Robert Abela on Justyne Caruana resignation: 'It hurts, even on a personal level'

Prime Minister Robert Abela says Justyne Caruana's and Silvio Grixti's resignations hurt on a personal level • Calls on people to take COVID vaccine booster 

Prime Minister Robert Abela on One Radio (Photo: PL)
Prime Minister Robert Abela on One Radio (Photo: PL)

Resignations from political office hurt on a personal level, Prime Minister Robert Abela said in an interview on Thursday morning on One Radio, as he reflected on Labour's turbulent week.

On the resignations of Education Minister Justyne Caruana and Labour MP Silvio Grixti, and the decision of MP Ian Castaldi Paris not to contest the next general election, Abela said, “since January 2020 the country is held to higher standards”.

“It hurts, even on a personal level […] This country however deserves higher standards and this government does not shy away from difficult decisions,” he said.

The PM compared the Castaldi Paris case, with that of Opposition leader Bernard Grech, both implicated in cases involving unpaid tax arrears. “Bernard Grech only paid his taxes, when he decided to contest the PN leadership.”

He also compared the Silvio Grixti case with that of Stephen Spiteri, both investigated for fake medical certificates. “Even in this (Stephen Spiteri) case, no action was taken by the Opposition, all remained business as usual and he will contest the next general election.”

Abela stated that those in public life that make mistakes, have to assume responsibility for their actions.

He also addressed the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases and spoke about new restrictions to be announced later in the day. “In recent months, people experienced a dose of normality and that Is why we continuously appeal for the vaccine and booster dose uptake. The principal tool is the vaccine and in the current moment, also certain restriction measures,” Abela stated.

He mentioned how certain restrictions will be announced, aimed at “sustaining the relevance of the vaccine and the booster”.

Abela revealed that Malta registered a rise in cases on Thursday but added that hospitalisations have remained stable. “The health authorities insisted that the new criteria are the rate of admissions and of those requiring care at the ITU,” Abela said.

The PM spoke about positive economic forecasts by international credit agencies and the low rate of unemployment. He credited the €760 million in wage supplement and aid to businesses by the Malta Enterprise for this “success”.

He said that the wage supplement scheme has been extended till the end of January and closer to this date, a decision will be taken as to whether the scheme will be extended.

PM leaving Education sector in limbo

In a reaction, PN said Abela left the educators, students and parents in limbo, since the Education sector missing a minister. It also remarked that the PM did not take any action against the public officials that allowed the "abuse" to go on, by former minister Justyne Caruana.

"Robert Abela is treating people like fools when he says that he has a solid, united and competent team […] They are so united that he has a deputy that will take action against the Government for a law introduced by the Labour Government, which she voted for," PN said.

It also made reference to Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, that it said was in cahoots with alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia mastermind Yorgen Fenech and is not in a position to implement the recommendations of the public inquiry.

“This is the reason why the United States took measures against the Maltese state, for not taking action against Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi,” PN concluded.