[WATCH] Prime Minister confident he will convince people of his 'right decision'

Joseph Muscat says he has faith in Keith Schembri: 'He has always done his work very well' 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing The Economist conference
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing The Economist conference
Muscat confident he will convince people of his 'right decision'

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is confident that, by time and with results, he will convince the Maltese public and electorate that he took the "best decision" over minister Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.

Both men have been embroiled in the Panama Papers revelations. The Prime Minister yesterday announced that Schembri will remain his chief of staff whilst Mizzi will now be a minister without a portfolio, answering directly to the Prime Minister and carrying out projects as Muscat decides. The move comes as part of a wider Cabinet reshuffle.

The move has however been decried by the Opposition as "a farce", with Simon Busuttil claiming that Muscat was blackmailed by Mizzi and Schemrbi.“Today we have a confirmation that Muscat is personally involved with Schembri and Mizzi,” Busuttil alluded to the offshore companies the two close officials have opened. “Muscat is complicit with Schembri and Mizzi. We have been asking for a police investigation in this matter… we insist that the police investigate the fact that a minister has opened a secret Panama company, because the only implication here is simple: corruption.”

Responding to questions by reporters at the Hilton Hotel, where he addressed The Economist's Mediterranean Leadership Summit, Muscat challenged the PN leader "to clarify his insinuations".

"Busuttil should speak clearly ... and I will proceed to open a libel case against him," Muscat said.

"It is the opposition leader who is a farce," he retorted. "Faced by clear accusations that Mario de Marco had free works done, Busuttil has failed to take action. I challenge him to take steps against him."

Muscat insisted that he will convince the public that decision he took was the "best one".

"I don't expect anyone to come out lauding my decision. But I will convince people of my decision through the results that we will achieve. I will convince people that my decision was in the best interest."

He reiterated that he was not swayed by pollsters or popularity but based his decision on facts and public sentiment. "I did what no other Prime Minister had the courage to do. I stripped him [Mizzi] of an important portfolio. I also know that he is a man that delivers, and many agree. Part of his redemption will be that of delivering the power station project and the switch to gas."

Muscat defended Schembri's position as holding a position of trust. "He enjoys my trust. He has always done his work very well and I think I should keep on trusting him."

The Cabinet reshuffle also saw the promotion of Jose Herrera as minister for the environment and the return of Manuel Mallia to the Cabinet.

"I think that Mallia has had enough time to shoulder responsibility for what happened," Muscat said, referring to Mallia's resignation follow a shooting incident involving his former driver.

On Herrera's appointment, Muscat said his main task will be reaching out to the green NGOs and communicate more with them: "It won't mean that we will always agree but we want to be able to better communicate with them." 

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