[WATCH] Marlene Farrugia not for sale, Busuttil insists

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil ridicules 'suggestions' that Russian president Vladimir Putin could be concerned about the outcome of the Maltese election so much as to plant undercover agents to undermine prime minister Joseph Muscat

PN leader Simon Busuttil insisted Marlene Farrugia was a woman of principles. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
PN leader Simon Busuttil insisted Marlene Farrugia was a woman of principles. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday

The leader of the Democratic Party was not for sale but was a woman of principles who had not sought anything in advance when agreeing to join the Nationalist Party in the Forza Nazzjonali, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said this morning. 

"If Marlene Farrugia had asked for anything, or to be appointed minister if we won, I would not have even accepted to run under one ticket," he said. 

Busuttil insisted that the electoral manifesto was drawn up jointly by the PN and the PD and both parties' leaders had in fact committed to seeing the measures through. 

"I count on her integrity and know that as I am committing myself to this manifesto, so has she," he said. 

The PN leader revealed that a document was to be published later on today providing more details on the €2.3 billion metro project being proposed by Forza Nazzjonali. 

He said that transport was of major concern to the Nationalist Party and the Democratic Party, which was also why they had also proposed other short-term measures such as providing free transport for all church and independent schools as well as government schools. 

PD leader Marlene Farrugia said that she was proud to stand next to Busuttil. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
PD leader Marlene Farrugia said that she was proud to stand next to Busuttil. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday

Busuttil called on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to stop running away from the media and to face questioning so that the public will be able to determine which party is presenting the best option ahead of the election. 

He said the electorate should be able to choose who had the best credentials to succeed in restoring Malta's reputation. 

Busuttil said that it was unfortunate that Muscat was running away even from press conferences organised by the Broadcasting Authority. 

"I have the credibility at European and international level to be taken seriously if I appear before them and say the Maltese people have voted to change the country's course and start rebuilding the country's reputation again," he said. 

Busuttil reiterated his criticisim to claims made yesterday by Muscat who said that foreign allies' security services had warned Malta that a Russian whistleblower who claimed to have seen proof that secret Panama company Egrant belonged to Muscat or his wife, was in fact planted by the Russian security service. 

This was allegedly done to seek revenge against Muscat for not allowing a Russian aircraft carrier to refuel in Malta on the way to Syria and for, under the presidency of the EU, expediting the process to waive visas for travel between Ukraine and the EU. 

"I don't think Vladimir Putin would waste a lot of time scheming on how to affect the Maltese election," Busuttil said. "I think Muscat should be more humble and cautious when making such claims."

Busuttil said that since becoming leader of the Nationalist Party, his main aim was to bring the party close to the people once again. 

"I am proud that people once again recognise the PN as the party of the people," he said. "We also took upon ourselves the mission to clean politics, once and for all."

Busuttil said it took some humility to acknowledge that the PN could not bring this change about alone and that was how the Forza Nazzjonali was born.

"This Forza Nazzjonali, which sees us join forces with the Democratic Party, is not an election fad but I promise that, if the country elects is to government, we will lead as Forza Nazzjonali."

On the electoral manifesto presented on Wednesday evening, Busuttil said it included 521 proposals spread across the three programmes for Malta, Gozo and youths. 

He listed what he considers the top ten proposals:

1. Clearing the country's name and reputation

2. Creating 30,000 new meaningful jobs

3. Lowering income tax to 10% on the first €50,000 profit for self-employed and small businesses

4. Lowering income tax to 10% for workers who earn up to €20,000

5. Keep Zonqor clear of development and transform White Rocks into a family park

6. Alternative transport system in an above- and below-ground metro system

7. Immediately lower the price of petrol and diesel by 5c/litre and keep price below EU average

8. Free childcare for all

9. Free medicine for pensioners and disabled persons

10. Raise in pensions to improve standard of living of all pensioners

Democratic Party leader Marlene Farrugia said that despite the hard and honest work of herself, her partner Godfrey and others in the Labour Party, the Labour administration had betrayed its ideals and values. 

"We have now found the Forza Nazzjonali as the perfect medium to carry our message for an accountable government that truly puts the interest of the country first," she said. 

Farrugia said that she was proud to stand next to Busuttil as the coalition presented the structure the country needed at this time. 

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