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[WATCH] Busuttil: ‘We don’t live in a normal country, but I will be your voice’

Simon Busuttil rips into police and Attorney General for inaction on corruption allegations against Keith Schembri, suggests Muscat is jealous of PN's pensions proposals

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
11 May 2017, 7:03pm
Last updated on 11 May 2017, 8:35pm
 

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil lambasted the police commissioner and the Attorney General for not taking criminal steps against the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri for corruption allegations, arguing that their inaction proves that “we are not living in a normal country”.

Busuttil will tomorrow morning appear in front of magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, who is leading a magisterial inquiry into reports that Schembri had accepted kickbacks from Nexia BT managing partner Brian Tonna from the sale of citizenship scheme.

“If we lived in a normal country, I wouldn’t have to appear in front of the magistrate myself,” he said in a speech at a political activity in Qormi. “If we lived in a normal country, the police commissioner and the Attorney General would have already ordered a criminal investigaton.

“If we lived in a normal country, Schembri would have already been arrested and prosectued and Joseph Muscat would have already resigned and left poltiics for good.”

He also had rare words of consolation to the Labour Party, which he said doesn’t deserve to be led by corrupt people.

“I don’t agree with Labour on a lot of things, but it did implement good measures in the past and it is part of this country’s history. It doesn’t deserve to be led by such corrupt people.”

To cheers from the crowd of “Simon, Simon”, Busuttil pledged to represent the people who have grown sick of government corruption: “I am here to defend you, I am here to give you a voice.”

‘Muscat is jealous of PN’s pensions proposals’

In his speech, Busuttil outlined the PN’s recent proposals to aid struggling pensioners, which he said prove he leads a “party for the people”.

He suggested that Muscat is jealous that he didn’t come out with the proposals and, in an attempt to use the Labour leader’s rhetoric against him, accused Muscat of being “negative”.

“Don’t be negative, Joseph. We are here coming up with so many positive proposals.”

The PN has pledged to increase the national minimum pension to the equivalent of the minimum wage – a proposal which will see the weekly income of some 18,000 pensioners increase from €147 to €169.

Moreover, all pensions will be exempted from income tax, the retirement pension for people who haven’t paid their full national contributions will increase to €155 a week, and the yearly allowance for pensioners who live in their own homes will increase to €500,

The pensions of former members of the Police Force, the Armed Forces of Malta, and Civil Department Officials and prison wardens will increase in line with the cost of living increase given each year. 

A PN government will also start gradually addressing the injustices in the services pensions according to the pensioners' age – a proposal costed at €22 million.
Pensioners over 80 years of age will instantly receive the full service pension and the full non-contributory pension. 

He insisted that the PN’s proposals are fully costed, and expressed his disbelief that Labour has come out so strongly against them.

“Why is Joseph Muscat against increasing pensions, when he found so much money to give to the owner of Café Premier, to Gaffarena and to Sadeen?”

‘Minimum wage rise was peanuts’

The speech was preceded by breech interventions by the PN’s candidates for the sixth district.

PN MP Clyde Puli delivered a rousing speech, in which he accused Labour of blatant hypocrisy on its pre-electoral promises of zero tolerance to corruption.

He recounted how Labour had kicked up a storm over a clock gifted to former PN minister Tonio Fenech.

“Yet, it found nothing wrong with the Panama Papers scandal, with giving Cyrus Engerer a well-paid job in Brussels after he was found guilty of revenge porn, with the Broadcasting Authority’s chairperson bullying her staff instead of taking action on PBS’ lies, and with the police commissioner eating rabbit while evidence was smuggled out of Pilatus Bank.”

It was also addressed by the Partit Demokratiku’s candidate Monique Agius, who focused on the recently announced increase in the minimum wage which she lambasted as “peanuts”.

“The Labour Party can no longer call itself a workers’ party, and indeed people are still working in precarious conditions,” she said. “Labour said that they’re going to give us back our public holidays [that fall on the weekend], but what the people really want is a decent minimum wage.”