PN candidates insist party is serious alternative, lambast government's ‘lies and deceit’

Local council candidates address Nationalist Party general council meeting, candidates lambast government's role in Cafe Premier Scandal, say PN offer serious alternative to the electorate.

PN Secretary General Chris Said, PN Executive president Paula Mifsud Bonnici, and party deputy leaders Beppe Fenech Adami and Mario de Marco.
PN Secretary General Chris Said, PN Executive president Paula Mifsud Bonnici, and party deputy leaders Beppe Fenech Adami and Mario de Marco.

The Nationalist Party’s general council meeting is currently underway, with local council candidates, backbenchers, and shadow ministers present.

Themed Nagħmlu Differenza (Making a difference), the general council meeting is part of the party’s customary post-Budget configuration. The meeting has so far been addressed by several candidates, who during their respective speeches have insisted that in spite of the PN's loss in the 2013 general election, the party is still a 'serious' alternative to the electorate.

Candidates also delivered a scathing account of the government's tenure, arguing that under Joseph Muscat the country has been littered with incidents of "corruption, lies, and deceit." Candidates also described the €4.2 million Cafe Premier deal as a “scandal,” while others have called on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to shoulder political responsibility. A MaltaToday report on the €4.2 million amicable “bailout” between the Government’s Lands Department and Valletta’s Café Premier was vindicated by Auditor General’s report which flagged poor governance and lack of documentation justifying the decision to buy back the lease.

The report by the National Audit Office, requested by the Opposition, was spurred on by MaltaToday’s first report back in February 2014 when it broke the story that the Government Property Department (GPD) had withdrawn legal action for the rescission of CE’s lease, despite having fallen back on some €250,000 in ground rent, and instead paid €4.2 million bailout to buy back the 65-year lease.

Addressing the PN faithful and local councillors, PN candidate David Thake insisted that the Cafe Premier Scandal is the epitome of the Labour Party’s governance.

Thake argued that the Malta Taghna Lkoll has become the “joke of the century” while the government’s tenure has been littered with shortcomings – culminating in “corruption, vindictive transfers, deceit, lies, jobs for the Labour’s inner circles, as well as the €4.2 million Cafe Premier Scandal.”

“The €500 increase in the MPs wage back in 2012 would have cost the country €1.3 million in five years. However, this is nothing compared with the €4.2 million Cafe Premier Scandal that the government spent out of the taxpayer’s pocket in just five months,” he said.

The PN candidate argued that despite the party still reeling from its loss in the 2013 general election, the Nationalist Party still offers a beacon of hope and a “serious alternative” to the country.

Echoing Thake, Birzebbugia candidate Hermann Schiavone insisted that ethical standards are nowhere to be seen under the Labour government. He explained that while the government was busy awarding the Labour inner circles with lavish jobs and exorbitant wages, the workers were left with a mere 58c increase in their wages.

Rallying on the party faithful to vote for the PN candidates in the upcoming April elections, Schiavone also appealed to the Labourites to “express their disappointment in the way the Labour Party is governing by voicing their disapproval through their vote.”

On his part, Dingli candidate David Vassallo said that while the government was busy at filling the pockets of the party’s inner circles, the Nationalist Party was busy listening to the people. He said that under the Labour Party, the electorate are getting the short end of the stick and being treated like second-class citizens. Swieqi deputy mayor Justin Fenech argued that political honesty is just a buzzword under the Labour Party.