[WATCH] ‘I was jealous that Labour had a man like Godfrey within its ranks’ – Simon Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says that he had admired former Labour minister and whip Godfrey Farrugia from afar after getting to know the man behind the public persona

PN leader Simon Busuttil addressing party faithful outside the party headquarters in Pieta'
PN leader Simon Busuttil addressing party faithful outside the party headquarters in Pieta'

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil admitted tonight that after getting to know then health minister for the Labour government Godfrey Farrugia, he had become jealous that the Labour Party had within its ranks such a valuable and decent person.

Busuttil, who was addressing party supporters at a public meeting outside the PN headquarters in Pieta’, said that Farrugia, who resigned from the PL and joined the Democratic Party days before the election was called, was a man no one could find any fault with.

And in reference to Farrugia’s speech before his, Busuttil noted that the former Labour whip had confirmed that the Gozo general hospital regeneration project was supposed to have been funded by EU funds.

“Isn’t it strange that in 2014 Joseph Muscat replaced Godfrey as health minister by none other than Konrad Mizzi, who then went on to oversee the privatisation of the Gozo hospital and two other hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare?” he asked.

“In a debate with Muscat on Xarabank last night I asked him, in fact, if by any chance Vitals Global Healthcare too held an account at Pilatus Bank, and everyone could see how the prime minister reacted to my question.”

Busuttil said it would be too much of a coincidence if VGH too held accounts at the bank at the centre of allegations of kickback and money laundering made against the prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri. He encouraged journalists to continue to investigate this possibility.

“After The Malta Independent revealed that Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri received kickbacks from the purchase of the LNG tanker berthed at the power station in Delimnara, it is now no wonder that the Labour government insisted so much on seeing the project through.”

On a statement issued by the FIAU earlier in the day – denying the existence of a conclusive report – Busuttil said the authority had actually confirmed that there was indeed a 120-page report on Mizzi and Schembri receiving kickbacks.

Busuttil said a new government led by him would immediately launch an investigation into the contract for the power station at Delimara, another project ramrodded by Mizzi.

“I have also pledged to buy electricity from the cheapest source and that means that, if necessary, we will buy the electricity through the interconnector,” he said. “And if Joseph Muscat bound himself to buy electricity from elsewhere, whatever the cost, then that is his responsibility.”

The opposition leader said that two of the most noteworthy measures proposed by Forza Nazzjonali included the pledge to remove the inheritance tax, which could cost the government up to €18 million, but which – he said – was worth it, rather than having people being faced with a tax bill just after losing their parents.

“The second measure of note is our promise to distribute funds to voluntary organisations carrying out invaluable work in our society,” Busuttil said.

He said that the government would use 0.5% of all income tax collected - around €6.5 million out of €1.3 billion collected each year – and distributed the money among the voluntary organisations.

”But the beneficiaries will be chosen by the people, who will be able to indicate on their tax return form the voluntary organisation they would prefer receive their share,” he said. “This is another measure that empowers people, and that is the type of politics I embrace.”

Busuttil also announced that a 2000-piece mosaic illustrating the Nationalist Party’s emblem and hymn had been completed, bringing in €1 million in donations after each piece sold for €500.

Godfrey Farrugia: “I still believe in the oath I took”

Democratic Party candidate Godfrey Farrugia said that he had taken an oath to serve the interests of the country and that he still believed in that oath and would continue to work towards that sentiment.

“I hold on to a hope that together we can lead and succeed, that politics that safeguards the interests of the citizen can be successful,” he said. “I am here because I believe in politics that serves the people and that is the reason why I choose Malta,” he said.

Godfrey Farrugia resigned from the Labour Party and is contesting the election with the Democratic Party
Godfrey Farrugia resigned from the Labour Party and is contesting the election with the Democratic Party

The former Labour Party whip said that the Labour government had promised to bring good governance to local politics.

“But in Mqabba, the Labour leader acknowledged that he kept around him people who had acted inappropriately but kept them on because he needed them,” Farrugia said.

“On 3 June, we have to choose between a prime minister who washed his hands of the behaviour of the people around him and – on the other hand – the Forza Nazzjonali that will serve all Maltese and Gozitans.”

Farrugia said that the Gozo general hospital, now privatised under Vitals Glboal Healthcare, was a case in point of the Labour administration looking after the interest of investors.

The manifesto of the Forza Nazzjonali made it clear this hospital would return to belong to the people.

“Since August 2013, I had envisioned bringing the Gozo hospital up to five-star standard, by linking it to the Barts medical school, which we support and embrace,” he said. “But the plan was to use EU funds for the Gozo hospital, not private investors.”

Farrugia told all professionals in private public partnership at the Gozo hopspital that Forza Nazzjonali welcomed and contributed their contribution and would continue to do so as the hospital complemented Mater Dei Hospital.