[WATCH] Simon Busuttil: new PN government will launch independent inquiry into Panamagate

PN leader’s Independence Day rally pledges “independence from injustice, corruption and poverty” • PN in government will reduce government housing rental hikes and ensure free medicinals for elderly

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil addressing party faithful at the granaries in Floriana
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil addressing party faithful at the granaries in Floriana
Simon Busuttil: new PN government will launch independent inquiry into Panamagate

The Nationalist Party in government will reverse the raise in the rates of government housing rent introduced under the Labour administration and provide all medicine to elderly people for free, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil told the PN faithful in a mass meeting on Tuesday evening.

Busuttil also pledged to remove tax on pensions and ensure that cancer patients have access to chemotherapy.

Addressing the Nationalist Party’s traditional mass meeting on the Granaries in Floriana marking Independence Day, Busuttil thanked the “enormous” crowd for once again gathering on the Fosos – which he described as “the natural home” of the PN – and for turning up whenever the party called on them.

Busuttil welcomed people in the crowd who he said would be voting for the PN for the first time in the general election, having voted for other parties before, and said he will back a proposal to lower the voting age in general elections to 16.

He thanked his partner Kristina and their children Greg, Zak and Pippa for their continuous support, saying that his family history – Busuttil is separated from his first wife –  “mirrors that of many Maltese families who faced many harsh years and experiences but came through nonetheless, because together we can succeed.”

PN deputy leader for parliamentary affairs Mario De Marco (photo: Ivan Consiglio)
PN deputy leader for parliamentary affairs Mario De Marco (photo: Ivan Consiglio)

He said that in a visit to the dockyards last week – a first for a PN leader – he encountered many workers who worked long hours every day, trying to make ends meet for their families.

The common denominator amongst all workers was their conviction that they had been betrayed by the Labour government which turned its back on them after gaining their vote, Busuttil said. “To these workers and all the others, I will promise you that the Nationalist Party will never discard you, because we are here to serve you and to use you.”

Busuttil said he frequently met parents who complained that they were spending half their wages on food for the family, in sharp contrast to statements made by “the minister with a Panama account” – a reference to Konrad Mizzi – that a week’s shopping today cost a mere €25.

Reducing government housing rents

He also pledged to reverse the Labour government’s decision to raise government housing rent, which he dubbed a “tax on poverty”.

“You really would need to have lost your social compass if you start taxing poverty,” he said. “My promise to you is that a Nationalist government will once again lower rental rates.”

Busuttil said elderly people he met, suffering from diabetes were no longer checking their sugar levels because they could not afford to do so. “It is high time that our elderly be given free medicine, whatever the medicine they need,” he said. “And they should no longer have to pay tax on their pensions.”

Former PN leader and prime minister Lawrence Gonzi in the crowd on the granaries (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)
Former PN leader and prime minister Lawrence Gonzi in the crowd on the granaries (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)

He also said cancer patients should not need to have to go begging to the President of the Republic, to be able to afford chemotherapy – referring to Community Chest Fund assistance for cancer care. “Where is the dignity in that?” he asked. “Whoever needs treatment should have it by right, not as a favour.”

He said proper healthcare was not simply a case of curing illness but also leading healthy lifestyles in the first place. “A PN government will invest heavily in sports activities and programmes for the general public so that everyone will have a chance to avoid health problems.”

Anti-corruption drive

One of the first priorities for a PN government would be “to remove the corruption that had become endemic under this administration”, which he dubbed the most corrupt government since the country gained its independence in 1964.

He said will set up an independent inquiry to investigate the Panama scandal, the contract for the LNG power station, Enemalta and all other contracts signed by this government.

“And those who suffered discrimination and injustice at the hand of this government will find justice under a PN government,” he said.

He also said the Commissioner of Police was protecting corrupt individuals and practices. “I know people are worried about security, because of the thousands of visas that have been issued without control and because of corruption,” he said. “The country’s security will also be a priority for a new PN government.”

PN deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)
PN deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)

Busuttil said the country had to become independent again, ensuring that public officials serve the people and not the interests of the government. “This is true independence: independence of thought, independent from injustice, corruption, poverty and environmental destruction,” he said

The PN leader has also announced the formation of a national coalition against corruption. “This is why I am asking for your support in the next general election,” he said. “Whenever the election is called, we will be ready. We are not afraid of challenges. This is what makes us the Nationalist Party.”

Deputy leaders’ addresses

Earlier the crowd was addressed by deputy leaders Mario de Marco and Beppe Fenech Adami.

De Marco called on the country and party supporters to unite behind the party’s leadership to ensure that Malta remain truly independent and not continue serving the interests of the few.

Beppe Fenech Adami, deputy PN leader for party affairs, said that this independence day would mark the birth of a movement – led by Simon Busuttil – which would do away with the most corrupt government in Malta’s history.

“Today we have a country where only the few succeed, like the Chinese entrepreneurs who are given national assets for nothing, the Jordanian businessman who was given Zonqor, and Cyrus Engerer who was sent to Brussels with a large salary,” he said.

Simon Busuttil promised to reverse the rate on government rent introduced by this administration (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)
Simon Busuttil promised to reverse the rate on government rent introduced by this administration (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)

Fenech Adami told party supporters to be proud to be part of the nationalist family and called on them to be ready because the party would be seeking their support in the coming months.

“To those who declared they will fight us with knives and axes, I say today we will fight back with honesty and truth, and with our best weapon, Simon Busuttil,” he said.

Malta, Fenech Adami said, deserved a PN government led by Simon Busuttil.

“There you will see how we really will succeed all together,” he said.

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