PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER

Speech by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during the inauguration of the new Farsons beer packaging facility

Good evening.

It is my pleasure to be here with you today for the inauguration of yet another significant investment by Farsons. A new Euros 27 million state of the art beer packaging facility, which is part of a continuous journey seeking excellence.

Well done to the people who believed in this investment and in the Maltese product, creating a strong Maltese brand. Actually, one can argue that Cisk, as a brand, has morphed into part of our national identity; the pride of being Maltese.

And justifiably so. About 1,000 people are currently employed with this company which is wholly owned by the Maltese. 1,000 productive jobs for people who will now receive and benefit from further training and the improvement of this product family.

Benefiting from an optimal economic climate, record economic growth, considerable increase in consumer confidence and disposable income, and the achievement of a new norm in tourist arrivals – this year, for the first time in our history, Malta has surpassed the 1 million tourist mark in the first seven months of the year – Farsons have decided not to sit back but be a major protagonist once again in this can-do-attitude, which, at the moment is vibrant in our country thanks to the steady growth of our economy.

Our role as government is to keep oiling the engine so that our businesses and local entrepreneurs, who are the powerhouse of our economy, keep flourishing. We will continue to do so, by creating the right climate and taking the right decisions while ensuring stability and peace of mind.

During the past few days, we inaugurated another Euros 9 million private hospital, which will complement the Euros 200 million private sector investment in public healthcare which already started being rolled out. Furthermore we witnessed the signature of an agreement by means of which the Easyjet aircraft fleet will now be serviced in Malta by Lufthansa Technik and SR Technik.

All this did not happen by chance. This is the direct result of the vision we have for the country. Gone are the days when we contented ourselves placing in the middle, and occasionally, being second best. We have no qualms in saying that we aspire to be nothing short of the best. That also means looking at other smaller countries and city states that have achieved so much, and are synonymous with efficiency, competitiveness and world class investment.

As I said, success is not automatic. It means decisions. Not annual, monthly or weekly decisions, but daily decisions that need to be taken. Were we to retract to the comfort zone of run of the mill politicians, postponing for yet another day, families and businesses will pay the price.

So we decide and act. And we know that when one decides, one cannot please everyone, and that will earn some rebukes, some of them quite high up. However I would rather be judged on a decision taken rather than on one postponed.

The result is this new norm in economic growth, amongst the highest in Europe, having the lowest unemployment rate and actual number of jobless people in our history, having the lowest unemployment rate in Europe surpassing also the German and Luxembourg powerhouses. More importantly, having the lowest rate of youth unemployment in Europe.

A lot more needs to be done in combating inequalities, poverty, improving the environment and governance. But we have achieved much together. We have delivered on the single most important factor: jobs. Because work is dignity, and together with education it is the single strongest tool for social mobility.

I wish to thank Farsons for this landmark investment. We are engaged in genuine discussions with this company and other operators in the sector to make sure that our policies are designed in the best way possible. I am particularly keen in seeing the implementation of a system that encourages the handing in by consumers of empty plastic bottles and cans. We have already announced this programme and now I feel we are at a critical juncture to see how this system can live alongside industry driven waste collection, while determining the right level of incentive to the consumer.

Upon joining the European Union, industry gave up on glass bottles, and switched to PET and cans. I will not enter into the merits of that decision. What is clear is that since then the industry, product, market and consumer preferences have changed considerably, and so many millions of euros have been invested. Consequently there can be no thought of turning back the clock.

Despite current schemes, for which industry duly pays its dues, I, for one, am not happy with the way we dispose of our plastic bottles and cans. Giving the necessary monetary value and incentive, can help us better to collect and recycle a material that takes years to degrade, that pollutes our country, and more alarmingly, our seas.

Government believes that the creation of an effective programme aimed to collect and recycle what is effectively a resource, can help us clean our country and also create green, sustainable jobs. This is without mentioning the fact that our landfill is steadily reaching exhaustion level, and this will help to better manage future waste management.

On a personal level, I wish to thank Mr Louis Farrugia for his contribution to the community. I wish to thank him for taking up our invitation to be the first chair of the Imrie?el Industrial Zone Foundation. Two years or so ago, he came up to me with the idea to manage this rather underestimated area with one coherent development strategy. I immediately took up the idea.

Imrie?el Industrial Zone will be an exciting place to be in during the next few years thanks to a number of landmark investments, which will also include new investments by Farsons in the Old Brewhouse. This is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and distinguishable pieces of industrial architecture in Malta.

We look forward to achieve further successes together. We trust you will continue to be important partners in reaching the next level as a modern country; one which punches above its weight.

Source: Government of Malta