[WATCH] ‘Muscat has fallen to a new absurd and ridiculous low’ – Busuttil

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil said prime minister Joseph Muscat had fallen to new lows if he thought people would believe suggestions that Russia had planted a secret agent to undermine his re-election

Simon Busuttil addressing supporters in Lija
Simon Busuttil addressing supporters in Lija

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has fallen so low that it is ridiculous, absurd and – allow me – even arrogance to think that people would actually believe Russia was trying to undermine his re-election, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said tonight.

Busuttil, who was addressing a public meeting in his hometown of Lija, noted that the Russian embassy had issued a media release, categorically rejecting the recent allegations against Russia as absolutely unfounded and untrue.

Prime minister Joseph Muscat claimed on Wednesday that he had received reports from the security services of the US and UK – the CIA and MI6 – suggesting that news linking him to secret Panama company Egrant may have been planted by a Russian secret agent in retaliation to Malta’s decision not to refuel a Russian aircraft carrier while on its way to Syria.

Busuttil said that this latest story showed just how desperate Muscat was becoming.

The Labour Party election race in the fourth district – where Chris Fearne and Konrad Mizzi were both running - was further evidence of the party’s desperate measures to garber votes.

“Chris Fearne is sending his constituents a plastic bag cintaining some oranges,” he said. “Does he really think he can buy the people in the fourth district with some oranges? And Konrad Mizzi went one further and is sending the constituents a bottle of wine.”

Busuttil holding up a bag of oranges being distributed by Chris Fearne in the fourth district
Busuttil holding up a bag of oranges being distributed by Chris Fearne in the fourth district

Busuttil reiterated his vow to appoint a new police commissioner as soon as he became prime minister to investigate all cases of corruption, graft or money laundering and to ensur all guilty parties were brought to justice.

He said the party was also committed to creating 30,000 new quality jobs and to pay a lot of attention to sport, providing new facilities, schemes for athletes and a national campaign promoting sport activity.

“We intend to apply, and work hard to secure approval, to host the 2023 Small Nations Games, to be named the 2024 European City of Sport and to the host the 2025 Mediterranean Games,” Busuttil said.
He said that a new Forza Nazzjonali government would make sure Valletta is celebrated as it deserves in its twelve months as European Capital of Culture next year.

Busuttil singled out a number of election proposals presented by Forza Nazzjonali, including lowering to 10% the income tax on the first €50,000 profit of self-employed people and small businesses, and reducing the price of petrol and diesel by 5c per litre immediately upon election.

“Joseph Muscat, not happy to have denied you the reductions in prices you have deserved these past four years, he has now said he opposed our proposal,” Busuttil said. “And yet, only some months ago he called a press conference, with all the bells and whistles and all the theatrics he could think of, only to announce a 2c drop in the price of petrol and diesel.”

As to transport and traffic congestion on the roads, Busuttil said Forza Nazzjonali had proposed that students attending chruch and private schools be provided free transport, like those attending government schools, as a short-term solution to reducing the number of cars on the roads.

“In the meantime, we will be working on introducing a nationwide metro system in a revolutionary project that is long overdue for our country,” he said.

The Nationalist Party leader said the environment was possibly the most to suffer under this administration, and that this had started in the backroom deals the Muscat and those around him were negotiating even before the election.

PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami said that if the Labour Party thought the PN would be caught unawares if it called a snap election, the campaign – and the electoral manifesto launched on Wednesday – showed that the opposition was more than prepared, not only to deliver its message, but also to lead the country.

“We are sending a message to all cross-sections of society that we are ready to work hand in hand with them all,” he said. “Four years ago, you entrusted me and my fellow officers to rebuild our party and lead it to this election and we are here today with a winning party at what is the last stretch separating us from changing the direction the country was heading in.”