The private sector should be roped in to help the government deliver major capital projects, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday.
Speaking during an interview on the Labour Party’s ONE Radio, Abela said it would be a “mistake” if the government were to stop being an active participant in driving the economy forward.
While his administration is having to prioritise expenditure due to its policy of subsidising fuel and energy bills, it would not simply bow out of the economy.
Instead, Abela said he preferred the idea of partnering up with the private sector to see large-scale infrastructural projects delivered.
These public-private partnerships, he said, would help keep the country’s economic engine revving.
Abela’s comments come exactly a week after Times of Malta reported that several planned infrastructural projects which were to be entirely financed by national funds are expected to be frozen as the government attempts to cushion the spiralling cost of energy.
The decision is not set to impact projects which have already started, as well as those which are partially funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility and European Regional Development Fund.
Among those projects mentioned in the Times of Malta report was anew ITS campus at Smart City.
Speaking on Sunday, Abela said that particular project was moving ahead.
Economic growth is the key to the country’s success and his administration wants to capitalise on the private sector’s eagerness to undertake major projects.
These, he said, may also include major greening projects which were a headline pledge for the Labour Party during the March general election campaign.
Malta is buying electricity from the European grid for more than five times the price set before the Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic sent prices through the roof.
While energy bills have skyrocketed across the EU, locally, tariffs have remained unchanged for consumers and businesses, with the government opting to absorb the additional costs.
The government is trying to skim €200 million off its expenditure to create an emergency fund to cover the rising cost of energy across Europe.
Abela said the government is committed to its policy of providing stability for the taxpayer.
The government has 1,000 electoral pledges that it plans on delivering to this legislature and Abela said his cabinet s prioritising which of these to deliver immediately.
Turning to the upcoming Budget, Abela reiterated that there would be no new taxes levied, something that perhaps some had come to take for granted, but had been unimaginable before Labour returned to power in 2013.
He said the government would also be adding new medicines to the free government formulary and has plans to add new medical treatments to the national health service.
Earlier during the interview, Abela weighed in on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
He said that during the last legislature the government had purchased the late queen’s Malta residence, Villa Guardamangia. It would soon begin a project to restore it, turning it into a museum on the monarch's life in Malta.
Abela spoke about Saturday's Pride march through the streets of the capital.
He said that he and members of his government had attended as a sign that while Labour is proud of what it has done in the LGBTI sector, "there is still a lot to be done".