‘He’s detached from reality’: Bernard Grech says Robert Abela only concerned with election

Grech accuses the Prime Minister of being out-of-touch and not pro-business enough, while describing new vaccine rules as an 'inquisition on human rights'

Photo: Partit Nazzjonalista
Photo: Partit Nazzjonalista

The election is all the Prime Minister cares about, Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech said on Sunday, while noting his counterpart’s poor poll results in a new MaltaToday survey. 

During an interview on PN-owned NetTV, Grech accused Prime Minister Robert Abela of being out-of-touch with the public, after Abela said there were no instances of bad governance during his two-year tenure. 

“The reality is different, and people understand this. People are angry - they’re realising that the Prime Minister and his government is fake, and these politicians are only in politics for their own benefit.” 

Grech pointed to a new MaltaToday survey to back up his argument. The survey indicates that Abela suffered a four-point decline in trust ratings over the past two months, although the Prime Minister is still ahead by 21.3 points. 

“I always say the same thing about surveys: they’re a snapshot of a particular period. It’s not gospel, but we shouldn’t ignore it,” he said. 

The PN leader admitted his party is the underdog for the upcoming election, but noted that the survey reflects a changing opinion on Abela.  

“We understand we’re the underdogs, but we’re sure our work will bear fruit.” 

He added that the PN faces an upward struggle compared to the Labour Party, the latter benefitting from power of incumbency and access to government coffers. 

‘PM only focused on election’ 

On Saturday, Robert Abela accused the Nationalist Party of using a package of anti-corruption Bills as an ‘electoral gimmick’ to win votes quick. 

“This confirms that the election is all he’s thinking about,” Grech said of the comments. 

He added that the bills saw great reception from most quarters, the only exception being the Prime Minister.  

Grech also accused Abela’s government of not being pro-business enough. “If Joseph Muscat did anything good, he opened the doors for businesses to operate freely. Robert Abela is the antithesis to this.” 

Grech spoke about the wage supplement, reminding the public that it was the Nationalist Party who advised government two months ago that the support scheme should have been extended to March 2022. 

“Just yesterday, Abela said the wage supplement will be extended to February,” he remarked. “Everyone knows this is the way forward.” 

The conversation moved to Air Malta, after the finance minister announced on Friday that the public sector will absorb 400 workers laid off by the airline

Grech acknowledged this, but remarked on the Labour Party's handling of Air Malta’s operations over the years. 

“The finance minister said that no matter how much money you throw at Air Malta, it acts like a fireplace. It just burns through it. This is how government ministers see our national airline.” 

He spoke about rising costs of living and mentioned a recent proposal put forward by the PN to for a fund that importers can tap into to alleviate importing costs. 

“It’s an international problem, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a solution.” 

Vaccine rules ‘an inquisition on human rights’ 

Grech briefly spoke about COVID-19 and the ongoing booster vaccination drive. He reiterated that the party believes in the vaccine as a way out from the pandemic, but said that doubts over the vaccine should not be dismissed. 

“I believe in the vaccine, but that doesn’t mean I should restrain the rights of others. I encourage people to take the vaccine, but let’s keep in mind that there are some people who can’t take the vaccine.” 

He said the party will speak for those who are sceptical about the vaccine programme, while still encouraging people to take the jab. 

As from 17 January, new rules will prohibit unvaccinated people from visiting restaurants, bars, and każini.  

On this, Bernard Grech said the party will speak out on behalf of those affected by the mandate. 

“We are speaking for these people because they have rights too, but we don’t want to send the message that the vaccine isn’t effective.”