The government will be unveiling a new sports strategy in the coming weeks as part of efforts to raise standards, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on Sunday.
Addressing Labour Party supporters in Siġġiewi, Dr Muscat, who has just returned from Abu Dhabi after visiting athletes competing in the Special Olympics currently underway there, said that the government was working on ensuring sports standards are raised.
Congratulating the athletes in Abu Dhabi who had already won several medals, Dr Muscat said that the Maltese team served as a “symbol of equality”.
“It is such a beautiful thing to honour these youths who are a symbol of equality. They serve as a symbol that Malta wants to celebrate the success of everyone. They teach us that they are not happy with participating but they want to win, despite their different abilities,” Dr Muscat went on.
He insisted that ensuring sports standards were of the highest in the world would continue to improve the nation’s quality of life, something that the government had already succeeded in doing in recent years.
Dr Muscat said that this also meant that the government would not only make sure that more people with disabilities had a job so that they too could enjoy a good quality of life, but it would also be strengthening measures aimed that at those who were absolutely unable to work.
“We will continue to increase the budget so that those people who cannot work would get an allowance that is at least as much as the minimum wage.
“We can only do this because we have a very strong economy that is growing,” the Prime Minister said.
Referring to what he said is a constant stream of positive reports by various credit rating agencies, Dr Muscat said that these reports were important because they served as a reference point to investors.
He then went on to chastise the Opposition for suggesting that the government was paying these agencies to secure positive reports. When hearing such statements by the Nationalist Party, Dr Muscat went on, he did not know whether “to laugh or cry” over the absurdity of the arguments.
“The Opposition needs to get their act together and start making stronger arguments,” he warned.
Pensioners apply for more than €100m in govt bonds
Outlining other measures by the government, Dr Muscat said that pensioners had applied for more than €100,000,000 in bonds offered by the government. Aimed at those who were over 62 and capped at €10,000 per pensioner, Dr Muscat said that the scheme served as proof that people trusted the government. The measure, he went on, also meant that apart from higher pensions, the elderly were also enjoying an added bonus through interest from the bonds. The bonds offer 3% interest, twice an ordinary bank fixed account.
He also referred to the VAT refunds on vehicle registration tax handed out to those who registered their cars between 2004 and 2008. The European Commission had declared, back in 2009, that it was illegal to include registration tax in the taxable amount of VAT levied on car sales. Refunds have since been handed out to thousands of families, Dr Muscat said.
“That is the difference between this government and the PN governments of the past. When we promise something, we are sure that we will be able to keep that promise.
“This is a movement that changes the future. People want change, it always has, and we will continue to provide that,” Dr Muscat said.
New Zealand attack shock
At the beginning of his speech, the Prime Minister also spoke briefly about the brutal massacre in New Zealand on Friday that saw 49 people killed. Expressing condolences to the people of New Zealand, Dr Muscat said that the attack showed that it was wrong to link one religion or one nation to such attacks.
On the reference to Malta on the rifle of the gunman, who inscribed ‘Malta 1565’ on the foregrip of the weapon, Dr Muscat said that whoever thought that the country or its history has “anything to with hate or terror” was wrong.
“Today, more than ever before, our country is a symbol of peace, equality and a nation that welcomes everyone. We have always been this way and we will remain like that,” the Prime Minister insisted.