Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech presented very different views on what the nation needs, with Grech saying that the nation needs political transparency, and Abela saying that the nation needs economic prosperity.
The State of the Nation Conference, held on Friday, brought the two political leaders together to share their thoughts on the current state of Malta.
Grech, who spoke first, spoke about the “harm” that the Labour Party has caused to the nation.
Initially, Grech said, the Nationalist Party trusted the Labour Party and believed that it had the interests of the population at heart.
“In the last few years, this sentiment was lost” and replaced by an “ugly shadow”, especially in the last few months, he continued.
The nation has doubts over whether those who are in power are interested in the nation’s wellbeing or if they are looking to steal from the public, he said.
While the truth is slowly starting to emerge, Grech said, people in the highest position of power in Malta are systematically and in a calculated manner trying to hide things from the country, keeping them in the dark of what their true intentions are.
Grech cited a number of incidents that have been at the top of the Nationalist Party’s agenda as of late and stressed the harm they are doing to the nation. Among them, he spoke about Public Broadcasting Service’s unbalanced coverage of PN affairs, a subject which was broached in a PN press conference on Thursday.
Not only is it important that the PN is given a voice on the state broadcaster, he said, but also that academics, civil society and voluntary organisations are given a spotlight.
Additionally, he added that institutions need to do their work with the intention of defending the population, rather than directly abuse of it.
“The law should be above everyone, even above those who devise them”, he said.
However this is not the case in Malta, he said, where the police force is moving at a snail’s pace to investigate the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“The state of our country is that people are demanding truth and justice, but those who are supposed to be defending our population from criminals are defending the criminals themselves instead”.
Prime Minister Robert Abela, who immediately followed Grech’s address, spoke about Malta’s successes, particularly in light of its swift vaccination roll-out and handling on the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is the success of the nation”, he noted.
The Government will seek to help those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, particularly those who have lost their work, their home, and also youths who feel disillusioned to start their careers, Abela said.
According to Abela, what the nation is in need of the most is “a strong economy”.
“A strong economy will provide a good quality of life”, he said.
This will be achieved by incentivising inactive people to join the working world, which is the “best investment” the country can make, Abela noted. This will also result in less poverty, and will provide as many people as possible with a roof over their head.
Mental health is also of essence, and more investment will be made into this sector to safeguard the psychological wellbeing of Maltese and Gozitans alike.
Abela added that the struggle between progress and the environment is one of the biggest debates that Malta faces today. While these two elements are typically pitted against one another, he said that they should be brought together and considered as benefitting each other.
Investing in infrastructure that will provide a good quality of life will strike a balance between these two pillars. The Government will also strive to go completely carbon neutral by the year 2050, Abela said.
While Abela said that there is a lot of work to do to improve on the Maltese quality of life, he is satisfied that the Government are continuing their work knowing that the vast majority of Maltese – 87% according to the survey on Friday – are happy living in Malta.