Updated 11.13am with more detail

Joseph Muscat insisted on Sunday he will not be stepping down “before, during or after” the upcoming Budget, saying he will instead continue to focus on his work to better the country.

The Prime Minister’s comments come in the wake of reports that an internal race among a number of potential contenders – namely Health Minister Chris Fearne, Transport Minister Ian Borg, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and MEP Miriam Dalli – had kicked off.

Dr Muscat has repeatedly stated he will not contest the next general election yet despite the main contenders embarking on unofficial campaigns to take his place, close advisers have claimed the Prime Minister will not be stepping down anytime soon.

While insisting he will not step down in the coming weeks, Dr Muscat on Sunday still did not specifically state when he plans on stepping down.

“I will not resign before, during or after the upcoming Budget. I am focused on the work that needs to be carried out in the coming months to ensure the country continues to prosper,” Dr Muscat said during a recorded interview broadcast on Labour’s ONE radio. 

Dr Muscat kicked off the interview by reaffirming that the government does not stop working in summer, saying it was instead busy working on the Budget set to be unveiled on October 15.

While making sure those doing well will continue to be able to do so, Dr Muscat said that the government also wants to make sure poverty is eradicated. Unlike other administrations in the past, he said, the government acknowledged the fact that some are still living in poverty and will continue to work hard to help those struggling.

MoneyVal report

On the report by the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body – MoneyVal – which said that Malta failed an expert review of its money-laundering regime, Dr Muscat insisted a number of the issues flagged had already been addressed.

“The MoneyVal reports are always critical of Malta but this time around, it also listed a number of things that need to be improved and we are confident the points raised will be implemented,” Dr Muscat said.

Rent law reform

Moving on to the rent law reforms, the Prime Minister lambasted the Opposition and its criticism of the proposed changes, saying the Nationalist Party had a change of heart after certain bodies spoke out against the proposals.

“A few months ago, the Opposition was criticising the government for not protecting tenants. Now that we are doing that, it is criticising us for not protecting landlords, which is not even the case.

“The Opposition’s biggest problem is it does not know what it stands for, unlike the government, which has a clear position,” Dr Muscat said.

Public cleansing

He then moved on to the importance of public cleansing, saying that while there had been improvements in this area, there was still more that needed to be done to ensure the island is in top shape.

“We have a very efficient cleansing department but I am still not satisfied. In the coming months, we will make sure there is better coordination between the different entities. I believe that people are mostly annoyed when the different entities shirk responsibility and claim something does not fall under its remit,” he went on, adding that a national conference on the subject will be held in the coming months.

Helena Dalli and the Equality portfolio

Dr Muscat went on to congratulate Malta's nominee to the European Commission Helena Dalli for landing the equality portfolio. European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement on Tuesday.

“It is a great honour for Dr Dalli and the country. It’s ridiculous when people say this is not an important portfolio. Dr Dalli will be the first European Commissioner tasked with such a portfolio. The agenda for this, as stated by Ms von der Leyen, is never-ending,” Dr Muscat went on.

He also believed it to be the most important portfolio ever assigned to a Maltese commissioner.


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