Muscat calls on Busuttil to start debating constitutional reforms immediately

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says debate on constitutional changes can commence immediately if Busuttil withdraws his reservations on former Nationalist MP Franco Debono

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has pledged that the government is ready to work with the Opposition to improve the country’s governance record, arguing that discussions can start “as from tomorrow” if the Opposition leader withdraws his reservations to the Constitutional Convention being coordinated by former Nationalist MP Franco Debono.

Addressing party faithful at Mqabba, the PL leader noted that the main takeaway’s from the PN’s good governance package focus on Constitutional changes, and that accordingly, this must be discussed during the Constitutional Convention.

“If Busuttil is serious on his proposals and wants to be taken seriously, we can start meeting as from tomorrow and the proposals will be discussed immediately,” he insisted.

But while Muscat was quick to extend his hand of cooperation, the prime minister was quick to lay the ball at the feet of Busuttil, arguing that discussions can only begin if the PN leader withdraws his veto on the coordinator of the Constitutional Convention being former Nationalist MP and current law commissioner Franco Debono.

Muscat also underlined that he will not tarnish the discussion with politics and that during its tenure, the government has already shown its commitment towards improving the country’s governance record as it enacted the financing of political parties act and removed prescription on acts of political corruption.

Taking a swipe at the Opposition leader, Muscat said notwithstanding the ‘good governance’ package proposed by Busuttil, it would be hard for him to shake off the shortcomings and misgivings carried out by previous PN administrations. 

“Certain things cannot be easily forgotten. The Opposition leader is still surrounded by MPs who during the previous legislature received a €500 increase a week and have failed to return this money. Together, they owe the state €1 million. For Busuttil to be credible and taken seriously, his shadow ministers must return this money,” Muscat argued.

The prime minister also argued that the government is ready to make the necessary changes to improve good governance, and said it would enact a law overseeing the appointment of all chairpersons on public authorities and state boards.

Turning his attention on Malta’s security, Muscat insisted that the government was right to suspend the Schengen rules until the end of the year as investigators had uncovered “several rackets” used by people bearing fake passports.

“Had it not been for this decision, we would have never discovered these fake passports as the Schengen rules do not allow security personnel to check a person's travel documents if he is arriving from another Schengen country,” he said.

The prime minister also pledge that to help workers to be laid off by securities company De La Rue to find an alternative job, arguing that the company’s restructuring process will be mitigated through its investment in Malta.

“The restructuring process is a direct result of globalisation. Rather than closing down entirely, the company has been convinced to instead shift some of its work in the UK to Malta ... The worse part of this story is uncertainty, and so I urge the company to keep all of its employees informed about their future and not at odds,” Muscat continued. 

Muscat also insisted that it is unacceptable for employers to find excuses not to employ disabled people, and that workers should be unionised to prevent abuse and exploitation.