Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has vehemently denied suggestions that Malta should have a set carrying capacity of people, warning that this line of reasoning could end up with the country imposing a one-child policy.
During yesterday’s final election debate with Opposition leader Adrian Delia, Muscat was asked by presenter Mario Xuereb whether studies have been carried out on Malta’s carrying capacity.
“There’s already a lot of pressure on our infrastructure and health services,” Xuereb warned. “When will we push the breaks? After all, you can create ten parks the size of the Ta’ Qali, but Malta’s size is what it is.”
Muscat warned that this line of reasoning could one day prompt a government to impose a one-child policy, just as China had done for 36 years
“Do we want to tell Maltese people not to have children because there’s no room for them?” he asked. “We’ll have a problem if we keep reasoning that way.”
The Prime Minister also noted that around 70% of Malta’s foreign workforce are EU nationals, who enjoy the benefits of freedom of movement.
“We should have asked ourselves these questions when we joined the EU 15 years ago,” he said. “The last political party which tried to make people believe their country could be the exception to the rules of freedom movement was the British Tories and look where the UK has ended up.”
On his part, Delia noted that Malta is already the most densely populated country in Europe by quite a margin and insisted the economy can keep growing without people moving to the island in their tens of thousands.
“We want to go for the economic model of added value,” he explained. “The Nationalist Party in government had created sectors such as financial services, aviation, insurance, shipping and pharmaceuticals, all of which contribute a lot of money to the economy without requiring a lot of people.”