Labour’s credibility problem

Labour speaks about creating new jobs in Gozo, but what it has done is simply expand the public sector in unprecedented and unsustainable ways, and in so doing draining resources from the private sector

As we approach a general election it is becoming abundantly clear that the battle ahead is not primarily one of ideas. It is essentially one of credibility.

This also explains why, contrary to Robert Abela who is keeping electoral pledges under wraps, Bernard Grech has no issue with socializing the Nationalist Party’s. As we keep saying, Labour is free to steal our proposals. If only it could also implement them.

We know what to expect in this final stretch until election day. Labour’s campaign will have one aim, that of blinding people with its bright lights and colorful confetti, hoping people go to the polls with the illusion that Labour has it under control. A 24/7 marketing blitz, paid by the multimillionaires whose fortune was made through corrupt allies in government, will be Labour’s effort to hypnotize as many people as possible.

But every now and then Labour ends up dropping a few pledges, as if to give us something to chew on. A few days ago, for example, Robert Abela was in Gozo and told us that the island will be allocated €50 million in European funds. All well and good. That’s what Labour wants Gozitans to know. What Gozitans need to remember, however, is that Labour has no credibility when it comes to managing EU money earmarked for Gozo. Enough to say that since Labour won government in 2013, it has not spent one single cent in European funds on road infrastructure in Gozo.

Unable to efficiently manage EU money, Labour has lost a total of €4 million that were supposed to fund the new Gozo Museum. It flushed down the drain another €2 million euro spent on six electric buses that were never even switched on. You can still see them, though, abandoned in Xaghra. That’s Labour’s strategic planning and efficient use of EU funds for Gozo.

It’s tricky for Labour to speak confidently about Gozo’s future without going beyond clichés. Take health care, something that tops Gozitans’ priority list of essential services. Having sold Gozo’s only hospital in one of the shadiest deals of Muscat’s corrupt government, Robert Abela cannot but ignore the subject. The Nationalist Party is not: a new 400-bed hospital completely owned by government, is at the heart of our plan for Gozo. And we want to make sure that Gozitan patients get the treatment they need in Gozo itself – from the full range of chemotherapy to MRI tests and more.

Addressing a rally on the eve of Independence Day, Robert Abela described himself as a European socialist. We’re now waiting for him to start putting some European values in practice, starting with the very basic: making sure workers get equal pay for equal work. It has become one of the most recurrent stories I keep hearing, that of workers being offered contracts that deny them of any security, with co-workers doing the same job but earning more. Unemployment rates can indeed be low, but the number of precarious workers, with unstable contracts and low wages, is rising each day.

Labour speaks about creating new jobs in Gozo, but what it has done is simply expand the public sector in unprecedented and unsustainable ways, and in so doing draining resources from the private sector.

This is what it will all boil down to: who has the credibility to allow the country to start a new chapter? The road ahead will not be easy. With the country greylisted by the international community, foreign investment on a downward trajectory, debt and deficit rising to alarming levels, and inflation pushing more of our families towards poverty line, the last thing this country needs is five more years of the same.

The Nationalist Party has always been called upon to fix Labour’s mess. And it will happen again. The choice for our electorate cannot be clearer: there is only way to shift gear and that is by having the Nationalist Party leading this country once again.