PN’s Cedoli scheme ‘puts Malta under bad light’ – Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says loan scheme introduced against the backdrop of increased scrutiny on tax systems and money laundering put Malta under bad light; says Simon Busuttil’s environmental credentials lack substance

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has called on the Nationalist Party to publish the names of donors who contributed to the party’s Cedoli Scheme, arguing that the loans scheme “is akin to money laundering and put Malta under a bad light.”

Speaking on One Radio after Opposition leader Simon Busuttil revealed that the PN’s controversial scheme has so far yielded €3 million from individual sources, the prime minister said the scheme was an opaque and precarious system that kept donors secret and evaded transparency rules.

“If he [Simon Busuttil] really raised €3 million and wants to prove his credibility, he should immediately publish the names of all donors who contributed to the scheme. If he fails to do so, he would be evading transparency rules,” he said.

The controversial Cedoli scheme, which allows for loans of €10,000 that the PN will repay over the next 10 years at an interest of 4%, has been repeatedly criticised by the government and the Labour Party alike as the donors’ names were not disclosed.

The PN has since rejected the calls and has repeatedly stood by its decision not to publish the names of donors due to the fact that the Cedoli scheme is a “private scheme.” Moreover, it has refuted claims that the scheme bypasses party financing rules, instead arguing that the scheme does away with favours that were common under previous schemes.

However, on Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reiterated that the scheme was evading transparency rules.

“The PN’s scheme is not only bypassing party financing laws but it also putting Malta under a bad light as it is being used against the backdrop of increased international scrutiny on tax systems and money laundering,” Muscat said.

The prime minister also pledged that the Labour Party “will not do a PN” and will conform to party financing rules, and insisted that it will not introduce a scheme similar to the Cedoli scheme.

Hitting out at Simon Busuttil’s environmental credentials, the prime minister said the Opposition leader’s recent backing of the Planning Authority’s decision against the fish farms showed his “true colours”.

“Simon Busuttil presents himself as having the environment’s best interest at heart, but he said that he wants the fish farms to continue polluting Malta’s seas and for the Freeport to expand its footprint further inland,” Muscat said.

The Labour leader said Busuttil’s stance in favour of giving fish farm operators more time to address irregularities and relocate further offshore raised suspicions and questioned whether the operators were among the donors who had contributed to the PN’s Cedoli scheme.

Earlier, Muscat said Easyjet’s decision move its base maintenance of all 250 aircrafts to Malta was testament to the government’s decisions and was a “show of trust in Malta.” The prime minister also recalled on how he had met with the company’s executive two years ago “to play the role of salesman.”

The prime minister, who earlier this week was, together with other leaders of EU Mediterranean leaders, at the Athens Summit, also announced on Sunday that he will meeting Germany Chanellor Angela Merkel to discuss the UK's decision to exit the European Union.