Sunday, 21 October 2018

Muscat: Private sector involvement will lead to world-class health infrastructure

Prime Minister answers questions on areas including health, migration, plans for Air Malta, cryptocurrencies and marijuana


If health sector work relied only on government investment, what will take two to three years to do through a public-private health care partnership, would instead take 15 to 20 years to achieve, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

Addressing supporters at a question-and-answer event at the Marsaxlokk Labour Party club, Muscat said that the private sector involvement would be crucial for Malta’s health care system, and would have a role in creating a world-class health infrastructure in a short period of time.

“Work such as the Mount Carmel Hospital project, the re-opening of St Luke’s Hospital and the overhaul of Karin Grech Hospital can only be done through a partnership with the private sector,” he said, “This will lead to a situation were foreigners are able to come to Malta to receive the health care they need.”

“Health care will remain free and will become more sustainable,” he highlighted.

Regarding the government’s negotiations with the Medical Association of Malta, Muscat said that what the union was asking for - that the transfer from Vitals Global Healthcare to Steward Health Care does not take place - was not the best way forward.

He said that the government would be allowing the necessary space for dialogue, and that if it and MAM were both willing to clarify matters during the discussion scheduled for Monday, the reaching of an agreement was possible.

Migration has role in Malta’s economic success

Replying to a request for this thoughts on the migration issue, the Prime Minister said that while he understood arguments against having an uncontrolled influx of migrants, he in no way condoned those who said they didn’t want any foreigners amongst the Maltese.

“Part of our economic success is due to foreign workers, several of which do work which the Maltese do not want to do,” Muscat maintained, “In any expanding economy, there will be sectors in which the locals do not wish to work in, and it is migrants who are willing to do such work. In this regard, they are helping us.”

He stressed that all necessary measures will be taken to address crime-related problems, but that such measures would not be only against foreigners but against anyone who broke the law, with no consideration of skin colour.

“I’d like to remind people of the words of [former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader] Dom Mintoff, who said that Malta was a country of migrants. All of us have family members who migrated to countries like the United States, Canada and Australia. Mintoff’s dream was that, instead being a country where its people left to other lands, Malta would be in a situation where migrants were instead migrating to it. We are now living this dream,” Muscat said.

“Now that all onboard at Air Malta, we are going to take off”

Asked about the government’s plans to make Air Malta the airline of the Mediterranean, Muscat said that the government was putting in place a strategy for the airline to grow in the next few years and become a carrier which not only linked Malta to the rest of the world, but also connected third countries together.

“Now that all are onboard, we are going to take off,” he remarked. “I am convinced that Air Malta’s turnaround will continue. We want to see a transition not only from the airline making money instead of losing it, but for it to become a great asset in Malta’s communication with the rest of the world”.

Cryptocurrency risk needs to be “managed”, Malta to be first with structure for medical cannabis

Replying to questions on what the government planned to do in the area of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, Muscat conceded that these could bring with them a degree of risk, but that Malta had to “manage the risk”.

“We are going into this sector and are being very cautious - it is a completely new area. What will make us innovative is our drive to be at the forefront, to control the risk and proceed. The government has decided to go forward in the area of cryptocurrencies.”

Asked by marijuana advocacy movement Legalise It, Malta! on the future of the drug in Malta, Muscat reiterated the Labour Party’s electoral manifesto commitment for there to be a consultation and discussion process on legalising cannabis.

“We are also prioritising opening the market for medical cannabis, whereby such medicine can not only be imported, but will also be grown and manufactured locally,” he told his supporters, noting that medical cannabis produced on the island will be exported to other European countries.

He also announced that a market leader in the medical marijuana sector would be basing its operations in Malta.

Voting at 16 will become ’natural’

Questioned on the matter of 16 and 17-year-olds being able to vote but not to contest elections, the Prime Minister said that this was a matter which required a very strong education process to be in place.

“We need to teach students what it means to be part of the democratic process in a country. Teaching 'responsibilisation' is very important”, he maintained, adding that in the next decades, allowing 16-year-olds to vote would be seen as women's suffrage.

Muscat had little to say about Friday’s Nationalist Party shadow cabinet reshuffle, merely remarking that former PN leader Simon Busuttil, who was given the role of spokesperson for good governance, should start by “investigating his own leader [Adrian Delia].”

source: maltatoday.com
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