‘Convinced I will beat Joseph Muscat in next elections’ – Simon Busuttil

PN leader would evaluate sale-of-passports scheme before deciding changes • Busuttil 'heard rumours of November elections'

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said he is convinced that he can beat Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the next general election, in the same way he beat him during the 2003 referendum for Malta’s accession to the European Union.

“I’ve already beat him once; I can do it again,” Busuttil told Xarabank presenter Peppi Azzopardi during a political activity at the Granaries in Floriana.

“My weapon then was simple: bringing the truth to the public and it is that same weapon which will lead me to win again.”

Busuttil was being interviewed as part of the Nationalist Party’s activities to marking Malta’s Independence. Sitting opposite Azzopardi in a steel structure in the form of a globe, Busuttil also said that rumours were going round of a possible election this November.

“We have to be prepared for anything because we want to be ready for any campaign, comes when it comes. We are in it to win it,” he said.

Earlier, when directly asked whether he believed that an election was imminent, Busuttil replied that it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative to decide when to call an election “but the PN will not be caught unprepared”.

He would not confirm hearsay that he is prepared to contest the general election in Gozo, explaining that the Nationalist Party had yet to decide his districts.

“No decision has been taken, but the PN will decide which are the best districts for me to run,” he said.

The hour-long interview saw Busuttil expressing his position in favour of granting free childcare centres to stay-at-home parents: “Everyone has access to public schools, why should it be any different for childcare centres?”

If elected, he added, he would grant parents sick leave to cover the days when their children are sick at home.

On the sale of passports, Busuttil said that, as a government, he would evaluate the scheme and decide whether any changes would be required.

“Everyone knows I am against the sale of citizenship and we did force changes to the system, making it slightly more acceptable,” he said.

Defending PN MPs and officials whose firms operate the Individual Investor Programme, Busuttil said that he “understood” that as firms they are applying what is legally available.

“If it were me, I would have refused it,” he added.

Busuttil once again defended the PN’s loan scheme – known as ‘cedoli’ – which has reportedly generated some €3 million. On the criticism that it was a secret scheme, Busuttil said the scheme offered loans, as opposed to grants.

“Let’s talk about Egrant, the company which no one knows to whom it belongs,” Busuttil said, referring to a shelf company set up by Nexia BT through Mossack Fonseca.

“We know what ‘grant’ means and ‘E’ can easily stand for elections,” Busuttil said. “I don’t engage in dirty politics.”

On Leo Brincat’s nomination to the European Court of Auditors, Busuttil reiterated that the PN MEPs could have never supported Brincat as a vote in favour would be “a vote in favour of corruption and companies in the secretive jurisdiction of Panama”.

“Leo Brincat knew what was coming for him but he still went ahead. I had warned him in parliament that he would need to explain a vote in favour of Konrad Mizzi.”

Salvu Mallia address political activity

TV presenter Salvu Mallia, who was invited by Busuttil to address the activity, said he wanted to see Busuttil elected prime minister because he was a true “gentleman”.

“I voted Labour because I believed in Joseph Muscat’s promises. The PN sent a lot of people running straight into his arms but after I tasted what Muscat had to offer, I realized that it was only offered empty promises.”

Mallia said that while initially he was going to join a third party – referring to Marlene Farrugia’s Democratic Party – he “changed track and decided to join a strong party”.

“Politicians are there to serve the people... and I will work hard to see Busuttil elected to power.”