PN leadership contenders have no vision for civil rights, environment, Abela hits back at rivals

Robert Abela says Nationalist Party leadership contenders lack ‘authenticity’, accuses Opposition of being concerned about its own survival

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech have no vision for civil rights and the environment, Robert Abela said in a dig at the Nationalist Party leadership contenders.

The Labour Party leader also accused the PN contenders of lacking “authenticity” during a phone-in interview on his party’s radio station, One Radio, on Sunday.

“Whoever is elected Nationalist leader is not our interest but they will be surrounded by the same people who believe in destruction if things do not go their way,” Abela said.

The Prime Minister insisted that while his government was working to safeguard people’s livelihoods and health, the PN was concerned with its own survival.

“These are the choices we have in the coming months,” Abela added cryptically.

The reference to the PN leadership race came at the tail end of a short interview during which Abela extolled his government’s actions in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that a decision that he took with his Cabinet more than two months ago to allocate €1 million to procure a COVID-19 vaccine has borne fruit with Malta in a position to acquire 330,000 vaccines when these become available.

The reference was to yesterday’s news announced by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne that Malta had been allocated the vaccines, putting the country at the forefront in protecting its front liners and vulnerable people.

Vaccine for all

Abela said this development showed how focussed the government was throughout the pandemic by taking decisions that prioritised health and safeguarded the economy.

“My target now is to go beyond the 330,000 vaccines but give all the population the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is out,” the Prime Minister said.

Referring to the most recent decisions to introduce controls on mass gatherings and bars, and stop discos and clubs, Abela said these were having the desired results as new infections had started to drop.

Malta had increased its testing rate for coronavirus at a time when infections were rising, which was part of the country’s strategy to find infected people and isolate them, he added.

“This is in line with our political disposition to be authentic, honest and transparent with people,” Abela said.

The Prime Minister said registered unemployment continued to drop in July and noted that the COVID wage supplement “will remain important in the coming period”.

Government has spent €170 million on wage supplements in industries hard hit by the pandemic, which have helped 81,000 workers.

Abela did not specify for how long the wage supplement will be kept in place.