[WATCH] General election date will not be determined by future PN leader, PM says

Prime Minister Robert Abela says outcome of Nationalist Party’s leadership race will not determine when the next General Election will be called

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela
Il-Prim Ministru u Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista, Robert Abela intervistat minn Prof. Andrew Azzopardi

Il-Prim Ministru u Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista, Robert Abela intervistat minn Prof. Andrew Azzopardi

Posted by Partit Laburista on Sunday, 6 September 2020

Prime Minister Robert Abela has said that the date of the coming general election will not be determined by the outcome of the Nationalist Party’s leadership race.

Abela was interviewed by University Dean Andrew Azzopardi on the Labour Party television station ONE TV.

A MaltaToday survey showed that candidate Bernard Grech could have the trust gap with Abela should he become PN leader.

The trust barometer shows that Grech could receive a score of 32.1% against Abela’s 51.7%, a gap of almost 20 points.

“The decision to call a general election will come at a time when the country needs it,” Abela said.

He also pointed out the lack of authenticity in both leadership candidates.

“The lack of authenticity of both candidates is worrying. It is not right for the country,” he said.

Abela was referring to a MaltaToday report which showed the Grech has twice been called up the Inland Revenue Authority to settle years of unpaid income tax and VAT.

Court records show Grech was asked in 2006 to settle a hefty bill for unpaid taxes between 1990 and 1996 and then against in 2012 for the years 1999 to 2019.

“Why do you go for such an important post when you cannot handle your own personal affairs?” he questioned.

Joseph Muscat not a political liability

On former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Abela played down questioning on whether he is a political liability to the government and Labour Party.

Asked whether he would be asking Muscat to resign from his post as MP, Abela said there are no reasons for such a decision to be taken just yet.

“When and if the time comes to take difficult decisions, I will take them.”

“When I submitted my candidacy for Labour leader, I never made promises with anyone, because I knew that the time for strong decisions to be taken would come,” he said.

He also made it clear that he is not and would not be interfering in the court’s and police’s work.

Questioned on the lack of investigation and prosecution against former PM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, Abela said such questioning must be directed to the competent person in charge - the police commissioner.

“I am not competent in answering questions on the investigation,” Abela said.

He also pointed out that during new police commissioner Angelo Gafá’s tenure, the police has been more efficient in updating the media and the people on ongoing investigations.

Economy post COVID-19  

On the economic risks the country might be facing following COVID-19, Abela said the careful thinking of the previous administration has been crucial in Malta surviving the pandemic with limited damage to its economy.

“Yes, we will be going into a deficit, but the statistics show that the impact on our business and families will be limited.

Speaking on migration, the PM said that he will continue to listed to the pleas of people living in Marsa, Hamrun and other migration-stricken areas.

“While I understand the humanitarian aspect of migration, I have to understand the interests of the Maltese. The Maersk Etienne situation is not Malta’s responsibility,” he insisted.

“It ships under a Danish flag and was not in our SAR area, why should Malta bear the brunt?” he said.