The festive season showed how the vast majority of the people are benefiting from economic growth, Prime minister Joseph Muscat told a One Radio interviewer on Sunday.

“Rather than data on economic growth by the politicians, one could see the benefits of a strong economy in the people’s pockets, the streets and the shops. The people can say this was a good Christmas, they felt good, they had more disposable income and could spend more,” Dr Muscat said.

While such growth was thanks to the government’s decisions, the government would not ignore those pockets of society which had not benefited enough so far, such as the unemployed, those who could not keep up with their rents, and those who had health problems, the prime minister added.

He pointed out that with the New Year, people were enjoying higher pensions, an increase in wages and the minimum wage, and an extra day of leave as part of the process to compensate for public holidays which fell on weekends.

Dr Muscat also hailed other recent developments, including the lifting of the 350m euro government guarantee on the power station project and the takeover of the Vitals hospitals concession by Steward Healthcare of the United States. Despite this, he said, the Opposition was still being negative and one did not know what it was all about.

Furthermore, how credible could the Opposition be when its criticism stemmed from a person who reportedly gave medical prescriptions on the phone? 

Sometimes, he said, the Opposition appeared to want to change, but its extremist faction was not allowing the party leader to steer away from the negative route.   

He said he was optimistic for the new year and looked forward to all enjoying Valletta’s status as European cultural capital. This was a national project, started by the PN and successfully continued by the present government, despite the strong criticism against the people involved.

The government, he said, would continue to invest in Valletta, particularly lower Valletta in the area of Evans Building and in the school, which was un an unacceptable situation. 

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