‘Government has nothing to be ashamed of’ – Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says government must understand those who felt disappointed by recent developments • Hours before PN's protest against corruption, Muscat says Simon Busuttil was 'part of the most corrupt governemnt this country has ever seen'

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has today argued that the government needs to understand those who felt disappointed by recent developments surrounding his minister's offshore company in Panama, but notwithstanding he said the government had “nothing to be ashamed of.”

Faced with the PN’s onslaught on corruption in the wake of the 'Panamagate' scandal, the PL leader sought to turn the tables on the Nationalist Party, insisting that the hypocrisy he had seen in the past few days was incredible and glaring.

Addressing the Labour faithful in Mgarr, Gozo, the prime minister mounted a spirited offensive against the Nationalist Party, particularly against its leader Simon Busuttil and PN executive president Ann Fenech – whose legal firm Fenlex happens to be the director of a Panamanian company formed through law firm Mossack Fonseca.

“Ann Fenech was involved in Panamanian companies and her company said on its website that it could assist in the opening of companies abroad, including Panama. No wonder that when she was asked whether she has a company in Panama, she looked nervous,” Muscat said.

Muscat’s comments come in the wake of a report by MaltaToday on Sunday which revealed that Mossack Fonseca – the law firm notorious for doing the bidding of nefarious oligarchs the world over – was used by Fenlex Corporate Services Ltd.

Fenech, the PN executive president, has since refuted claims that she owns a company in Panama, but nonetheless, Muscat insisted that Fenech’s links to Panama were "symptomatic of the lack of credibility within the Nationalist Party."

“Old habits die hard. When Fenech was asked about this company, she said she was unaware of it .. This reminds of someone who had forgotten of having a bank account in Switzerland,” Muscat quipped, ostensibly referring to former PN minister Austin Gatt.

Taking a swipe at PN leader Simon Busuttil, Muscat insisted that the PN’s protest against corruption was essentially a protest against himself.

“The Opposition leader has a right to hold a protest and it is everyone’s right to take part. The PN has made a huge effort to try and mobilise people to attend today’s vote. Ironically however, Busuttil is holding a PN mass meeting against himself because he was part of the most corrupt government which Malta ever saw,” Muscat rallied.

But Muscat insisted that the mistakes carried out by previous administrations would not be used to justify for any wrongdoing or shortcomings by the government.

“The people always expect better from this government. We have to learn from our mistakes and correct them, as well as to anticipate them,” he said.

“We need to understand those who genuinely asked questions and felt disappointed by the recent developments.”

“We need to be humble enough to understand when we could have done things differently,” Muscat argued while warning the party faithful that the government must be humble enough to admit its mistakes and change tack.

Undeterred, the prime minister said that notwithstanding the government’s shortcomings, the Labour Party would still win the general election as the Opposition “had not learned anything and failed to change in two-and-a-half years.”

The prime minister insisted that contrary to Nationalist MPs during the previous legislature, Labour MPs had not taken a €500 a week increase.

“Should the government be ashamed for growing the economy, for increasing jobs, saving Enemalta, reduced energy tariffs, closing the Marsa power station after 25 years of empty promises, reducing hospital waiting times, introduced gender identity legislation and civil unions, returning Gozo Channel from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability?”

Similarly, he questioned whether the government should be ashamed for enacting the Whistleblowers’ Act,  the party financial law, for giving voting rights to 16-year-old, fighting benefit abuse, improve maternity leave and for reducing poverty, amongst others.

Roaring to a thunderous applause by the Gozo faithful, the Prime Minister insisted that all of the government’s achievements in its two-and-a-half years in power had made him “proud of his team.”