want to support the government while the Prime Minister is saying that the vote on the budget is a vote of confidence in the government. “This is destabilizing our economy and is harming our country.”
Muscat said” We have no confidence in the Prime Minister and in his government. The Prime Minister is to blame for the uncertainty and instability that the country is facing. The Prime Minister is scared of Parliament.”