‘Will Simon Busuttil take action against Claudio Grech?’ – Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat asks whether ‘Mr Standards’ Simon Busuttil will take action against Nationalist MP Claudio Grech after exclusive MaltaToday report revealed correspondence between Grech and oil trader George Farrugia

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Photo Ray Attard)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Photo Ray Attard)

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has today taken a shot at Opposition leader Simon Busuttil’s “proud record of standards” and asked whether the PN leader would take action against Nationalist MP Claudio Grech for not telling the truth about his meetings to George Farrugia.

Muscat’s comments come in the wake of an exclusive MaltaToday report which revealed how Nationalist MP Claudio Grech, who before 2013 served in transport and infrastructure minister Austin Gatt’s personal secretariat, had met pardoned oil trader George Farrugia on more than one occasion before 2012.

Emails shown by MaltaToday contradict Grech’s sworn statement before the Public Accounts Committee that he had first met Farrugia in 2012. Rather, according to email correspondence published today by MaltaToday, it is clearly shown that Grech had met Farrugia, a member of the family business John’s Group, back in 2006.

Following MaltaToday’s report, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning said Claudio Grech had lied before the Public Accounts Committee when he said that he only met George Farrugia in 2012.

“From email correspondence revealed this morning in MaltaToday it is clearly shown that Claudio Grech had exchanged emails with George Farrugia as far back as 2006,” he said.

Describing Opposition leader Simon Busuttil as ‘Mr Standards’, Muscat argued that the ball is now in the PN leader’s court.

“What will the leader of the Opposition do now that one of his MPs lied before parliament - the highest institution in Malta? His decision will undoubtedly affect his and his party’s credibility,” Muscat remarked.

The prime minister said that he hopes that the PN leader would not shy away from taking action and remain idle “just like he had done with a Nationalist MP [Francis Zammit Dimech] who faced charges of involuntary homicide.”

Addressing party faithful in Birzebbuga, the prime minister also announced that a national development fund tasked with administering €52.5 million raked in from the Individual Investor Programme, will be headed by former Chamber of Commerce president David Curmi.

The development fund will also be managed by MCESD chairman John Bencini, former Central Bank of Malta governor Michael Bonello, economist Karm Farrugia, and former Labour candidate Maria Camilleri.

Muscat said Malta had raked in a total of €75 million from the Individual Investor Fund, and that 30% will be used to finance the government’s measures.

Toasting the government’s achievements ahead of Monday’s budget, the prime minister said Malta was “repeatedly showing that it is capable of being among the best in Europe.”

Despite falling short of mentioning any concrete budgetary measures, Muscat insisted that tomorrow’s budget will address poverty, and also announced a reduction in fuel prices that will come into effect next year.

The prime minister argued that under Labour’s watch, the public’s perception of the Budget has changed and now the country feels at rest.

“Whenever a budget used to come up, the public used to dread the feeling. We were accustomed to increases in prices and a general feeling of uncertainty. Under this government, however, we have grown accustomed to stability,” Muscat continued amid chants of ‘Joseph, Joseph’.

The PL leader also took a swipe at the Opposition and Simon Busuttil, after the latter had argued that the economy was doing well because of the seeds sown by the previous administration.

“It is true that some of the economic sectors were doing well, including the financial services and gaming sectors. However, the reality was that the economy was stagnated, and that there was no investment and high unemployment.” The prime minister also remarked that the government had inherited a deficit percentage of 3.7% only for this to be cut to 1.6%.