PN: Cheque handout a 'smokescreen' for Abela's €17,000 Planning Authority direct order

PN says the rising cost-of-living is a reality and that the €1.75 a week COLA increase does not suffice

From left to right: PN candidate Darren Carabott (left), PN Chief Spokesperson Peter Agius (middle) and Rebecca Cilia (right)
From left to right: PN candidate Darren Carabott (left), PN Chief Spokesperson Peter Agius (middle) and Rebecca Cilia (right)

Chief PN Spokesperson Peter Agius said Prime Minister Robert Abela’s press conference on Thursday on distribution of cheques, was a deviation from news concerning the lush contract his firm had with the Planning Authority.

“The measures announced by Abela today, were already announced in the budget last November. This is nothing but a smokescreen to cover actual news on Abela's PA contract and that Joseph Muscat, was given an office in Sa Maison,” Agius said in a press conference on Thursday.

On Thursday, Abela confirmed former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had been handed an office in Sa Maison, as part of the severance package after his resignation.

Agius said statistics by the National Statistics Office show the rise in wages was not enough to compensate for the rising cost-of-living.

“Abela gets a €17,000 a month to work on weekends, while you get €1.75 a week. We believe we have to take the right measures to address the rising cost-of-living,” Agius said.

When questioned about the PN's position on the direct order, Agius said the PN’s position is that they should be only used in exceptional circumstances.

"Instead of using direct orders in rare occasions, the government used it to grant Vitals the concession of three hospitals, an maliciously to award Electrogas the contract for the new power station. Public funds are financed through taxes and this needs to be utilised well,” Agius said.

PN candidate Rebecca Cilia said inflation is a reality and that the €1.75 a week COLA increase is negligent.

“Wages have remained stagnant and these should be increased. Government should help those that can’t make ends meet but instead is only helping those close to the party,” Cilia said.

She said Abela is cut off from reality and that he could not understand those that are struggling with the rising prices. “PN speaks of solutions. We are proposing a living wage, a refund of theft from utility bills and a €40 million fund to compensate for increasing transport costs. We want you to lead a comfortable life. ”

Candidate Darren Carabott spoke of issues within the Education sector and said the conditions of educators should improve.

“On the other hand, the former Education Minister Justyne Caruana found €15,000 to dish out to her partner. PN has a great track record in the education sector and we are proposing better conditions,” Carabott said.

He mentioned the greylisting from the FATF and said this is affecting everyone, including pensioners who can’t handle their finances as they used to, since banks introduced stricter rules.

'PN adopting negative politics of the past' - PL

In a statement, the Labour party said the PN is attacking an economic stimulation package and adopting the "negative politics of the past". 

It said PN is not credible and mentioned how in government, they increased utility bills and only gave five bulbs to families.

"Today government kept energy prices stable and continued investing in people. The difference in leadership has never been as clear as it is today," PL said.