Prime Minister accuses Busuttil of inciting tribal politics

Joseph Muscat says 6,000 people received €4 million in refunds on VAT paid on vehicle registration tax in 2005; accuses Simon Busuttil of resorting to tribal politics and ‘us and them’ mentality

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has accused Opposition leader Simon Busuttil of inciting tribal politics of ‘us and them’ after the PN leader hailed the European Parliament’s vote against Malta’s European Court of Auditors nominee Leo Brincat.

Speaking on One Radio just days after the European Parliament voted against Leo Brincat’s nomination to the European Court of Auditors, the prime minister said he would not drawn up into partisan politics and the people would judge.

“Many people who are not Labour supporters spoke of their disgust at the vote. Simon Busuttil is currently facing an internal threat and the only way he can gather support is to appeal to the hardcore PN supporters by bringing up partisan politics.”

“Simon Busuttil would have been pleased had I fell for his threats but Malta cannot afford to go back to the mentality. My job is to lead my country and criticize where needed and I would not stoop to that level,” he said.

The prime minister also explained that even though Leo Brincat’s nomination fell in its second hurdle after the European Parliament voted against, the nomination would go before the European Council and a decision would be taken in the coming days.

The PL leader explained that the EPP Group in the European Parliament, of which the PN forms part, last week criticised Malta for stopping the European Convention from signing a convention on sports fraud that if enacted “would have undermined Malta’s gaming industry and put thousands of jobs at risk”.

“Does Simon Busuttil agree with the EPP’s criticism? I hope that the Opposition leader comes out and says whether he agrees with the EEP or with Malta,” Muscat argued.

Insisting that the government “will not be held hostage by anyone”, Muscat underlined that he never shied away from criticising someone when need be, irrespective of the political implications.

“Whereas the government criticised the fish farms and the Palumbo Shipyard, the Opposition leader presents himself as having the environment’s best interest at heart, only for him to refuse to comment on controversial issues,” he said.

Muscat explained that some 6,000 people last week received around €4 million in refunds on VAT paid on vehicle registration tax in 2005. He said that refunds had been opposed by Simon Busuttil, and showed that the government was continuing to work in the people’s interests.

The Prime Minister also touched upon the Bratislava EU summit, which he attended last week, and said that even though Malta’s economy had registered “unprecedented” growth and record-low unemployment rates, it would continue to seek investment opportunities outside the EU.

“While Malta’s economy is doing well, the EU is in a difficult situation. Malta has a duty to help the European economy grow, but in the meantime it will continue to look for investment opportunities and be my country’s salesman, whatever people might say. The government has already managed to attract investment from the UAE, Jordan, Azerbaijan and China,” he continued.

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