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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

In politics, never shoot down

The fact that Joseph Muscat feels the need to attack Simon Busuttil, instead of focusing on the economy, tells us something about Muscat’s own confidence, or lack thereof

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
28 October 2015, 8:04am
If Busuttil was truly weak, Muscat wouldn’t need to resort to the personal attacks as he did in his Budget speech
If Busuttil was truly weak, Muscat wouldn’t need to resort to the personal attacks as he did in his Budget speech
History has a habit of repeating itself. Dom Mintoff’s Labour underestimated Eddie Fenech Adami. In 1996, the Nationalist Party underestimated Alfred Sant and Joseph Muscat in 2008. Muscat’s Labour is now underestimating Simon Busuttil. 

With the economy doing well, one would have expected the Prime Minister to brag about his government’s achievements and lay out his vision for a better and more competitive Malta, in his reply to Simon Busuttil’s speech in Parliament last Tuesday. Instead, he spent two hours trying to belittle Simon Busuttil. Muscat even likened Busuttil to a school-boy who should “take notes” and advised him to “learn to read and count first”.

That is downright arrogant. 

The fact that Joseph Muscat feels the need to attack Simon Busuttil, instead of focusing on the economy, tells us something about Muscat’s own confidence, or lack thereof. Pre-2013, Muscat, confident that he will win with an outright majority, rarely, if ever, attacked Lawrence Gonzi personally.

That has changed now. Muscat seems obsessed with his rival. If Busuttil was truly weak and not fit for the job – as the Prime Minister wants us to believe, Muscat wouldn’t need to resort to the personal attacks as he did in his budget speech. His colleagues took to heckling Busuttil, too with shouts of “go hide yourself”. 

Perhaps the Prime Minister should take the advice of former US President Richard Nixon, “in politics, never shoot down”. Muscat’s bullying tactics, in dealing with his political counterpart, may backfire and the Prime Minister will have only himself to blame.

Positive measures

It is no surprise that Budget 2016 was welcomed by trade unions and employers associations. Government announced quite a few initiatives which shall most definitely increase taxpayers spending power and help families, and individuals on a low income. In another bold move, government announced plans to tax vacant property.

However, government’s refusal to lower fuel prices, even though the price of oil is at an all-time low, is an insult to tax payers. Edward Scicluna is afraid that lowering fuel prices would result in further traffic on our roads. That’s a lame excuse and absolute nonsense. On the bright side, government did announce a couple of initiatives to tackle Malta’s traffic crisis. 

Diversity education

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo seems to have backtracked on plans to distribute children’s book donated by the gay rights lobby, MGRM. There was a backlash from ‘concerned parents’. The organisers of the campaign, led by people steeped in prejudice and lack of knowledge, said that there is a “broader agenda to indoctrinate children into becoming gay or transgender.”

That is, if course, absolute nonsense. However, government and the gay rights lobby are partly to blame. Those books should have been distributed only after a proper information campaign and after the Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students Policy has been launched. Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli said that “diversity education remains necessary”, and that “parents will in time understand that we cannot allow students to suffer from bullying or discrimination because of some characteristic that they have.”

She’s right, of course. I hope that this is a matter of time. 

€600,000 a day

Government figures issued just after the Prime Minister claimed in Parliament that government debt is down show that from March 2013 to last June, government debt increased by another €490 million. Government has been borrowing €600,000 a day while enjoying the interconnector and other capital projects laid down by the previous government, a benign international economic atmosphere and the new industries brought to Malta by the previous government. This was a time to pay down the debt, not to increase it by €490 million, apart from hundreds of millions extra in state guarantees.

‘Labour’s circle of friends’

That the number of government employees has increased is an undisputed fact. Government is saying that the majority of extra hands went into the health and education sector. The Opposition is convinced that the majority of additional jobs went to’ Labour’s circle of friends’.

Replies given in Parliament seem to support the theory that hundreds of jobs were created by the Labour government to satisfy the pent-up demand for cushy government jobs. Irrespective of which party you chose to believe, the bottom line is that the public sector wage bill sky-rocketed by €200 million in the first half of this legislature. The public, who pays for these salaries, is not being served better by this additional expenditure.

The traffic situation got worse. The residents of Sliema, Pembroke, St Julian’s and St Paul’s Bay are still not feeling safe at home. Scandals are still cropping up in different departments. So residents are rightly starting to ask: what is the value added of all these jobs?

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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