Updated 11.45am

This year’s Budget will be unveiled on October 11, Prime Minister Robert  Abela said on Sunday. 

Speaking during an interview on the Labour Party’s ONE radio, Abela said the government was working hard on the upcoming budget that will be announced on October 11.  

Abela recalled how the government had announced a “mini-budget” during the height of the pandemic in which some €900 million were dished out in financial support for businesses and families.

“This was money well spent. I say again, money well spent,”  he said, recalling the wage supplement that had kept workers in employment.

By contrast, Abela said the Opposition was a party of austerity.  

Abela dedicated much of the interview to a glowing review of the government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Detailing “wise” policy decisions, Abela contrasted these against the Nationalist administration’s handling o the 2008 economic crisis.  

How could the electorate trust that the PN in government would not do the same again, he asked.

Central Link trees were sacrificed but others planted

The Labour leader then turned to the infrastructural upgrade to the road network between Attard and Rabat, which is set to be completed in a few weeks

The so-called Central Link project had come under fire from residents and conservationists after a significant number of trees were uprooted to make way for road widening. 

Abela on Sunday said that some of the trees that some feared would be torn down had in fact not been touched. He then conceded that a number of trees had to be “sacrificed” but said others had since been planted to compensate for this.  

He said the project, which is nearing completion, had already resulted in shorter travelling times, and lower emissions.  

Marsascala marina is not set in stone

Another infrastructural project that has stirred controversy in recent weeks is a possible marina in the southern coastal town of Marsascala.  

On Friday, hundreds of people gathered in Marsascala to protest against Transport Malta’s plan for a yacht marina in the locality.

Residents, activists and councillors have over the past weeks expressed concern and frustration over TM's call for tenders to construct a yacht marina in Marsascala.

Weighing in on this, Abela insisted that the project was not cast in stone and that the authorities were still exploring possibilities.  

As a resident of the town himself, Abela said he was aware of the sensitivities.

The Marsascala that many know and love, he said, “the evening walks along the promenade, stopping for an ice cream, maybe an elderly man sitting on a bench”, would have to be guaranteed.  

However, on the other hand, Abela said that, as a resident, he was well aware of the infrastructural shortcomings in the town, which he said was well in need of an upgrade.  

While ensuring that access to the coast and swimming zones should be respected, Abela said that at this stage the authorities were simply exploring possibilities. 

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