Prime Minister Joseph Muscat used a mass meeting at Triton Square to announce that €50 million generated from the sale-of-citizenship scheme will be spent on a massive social housing project that will create some 500 new units.
“This, together with other social housing projects we have already started, means that this government will be implementing the largest social initiative of our times and this will be part of our legacy as a movement,” Muscat said. “In a few years’ time, we will have around 1,100 new social housing units, at a total investment of €100 million.”
“This is only possible because we have a budget surplus, because our hearts are in the right place and are getting our priorities right, and because we understand that the wealth we are creating needs to be distributed to the many, not the few. Now we will await for our opponents to attack this investment in housing. They will attack it because they cannot stand seeing us helping the neediest amongst us.”
An estimated 20,000 people attended the mass meeting today.
This is the second major project from the National Development and Social Fund, which administers Malta’s revenue from the Individual Investor Programme revenue, to be announced in recent months. Last month, Muscat announced on Xarabank that €5 million from this fund will be donated to Puttinu Cares for the construction of new apartments for cancer patients in central London. Back then, critics accused Muscat of trying to manipulate consent for the IIP scheme.
At least 20,000 people are estimated to have attended Labour’s mass meeting this afternoon
Muscat’s announcement also comes as the government prepares to launch a White Paper on housing intended to stabilise the rental market and clamp down on rent abuse.
“We will be the first government with the courage to introduce measures so that the rental market will not remain the jungle it currently is,” Muscat said. “It is now time to make a leap forward. We will not do things that do not happen elsewhere, but the time has come to offer more stability in prices and give the market more certainty. We will also introduce new responsibilities and rights for landlord. Our aim is create a balance that seeks social justice one that will help landlords have a just profit and provide safeguards to tenants.”
“We will also come down on people who try and cheat the system. I want to be very clear – social housing is there for those who really need it, for those who cannot acquire their own properties because of sickness or poverty and not for those who want to be lazy and try to abuse of government.”
Photo: Partit Laburista
In his speech today, Muscat also referred to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s most famous story – that the Panama company Egrant belongs to his wife.
“A year ago, I had to face the biggest lie in Malta’s political history, and no one has managed to substantiate a single word of what they claimed about me and my family, even after I myself asked for an independent investigation,” he said. “Instead of hiding away and holding back reforms for our country, we opened up further dialogue. We will continue working towards the necessary reforms and we will continue to listen to people. We will never stick our heads in the sand. We understand that we are not infallible and remain open to dialogue and improvements in our systems, to learn from our mistakes and strengthen our assets.”