‘Government lacks principles, backbone and moral leadership’ – Busuttil

PN leader Simon Busuttil says Malta is in a crisis of leadership as government is turning a blind eye to series of corruption scandals, says PN’s Cedoli Scheme is fully compliant with party financing laws

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

Malta is in a “leadership crisis” and those leading the country lack the necessary principles as they are not investigating the corruption scandals that have been uncovered, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said today.

Speaking during an interview on Radio 101, the PN leader accused the prime minister and the government of turning a blind eye to corruption by failing to investigate the alleged medical visas scandal.

“The only thing worse than corruption is not investigating it. The prime minister has not said anything about the visas scandal, while the police commissioner has said that there is no evidence to arraign Neville Gafà … Since Neville Gafà is part of Castille, then it is obvious why he is not being investigated further,” Busuttil said.

Khaled Ben Nasan – a Libyan businessman turned whistelblower – is accused Neville Gafà, a health ministry official and a political appointee, of siphoning off thousands of euros in exchange for medical visas. His accusations have been rubbished by the authorities, with the police saying they do not have enough evidence to arraign Gafà but the investigation is ongoing.

The PN leader said investigations into the alleged racket in the issuing of visas to Libyan nationals had also widened the spotlight to every visa granted in recent years, including student visas.

“This takes us to the heart of the political situation in our country. Malta is at a crisis of leadership because those in power do not have any principles whatsoever. Everyone has flaws, but the fundamental question is whether Malta’s leaders have any principles. The truth is that the government has no principles, no backbone or scruples,” he said.

Busuttil said this lack of principles was also seen in the hearing of ECA nominee Leo Brincat after the former environment minister said he considered resigning from the Cabinet back when the government was grappling with revelations that former energy minister Konrad Mizzi – today a minister within the Office of the Prime Minister – set up an offshore company in Panama.

“After voting against the no-confidence motion in [former energy minister] Konrad Mizzi, Leo Brincat told MEPs that he had wanted to resign. This is sheer hypocrisy; the government has lost all sense of principles,” he said.

The PN leader also blasted the “arrogant” attitude of Transport Malta executive chairman James Piscopo after the former Labour Party CEO was revealed by MaltaToday to have set up an investment firm of his own.

Busuttil also hit out at former energy minister Konrad Mizzi after PN news organ il-mument claimed that Mizzi’s uncle is a director in the company which is responsible in transporting the anchors that will be used to moor the LNG tanker in Marsaxlokk.

“It is insulting to see the government celebrating the impending arrival of the LNG tanker as an achievement. The original lie, namely the power station’s missed deadlines, has become the smallest issue.”

“It is unacceptable that the government anchors something so dangerous in the middle of Marsaxlokk. No safety studies have been published and residents are duly worried … The PN will not stop here and will continue giving a voice to the citizens,” he said.

Turning his attention on the PN’s cedoli scheme, Busuttil refuted Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s criticism that the scheme is akin to money laundering, insisting that it is in line with party financing laws.

“The scheme is helping the party to clean its finances in an honest way. Regardless of what the Labour Party is saying, the scheme is line with the party financing laws as it was specifically introduced after the law came into force.”

The PN leader explained that the fact that the party is generating money from several donors, and not just a few, meant that the scheme – which so far has generated €3 million – does away with any political favours that were common under previous schemes involving donations.

Busuttil also accused the Labour leader of hypocrisy for his criticism of the scheme, claiming that the Labour Party had raised its funds in a “dubious” manner and had in the past also used a similar scheme to finance the building of a new party headquarters.

“The Prime Minister’s criticism is actually advertising the scheme even more … I don’t blame the prime minister for clutching at straws and criticising the scheme because he does not want the Nationality Party to get back on its feet,” he quipped.