Monday, 11 May 2009

Independent: Malta needs strong MEPs

Malta needs a strong EP representation as opposed to weak people to fight illegal immigration at EU level, said opposition leader Joseph Muscat yesterday at a party activity in Rabat.

The activity, as part of the run-up for the 6 June EP and local council elections was held in the form of an interview by presenter John Bundy.

“The Labour Party can negotiate strongly in the country’s interests,” he said. “The EU is not a place for feeble discussion and there is no space for the drawing up of excuses in the name of Europe,” he added.

Only a strong voice could achieve respect, he said while referring to when he, as an EP member was not allowed to express himself in Maltese and left the room. Subsequently, Maltese MEPs were given interpretation facilities.

He said that Malta could have easily started to address the immigration issue at EU level way before. Years ago Dr Muscat had said that if acts of solidarity were not forthcoming from the EU, Malta should give immigrants the necessary assistance to proceed on their way.

One of the PN MEPs had said that this was not possible and described it as a wrongdoing. However, cabinet made a turnaround last week and approved it, Dr Muscat said.

Many people had referred to the Immigration and Asylum Pact as a huge victory for Malta last October, he said, but they were now working on sealing an obligatory agreement, when PL had called for this from day one.

PL MEP Louis Grech three years ago had proposed the setting up of an asylum agency in Malta. The PN MEPs together with the conservatives had voted against this agency but they are now speaking of it.

Dr Muscat also referred to exploitation of migrant workers who were filling in posts of Maltese people with decreased conditions and salaries of e2 per hour. Maltese workers had to face exaggerated burdens and taxes while the government was allowing such illegality.

A serious system is necessary to cut down on exploitation, Dr Muscat said.

In reference to employment opportunities, he pointed out how the PN MEPs wanted EU workers employed in another country, to be paid according to conditions of their home country. This meant that a Romanian employee who came to work in Malta received the minimum wage of his country which is much less than that in Malta.

This would translate to reduced conditions for Maltese workers or more foreigners being employed in Malta. However, Dr Muscat said, such legislation was not passed thanks to the European Socialists

Young people today aspire to have better employment opportunities and satisfying working conditions that allow space for improvement but the local educational system was failing to address the needs of half the children who left school without having acquired basic skills.

Dr Muscat believed that the country was not reaching true competitive aims. Unemployment had shot up by 31 per cent in Malta in the past eight months as a result of the government’s inaction over the faltering economy.

He said that hiked utility tariffs had put jobs in danger while families and businesses will not benefit from any decreased tariffs on bills they received to date. The revision announced last week was not going to affect water tariffs or electricity meters and bills were still equivalent to a 100 per cent surcharge, Dr Muscat noted.

He also answered questions on a number of civil matters including divorce on which he agreed but wanted to grant a free vote to PL MPs once in government, and granting rights such as recognised civil partnerships to gay people. He also expressed himself against abortion.

Meanwhile, in a statement, PL EP seat contender Edward Scicluna said that Gozo needed a generous public service contract in transport between the islands which will shortly be liberalised.

No comments:

Post a Comment