Prime Minister Robert Abela believes the island’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak will prove to be just as successful as the healthcare management of the pandemic has been.
Speaking on the Labour Party’s ONE media platform, Abela on Sunday announced it would not be too long before the government would reopen childcare centres and summer school Skola Sajf. This was not only important to allow parents to get back to work, but was also key for children.
The decision to shut educational and child-minding facilities had helped limit the spread of the virus but had also impacted children’s education and wellbeing. While online learning had helped, it was important to go back to normality for children.
He also described how he let out a sigh of relief when he started seeing businesses open up again this week.
Malta’s strong economic performance over the years, he said, had allowed the country to invest regularly in improving the healthcare system. It was thanks to this that the island had done as well as it had done during the pandemic, he said.
Abela said that while the “financial sustenance” introduced in the two coronavirus aid packages had helped the public get through this difficult time, the government was now thinking of new incentives to start the economic wheels turning once more.
These, he said, would be aimed towards encouraging the public to spending in the local economy. This would ultimately impact how quickly the country will we be able to start recovering from the crisis, Abela said.
“I am confident that the economic recovery will be as successful as the healthcare management of this pandemic,” he said.
The labour leader said that the relaxation measures rolled out this month had been intended to protect health while also allowing businesses to start operating.
Perhaps this new normal will be a transition before going back to the way things were in February
This did not mean they would operate at full capacity, but in the future he hoped to relax these restrictions even further.
“Perhaps this new normal will be a transition before going back to the way things were in February,” he said.
'Malta had not shirked any responsibility'
Turning to the migration crisis and the government’s controversial decision to close Malta’s ports for migrants, Abela said Malta had not shirked any responsibility.
The island, he said, was now well beyond its capacity, with around one per cent of the population migrants.
Abela said he regularly receives letters and criticism on Malta’s stance, but said he often writes back and asks what they were doing to help save lives.
“If it weren't for Malta, many of these people would drown,” he said.
Abela conceded that it was not ideal that Malta was hosting 300 migrants on board three boats off Malta, but insisted they were all being well taken care of.
“No Maltese wants to see a migrant child drown. That would be on our conscience forever. On the other hand, we can’t just be an open port,” he said.
In closing, Abela said the solution to the migrant crisis could only be found in Libya, by going to the root of the problem.
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