Grech accuses President of rendering parliament ineffective by allowing stand-in to sign IVF law

Opposition leader Bernard Grech says President George Vella had every right to have moral objections but his choice was to resign and not pass the buck to the acting president

PN leader Bernard Grech
PN leader Bernard Grech

President George Vella’s decision to let his stand-in, Frank Bezzina, sign into law the IVF reform, rendered parliament ineffective, Bernard Grech said on Thursday.

The Opposition leader was referring to Vella’s reluctance to sign the law approved by parliament that makes provisions for preimplantation genetic testing on embryos for inheritable diseases.

Parliament approved the law on 6 July but it was only this week that this process was completed when the acting president signed on the legislation after Vella flew off to Birmingham.

Vella, who had in the past dubbed Labour’s regularisation of embryo freezing “a complete travesty of morality”, had insisted with the press that “the law will be signed” but refused to state whether he would personally assent to the law.

“The Constitution says that the president is there to sign the laws passed by parliament. Through his actions, the President rendered parliament ineffective, at least for a short time,” Grech said when interviewed on the party’s radio station NET FM by journalist Dione Borg.

“It was his duty to sign it. He has all the right to have issues, including moral ones, to sign laws but his choice was to resign, and not to let his substitute step in for him. This was all just a game, as ultimately it was the presidency of George Vella that signed the law.” 

The PN initially had misgivings about embryo genetic testing but eventually voted in favour of the law. However, MPs Adrian Delia, Alex Borg and Ivan Bartolo broke ranks with the party and voted against with Carm Mifsud Bonnici, who was absent due to sickness, making it a point to say that he would have voted against.

Cross-party solutions for transport

Grech acknowledged that the Labour government has overseen “beautiful” and “helpful” road projects but slammed it for “not planning things through”. 

He said that due to the lack of planning, the government spent millions but is not reaping the full benefits of these projects.

“We have completed various road projects, through which traffic flows easily but congestions are being caused elsewhere. This means that the road widening was ineffective on its own,” Grech said. 

He said that government should incentivise people to ditch cars, by providing alternative means of transport and safe lanes for bikes and electric bikes. 

“We need cross-party decisions on traffic and transport. We have to agree on a long-term plan of 10-30 years that keeps the government of the day on track and in check,” Grech said. 

“Everyone has to understand that traffic affects everyone. It affects the efficiency of the country, the physical and the mental health of the Maltese and the economy of the country.”

Abela insensitive to inflationary pressures

Grech accused the Prime Minister of insensitivity towards ordinary people by gloating that Malta’s inflation is the lowest in the EU.

The Nationalist Party leader said that when energy and fuel, which are being heavily subsidised by government, are excluded from the equation Malta’s inflation was above the EU average.

“Food inflation is high and this is hurting people, especially the elderly… the Prime Minister is satisfied that Malta’s inflation is lowest in the EU but he does so possibly because inflation does not impact him,” Grech said.

“Robert Abela has to address people’s problems and not rest on the fact that statistics show Malta has the lowest EU inflation… a week before the election government sent people cheques, will he be sending cheques now?”

Grech called for diligent public spending that addressed ordinary people’s problems. “Robert Abela is being a miser with ordinary people but not with his own friends.”