Mizzi’s silence on Panama affairs betrays transparency pledge – Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says it is a shame that the government was paying Shanghai Electric good money to use BWSC power plant

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has hit out at Konrad Mizzi after the former energy minister refused to engage with journalists to discuss his offshore dealings.

The Nationalist Party leader said five months had passed since Konrad Mizzi ordered two separate audits on his financial affairs, arguing that Mizzi had not only reneged on his “pledge” to publish the accounts, but he was now refusing to face journalists.

On Saturday, Mizzi, now ‘a minister without portfolio’ after losing his energy and health portfolios following the Panama Papers revelations, made a rare appearance during a ‘Gvern li Jisma’ event but refused to engage with journalists after the session ended, saying he would only answer questions on the subjects he discussed during the event.

Speaking on Radio 101, the PN leader pulled no punches in denouncing Mizzi’s silence arguing that it was ironic that Mizzi refused to speak at the end of an event which saw government officials “listen” to the people’s concerns.

The PN leader also slammed Mizzi’s involvement in the sale of the BWSC power plant to Chinese-state owned Shanghai Electric, and argued that it was a shame that the government had sold the plant, despite the savings it was yielding in power generation.

Busuttil also condemned the price at which Enemalta is paying in order to continue using the plant. He also took umbrage at the government for failing to publish the sale agreement, and for failing to furnish details on the renting payments.

Busuttil said one must take into consideration the fact that the negotiations were carried out by Minister Konrad Mizzi, as the latter had admitted to having offshore interests and declared that income would come from ‘brokerage’.

The Opposition leader said it was not surprising that the people’s mood towards the government had changed considerably as Malta had become embroiled in a series of scandals.

The PN leader also blasted the government for reneging on its pre-electoral pledges of transparency and on its ‘Malta Taghna Lkoll’ mantra, arguing that what followed was anything but.

Indeed, he explained, that despite promising a culture of resignations and the shouldering of political responsibility, Konrad Mizzi remained a minister while OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri remained in office.

Busuttil also criticised the “disgraceful fact” that no new Police Commissioner had been appointed for almost two months after the resignation of former police chief Michael Cassar.

Muscat, Busuttil said, was clearly afraid of appointing a police commissioner in view of starting investigations into Mizzi and Schembri, among others.

Busuttil drew parallels with Iceland, arguing that not only had the country proven to be inspirational in football, but was also commendable in view of the fact that it forced its prime minister to resign following the Panama Papers scandal.

Busuttil also said that the Panama Papers revelations had harmed Malta’s reputation, more so since Keith Schembri was seen accompanying the prime minister when meeting foreign leaders.

Asked if Malta could logically assume the EU presidency while Mizzi or Mifsud were in office, the Opposition leader said “Malta should not take up the presidency while these people still held sway.”

The Opposition leader, pointing out this year’s bad start for the government in what were the Prime Minister’s New Year’s address and the emergence of multiple scandals, conveyed his determination in strengthening the Nationalist Party by making it the people’s party.

On behalf of the Nationalist Party, Busuttil continued, the PN’s prime objective is to fight injustice and to be as close as possible to the people, unlike the Labour’s lie based on lack of transparency and cheap tax-funded propaganda.