[WATCH] ‘Muscat cannot fire Schembri, Gozo tunnel is my dream’ – Busuttil

Simon Busuttil says Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri are 'joined at the hip', claims PN government will turn Gozo tunnel 'dream' into reality

Simon Busuttil displays the PN's proposals for Gozo at a political activity in Ghajnsielem
Simon Busuttil displays the PN's proposals for Gozo at a political activity in Ghajnsielem


PN leader Simon Busuttil claimed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is unable to remove his chief of staff Keith Schembri, arguing that the two are joined at the hip.

Muscat has pledged that Schembri will resign if an ongoing magisterial inquiry finds grounds for criminal action to be taken against him over reports that he had taken kickbacks from the sale of citizenship scheme.

However, at a political activity in Ghajnsielem, Busuttil argued that Muscat can never remove his chief of staff because the two are “one and the same”.

“If one of them goes then the other one will have to go too, and if one of them stays on then the other one will have to stay on too,” he said. “Besides, Muscat should have fired Schembri a year ago, when he – along with minister Konrad Mizzi – was exposed in the Panama Papers scandal.

“It was so obvious to everyone that Muscat had to fire them, that the mere fact that he retained them was in itself a clear sign that he couldn’t remove them because he too has something to hide.”

He quipped that Muscat’s recent statement that Schembri “has his trust” could have a double meaning.

Simon Busuttil and his partner Kristina Chetcuti at a PN political activity in Ghajnsielem
Simon Busuttil and his partner Kristina Chetcuti at a PN political activity in Ghajnsielem

‘PN will turn Gozo tunnel dream into reality’

The bulk of the PN leader’s speech was focused on outlining some of the 100 proposals included the PN’s manifesto for Gozo that he launched in Ghajnsielem earlier today.

The proposal includes a pledge to consturct a tunnel between Malta and Gozo as quickly as possible, a project that Busuttil described as his “personal dream”.

He confidently claimed that a PN government will be able to turn this dream into reality and urged Maltese citizens to view it as a national project, rather than simply one for Gozitans.

He dismissed warnings that a permanent link to Malta will ruin Gozo’s identity, arguing instead that it will actually strengthen its identity.

“Gozo is becoming a place for people to retire in, but we believe it is too beautiful for its population to keep shrinking,” he said. “We want Gozo’s population to start growing again, and it can do so thanks to a permanent link.”

Busuttil said he sympathises with Gozitans who spend hours commuting between the two islands on a daily basis.

“How lovely it will be if you could just wake up in Gozo and drive to Malta, without having to wake up three hours early and spend time waiting for the ferry to arrive.”

He lambasted the Labour government for its failure to construct projects of note in Gozo and mocked it for recently inviting Gozitan NGOs and associations to a Congress organised

“It’s about time they woke up from their deep sleep, but it’s too late now,” he said. “These people are supposed to be in government with all the country’s resources at their dispoal and they’re only going to start consulting now. In contrast, the PN has already published its electoral manifesto for Gozo. We are giving of an example in Opposition, let alone in government.”

Gozo Tourism Association secretary hails Gozo manifesto

The political activity was also addressed by Gozo Tourism Association secretary Mark Busuttil, who hailed the PN’s Gozo manifesto.

In particular, he welcomed the proposal for Gozo to be granted regional status that will allow it to tap into €250 million in EU funds.

He also welcomed the PN’s commitment to construct a tunnel between Malta and Gozo and to set up a fast ferry service within the two islands.

“The Gozo Channel has provided us a good service over the years, but the time has come to look beyond it,” he said.

Lawyer Nadia Vella hailed the PN’s pledges to provide universal free childcare, to increase children’s allowance, increase maternity leave, and introduce paternity leave.

She also welcomed the PN’s pledge to re-nationalise the Gozo Hospital, noting that the government’s contract with Vitals has been shrouded in secrecy.

The political activity was also briefly addressed by engineer Simon Mizzi, who was commissioned by the PN to draft its Gozo manifesto.

“I urge you to take a copy of this manifesto home with you and read it, because it outlines the best vision for Gozo’s future,” he said.