Updated 1.45pm with PL reaction
Malta’s low ranking on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index showed the government’s failure to make the country attractive to foreign investors, Adrian Delia said on Sunday.
“In five years, the government has not only stifled opportunities for those in Malta, but now when those abroad look at Malta they see the difficulty of doing business here,” the Opposition leader said in a brief phone-in on Net FM.
The 2019 Doing Business Index published last week ranked Malta lowest among EU countries, and 84th out of 190 countries in the index.
However, Malta was actually ranked 102nd on the 2013 index, and has improved steadily since then, peaking at 76th in 2017 before dropping off slightly to its current position.
The rankings are drawn up on the basis of metrics including the time required to start a business, the ease of dealing with construction permits, paying taxes and others.
Dr Delia pointed to difficulties, identified in the report, with obtaining loans and with the level of bureaucracy surrounding business, and accused the government of playing fast and loose with the country's reputation.
He also continued his criticism over electricity and water bills, which he said the Prime Minister had now admitted were being issued wrongly, but which there was still no clear plan to address.
“Government has admitted that it’s robbing 80 per cent of people, but there's no guarantee of how it will be sorted out or whether people will be refunded,” he said, adding that the PN would pay back any excess tariffs.
Dr Delia reiterated his criticism of the Budget as failing to acknowledge people’s day-to-day realities, including the increase in cost of living.
On the environment and air quality, he said the Prime Minister was not showing any concern about the situation, despite air quality being the fourth lowest in the EU and people experiencing greater levels of respiratory illnesses and related costs such as inhalers.
“If you don’t even admit the problem, there’s no way you can solve it,” he said.
'Delia didn't read the Budget' - PL
The Labour Party reacted to Dr Delia’s speech by suggesting the Opposition leader “had not read the Budget speech”.
“Had he done so, he would have realised that it features the country’s biggest-ever capital investment and budget allocations," the PL said.
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