Updated | 'Busuttil should ask his MPs to return €500 increase' - government

PN secretary-general says Prime Minister contradicted himself over claims that former PN ministers failed to refund honoraria payments

Chris Said - Photo: Ray Attard
Chris Said - Photo: Ray Attard

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat contradicted himself after claiming that former PN ministers had failed to refund their honoraria payments as promised, PN secretary-general Chris Said said.

Yesterday, Muscat claimed that former PN ministers had only refunded €300,000 out of the €1.6 million they promised to refund in 2012, however Said said that the Prime Minister himself had said that all refunds had been paid when appearing on Dissett a few days after the 2013 general election.

"A few days after being elected Prime Minister, Muscat himself had said that he was informed by his permanent secretary that all the refunds had been paid," Said said, adding that this was only the latest in a long series of lies by Muscat.

But in a reaction, the government said that a parliamentary question tabled in May 2013 confirmed that the former Nationalist cabinet members had returned €299,566.13. The total increase in salaries taken between 2008 and 2010 was of €1,331,318.45 while between January and January 2012 the increase totaled €355,558.83.

“Eight Opposition MPs, formerly Cabinet members, pocketed a total increase of €1,600,000 from taxpayers’ money. They only returned €300,000, retaining €1,300,000. Despite Said’s claims that all refunds had been paid, this is not true. The only excuse he could come up with was that the Prime Minister, during his first days in government, said these had been paid.

“Like the PM said yesterday in parliament, this was the deceiving impression the PN had given.”

The government accused Simon Busuttil of dishonesty who in February 2013 said that the refunds had been paid.

“Busuttil was dishonest and, if he wants to be credible when talking about moral authority, he should ask his MPs to return the pay rise which they had so scandalously awarded themselves,” the government said.

Addressing a press conference to announce the PN’s general council themed “Honest Politics,” Said said the Labour government has betrayed its promises of meritocracy, accountability and good governance.

This week the Nationalist Party will be holding a general council to approve a policy document on the need of honesty in politics.

Underlining recent events which he claimed exposed government's lack of honesty, PN secretary-general Chris Said said politicians should serve the country's interests and not their own.

"The country needs a new style of politics which caters for the needs of the people and not politicians," he said.

He added that the PN is committed to defend and strengthen the independence of the country's institutions.

Asked whether the general council will put forward concrete plans to guarantee transparency and meritocracy, Said said the council will be approving a policy which outlines such principles. 

However he reassured that the discussion which will be held over the weekend will lead to concrete policies which will be drafted by the PN's recently created policy fora.

Slamming the labour government which he said was characterized by dishonesty, Said said "this is not how the country should be governed and the PN will come forward with concrete proposals, including legal amendments, that guarantee meritocracy."

He added that the PN was voted out of power because it also had its own shortcomings but this government has taken clientalism and cronyism to new heights. 

"We have learned from our past errors and we must go beyond criticizing government's utter incompetence and present a better alternative," he said.