Metro possible if population grows, taxes increase: Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Wednesday said that a metro network in Malta is possible if the population of the country continues to grow or the taxation is increased.

“Without growth in population, a metro can only happen through an increase in tax, because no operator would be able to provide the service at a profit. Therefore, we need either more economic growth or more taxation,” he said.

Muscat stated this during a Q&A session with economist Stefano Mallia at a conference on the state of Maltese economy. The conference was organized by the Malta Chamber of Commerce and the EMCS Group.

He added that it was upon the country to decide in which direction it wants to move in. He said that construction of metro was not possible with the current population level of the country.

“There would have to be a mix-and-match between an over-ground and underground system. And, to have everything in place, we will need around 25 years,” the PM was quoted as saying by Malta Today.

Muscat said that the government had taken the idea of building a metro seriously and had commissioned a report to assess the possibility. However, according to him, the report found that it was not possible to build an underground metro system in the island country at this point.

“This does not mean we should not carry the project out but the basic issue is not whether we have this alternative means of transport or not, but whether we agree if this country needs to grow or not. With the current levels of population, a means of mass transport would only be feasible in the Sliema area. And what sort of metro would it be if it merely linked Sliema to St Julian’s?” he added.

Responding to other questions, the PM also said that the government’s fearless attitude towards reforms was the reason behind Malta’s ‘spectacular’ economic growth. In addition, he also lauded the country’s performance in creating a more inclusive work environment for the women.

Apart from this, Muscat also spoke about the country’s plan to develop in innovation and R&D sector. The PM said that a national space strategy will also be launched soon.

He defended Malta and his government when asked about the allegations of Malta serving as a tax haven. “We are not a tax haven, and the European Commission confirmed this. The European Parliament grouped together a number of countries. It does not single-out Malta, and any country which offers financial services was attacked by this report,” he said, referring to the European Parliament report.