‘PN will not fall for Muscat’s Zonqor spin and manipulation’ – Busuttil

Opposition leader calls for transparency on government's university agreement with Sadeen Group, insists no ODZ land at Zonqor Point should be developed

Simon Busuttil addresses a protest at Zonqor Point on 31 May
Simon Busuttil addresses a protest at Zonqor Point on 31 May

The Nationalist Party will not fall for the Prime Minister’s spin and manipulation over the partial development of Zonqor Point for the ‘American University of Malta’ project, PN leader Simon Busuttil said.

“Muscat first wanted to develop the whole of Zonqor, but then decided to only develop some of it when he saw so many people protesting against it,” Busuttil said in a telephone interview on Radio 101. “Does he expect us to clap for him and praise him when public land outside development zones at Zonqor will still be given to a private company of Muscat’s own choice?”

He also questioned how the government hand-picked Sadeen Group to construct part of the university campus at Dock 1 in Copsicua, rather than issuing a public call for proposals to renovate the historic building. 

He warned Muscat that the Opposition does not consider the Zonqor controversy to be a closed chapter and insisted that they will continue arguing against it both inside and outside Parliament.

“We agree with environmental NGOs that Zonqor doesn’t need to be developed for the project, we agree with student organisations and lecturers that our educational standards shouldn’t be lowered to appease a single investor, and we condemn the lack of transparency around the entire project.”

In a reaction, the government condemned Busuttil’s “negativity” over the private university project.

“If Busuttil wants to criticise the rent of public land, he should first draw comparisons with the price at which the land on which Smart City was built was rented out,” the government said. “If he does so, he will definitely discover that the government acted in a better manner than its predecessor.”

It insisted that the splitting of the university was a “fair compromise” that will help regenerate the south.

‘Muscat must publish inquiry report into Gaffarena expropriation’

In his interview, Busuttil called on Muscat to instantly publish an inquiry report by the Internal Investigations and Audit Department (IAAD) into the government’s expropriation of half a property in Valletta from Marco Gaffarena.

MaltaToday reported last week that the IAID report has been finalised, but that Muscat is waiting for a parallel investigation by the Auditor General to be concluded before announcing any decision.

“If I were Prime Minister, I’d also revoke the expropriation deals and remove Micahel Falzon from his position as planning parliamentary secretary,” Busuttil said. “I’d also take steps against former police inspector Daniel Zammit who had set up business with the Gaffarenas when he was supposed to be investigating a murder within the family.

“I’d also remove his father, [former police commissioner] Ray Zammit from his position as CEO of a local enforcement agency.”

‘Joe Sammut must have been aided in residence permit scam’

Busuttil reiterated that auditor and former Labour treasurer Joe Sammut could not have acted alone in a recently revealed scam that facilitated the granting of visas and residence permits to Libyans.

“He wouldn’t have been able to obtain hundreds, if not thousands, of visas and residence permits without the help of people within government departments, including Identity Malta,” the PN leader claimed, while calling on Muscat to rescind the visas and residence permits that were granted illegally.

‘Government never had a health roadmap’

Busuttil claimed that the government has completely failed in the leadership of Mater Dei, as evidenced by a recent internal Hospital Activity Report for the first half of 2015 kept secret by the government and published by the Opposition

“The report clearly shows that Labour’s roadmap in the health sector that they had spoken about so much prior to the election never truly existed,” Busuttil said. “Around 50 more patients get admitted to Mater Dei every week than get discharged. This increase in patients was to really due to an increase in elective surgeries, as only 16% of patients were admitted to the hospital foe elective surgeries.

“The government has also lost control of the Accident and Emergency Department, as evidenced by a 7% increase in patients.”

He also said that the government has “failed in the elderly people sector”, as evidenced by the 451 elderly people waiting to get admitted into an old people’s home, and that people have lost heart in Mater Dei, as evidenced by the fact that 53% of appointments scheduled by Outpatients did not show up for their second appointment. 

More in National