Tables turn as PN compares Abela retainer to COLA increase

A tactic from the Labour Party playbook: PN compares Abela’s €17,000 monthly retainer to €1.75 COLA increase

PN hammers home message that Robert Abela is a 'detached rich guy'
PN hammers home message that Robert Abela is a 'detached rich guy'

The election billboard season appears to have kicked off with the Nationalist Party calling out Robert Abela for being ‘out of touch’ with the people.

Taking a leaf from the Labour Party’s playbook before 2013, the PN drew first blood by calling out Abela after his family-owned law firm benefitted from a €17,000 per month government retainer stretching back years.

The retainer, which had originally been awarded by a Nationalist administration, was with the Planning Authority and it stopped when Abela became prime minister in January 2020. The retainer increased substantially after Labour came to power in 2013.

READ ALSO: Abela Dynasty - PA contract gifted by Nationalists and Labour alike

The PN is comparing Abela’s €17,000 monthly retainer to the €1.75 COLA increase announced in the last Budget.

The billboard harkens to the Labour Party’s tactics while in Opposition after 2008, where the party compared a €500 weekly raise for ministers in Lawrence Gonzi’s cabinet to the €1.16 cost of living.

MaltaToday broke the story in November 2008. Lawrence Gonzi had just given his ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and himself, a lavish pay rise of over 40% in a decision taken after the election that same year.

The decision, unannounced by government that year, would have costed an extra €224,490 a year, with all ministers and parliamentary secretaries getting a yearly increase of €14,966.

It eventually became a thorn in the Gonzi administration’s side until government reversed the decision and asked ministers to refund the increase.

The latest PN billboard attempts to capitalise on simmering discontent over rising prices that are eroding family incomes. It follows on the message that Bernard Grech delivered in a rally on the eve of Independence Day last September in which he portrayed Abela as a detached rich guy who had an easy life and is unable to understand what ordinary people feel.

READ ALSO: Bernard Grech pitches for change as he brands Abela a detached rich man