Muscat ‘ready to lose votes’ in battle against benefit abuse

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat blasts ‘absentminded’ Nationalist Party after MaltaToday reveals Claudio Grech emails and freemasonry links • PL leader says Malta would have more pollution, higher utility tariffs without new power station

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing Labour faithful at Fgura
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing Labour faithful at Fgura

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has today pledged that he is ready to lose votes in his battle against benefit abuse.

Addressing the Labour faithful in Fgura, the Labour leader pulled no punches and declared that benefit abuse was tantamount to “outright theft,” and insisted that even though he may lose votes, the “silent majority of the population is honest and will support the government’s stance.”

“Not everyone is affected in the same way by benefit abuse. It affects those workers who wake up at 5am everyday, take home minimum wage, while at the same time others are lazing around all days while at the same time registering for benefits,” Muscat argued.

Blasting the PN’s “absentmindedness”, Muscat took umbrage at the Nationalist Party for standing by Claudio Grech after MaltaToday had revealed a series of emails between the Opposition MP and pardoned oil trader George Farrugia.

“Rather than taking action against Claudio Grech, the Nationalist Party said Claudio Grech did not remember that he met George Farrugia. Likewise, the PN said it did not remember that two long-time campaigners close to Mario de Marco had freemasonry links,” Muscat said.

Muscat’s comments come in the wake of a MaltaToday on Sunday report that revealed that two PN members who spearheaded de Marco’s failed PN leadership campaign in 2013 have been suspended over their freemasonry links.

“The PN is the party which has repeatedly insisted that it does not remember anything and that is unaware of what is going on. However, deep down, the country will always remember what previous administrations did,” he said while blasting the PN's previous record on the power station and utility tariffs.

Taking the PN to task for claiming that the reduction in utility tariffs is “thanks to previous administrations,” the prime minister said that if the government were to listen to Simon Busuttil and not build the power station, there would be more pollution and higher electricity bills.

Muscat said if Malta were to remain dependent on Delimara and the use of Heavy Fuel Oil, the cut in prices would not have happened. “If the government listens to Simon Busuttil, the country would have to keep operating with heavy fuel oil which meant more pollution and higher prices.”

Turning his attention on the economy, the prime minister said the government had managed to reduce the deficit to 1.6% without implementing any austerity measures.

“We could have easily brought the deficit down to 0% from 3.6% if we reduced pensions and cut investment. However, whereas other countries embarked on a series of austerity measures, Malta managed to reduce its deficit by increasing economic growth and investment.”

The prime minister took exception at previous PN administration as the latter sought to reduce the country’s deficit at the expense of the middle class and the working class.

“The government reduced its deficit, while at the same time increasing expenditure in education by 38%, in health and elderly by 40%, and on culture by 30%, and attracted more investment,” he said.

Likewise he said, the country managed to create 17 jobs a day and the number of unemployed reduced by 2,250. “Continue to invest in this country and you will find our support.. the government will open its doors for anyone, irrespective of their political colour.”

Dismissing the PN’s claim, the prime minister once again declared that he is proud to be called a “salesman,” and in a dig at the PN, said he would rather attract investment than hatred.

“It is my duty to promote Malta. When I went to China to bring investment to the country, the PN had ridiculed this, but two and half years later, the UK is rolling out the red carpet to bring more Chinese investment in England, China came here first,” he continued.