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PN is in a state of confusion – as its first electoral proposal shows

It is expected that the major political parties kick off their electoral campaigns by putting forward some of their flagship proposals. As a Labour Party, we have targeted the environmental aspect and the greening of our economic model in our first major proposal. 

Our message is clear: the next decade will be about ensuring a wider prosperity for all. A prosperity that will be driven by a green and decarbonised economic model which puts the environment at the centre of policymaking. 

On the other side of the spectrum, the Nationalist Party is in an evident state of confusion. As the party was receiving resignations from some of its best MPs, the opposition leader dished out a billion-euro proposal which should finance 10 supposedly new sectors – a proposal which halved in 24 hours.

I believe that whoever is in government should strive to ensure an evolution towards a stronger, modern and more diversified economy. This will support the country’s productivity and our competitiveness while delivering better career opportunities for our people.

Let’s talk about what we have achieved in advanced manufacturing, which by the way, includes, but is not limited to, robotics. Presently, it makes up almost 64 per cent of our goods’ exports. In his first proposal, PN leader Bernard Grech simply discarded an industry exporting nothing short of €1.5 billion worth of advanced and high-tech goods and which employs almost 10,000 people.

In his first reply to the budget speech, Grech tried to ridicule government proposals to support the e-sports and drone- prototyping industry together with other investments made in augmented reality, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Being the slogan guru that he portrays himself to be, he had dubbed that budget a “virtual reality” one.

Meanwhile, two years down the line, we have nurtured a home-grown artificial intelligence industry which is making inroads in legacy issues, med-tech and advanced medical diagnostics. In parallel to that, Malta has become the home jurisdiction for international companies in this area with a brilliant future ahead of them.

The next decade will be about ensuring a wider prosperity for all- Miriam Dalli

Less than a month ago, one of these companies, an AI company involved in compliance and biometric identification, became the first-ever Malta-based start-up accepted on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. During the pandemic, this company invested heavily in its Maltese operations and today employs more than 35 individuals, making its base in Malta the largest one across 11 countries.

Once again, it seems that the opposition leader was ill-advised and evidently kept in the dark about the ongoing expansion of these sectors. Grech was also totally oblivious to the fact that 3D printing already exists in Malta. Take a look at the 3D-driven companies hosted in our business incubation centre in Corradino. One particular company is actually developing specialised material for 3D printers which is being distributed worldwide.

Grech is also unaware that social enterprises operate in Malta. This is a sector which employs more than 4,000 people and generates €70 million worth of economic activity on an annual basis. Grech can double-check this with his own parliamentary group which, only a couple of weeks ago, voted in favour of a law that will effectively regulate this industry.

It is also very unclear how the PN decided that these industries should cost €100 million each to develop. This is roughly the same amount that we shall be investing to upgrade the distribution network of our energy sector. Coincidentally, together with the hospitality industry, according to Grech and his associates, these are “new economic niches”.

This is not to mention that Grech left us wondering on how he intends to fund this plan. He stated that half of this amount will be borrowed, that’s roughly a four per cent bump on our deficit, and, for the rest, he seems to be hinting that he might be tapping into depositors’ money in banks.

This first proposal on the first week of the campaign gave us a good glimpse of what the future under a PN government might look like. A sorry state of confusion and disarray. Nothing has really changed from the last years of Lawrence Gonzi’s term.