PL claims Busuttil doesn’t want ministers to travel on official duty

PN denies that Busuttil calling for ministers to be fined for missing Parliament when on official duty abroad, says Opposition leader was merely 'pointing out discrimination' envisaged in new law between ministers and other MPs

The Labour Party has accused Opposition leader Simon Busuttil of proposing that ministers shouldn’t travel abroad on official duty.

However, a spokesperson for the PN leader argued that Busuttil’s parliamentary speech on Monday has been mis-interpreted.

“Busuttil is essentially saying that Malta shouldn’t be represented at high-level EU meetings,” the PL said in a statement. “It appears as though his unfortunate tenure as Opposition leader has caused him to forget the most basic things that he had known as a MEP, such as the importance for a country to be represented at such meetings. Busuttil is so entrenched in the elite class, that he is incapable of realizing the most basic things.”

Parliament on Monday debated a government motion that called, among others, for MPs to be fined €50 for every parliamentary session they miss. However, MPs who are abroad on parliamentary, government or official party business will be exempt from the fine. Busuttil zoomed into that clause to claim that the government was proposing “one law for ministers and another law for the rest of us animals”.

Home affairs minister Carmelo Abela had stood up on a point of order to argue that the exemptions will be applicable to all MPs, to which Busuttil responded: “Including for when you’ll be abroad”.

“For when we’re on government work, not for when we’re on holiday,” Abela said, to which the PN leader retorted that “ministers’ work lies first and foremost inside the House, not abroad”.

A spokesperson for Busuttil told MaltaToday that the Opposition leader wasn’t arguing that ministers should be exempt from fines when travelling on government business, but was merely pointing out the “discrimination” envisaged in the proposal.

“Every MP has a full-time job, be it as a minister or in some other position,” he said. “His argument was that only ministers will be exempted from fines when travelling on work business.”

However, when asked whether Busuttil was suggesting that the exemption be extended to all MPs who travel on work business, he said that the Opposition leader had not proposed such an extension. 

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