Muscat urges Busuttil to sort out PN, promises ‘social’ Budget

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says tomorrow's budgetary measures will be mindful of those in need, including pensioners, minimum-wage earners and those dependent on social benefits.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has called on the Opposition leader to “stop chasing windmills” and take note of what was happening within the Nationalist Party after it was revealed that PN’s former finance minister Tonio Fenech could be facing a criminal investigation in Sweden.

Muscat’s comments were made in the wake of a MaltaToday report, which on Sunday, revealed that former PN minister Tonio Fenech could be facing a criminal investigation in Sweden after the country’s pensions authority reported to the Swedish police a Malta-based fund he is a director of – allegedly for its inability to pay Swedish savers their monies.

The prime minister explained that after last week’s revelations into PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami, the onus was on Simon Busuttil to take action and “sort out the Nationalist Party.”

A joint investigation by MaltaToday and freelance journalist Mark Hollingsworth revealed that a police investigation in January 2013 that raised the spectre of money laundering was never pursued by the Maltese police, ostensibly when the name of Nationalist MP and then-parliamentary assistant for home affairs Beppe Fenech Adami cropped up as one of the directors of a fiduciary services company that handled the affairs of CapitalOne Investment Group – the company under investigation.

Speaking in Marsa, Muscat suggested that if the PN were to use the same yardstick it applied following the oil procurement scandal, Beppe Fenech Adami should resign and not contest the next general election.

“In the run-up to the 2013 election, [former labour Party official] Joe Cordina was revealed to be a director of a fiduciary company mentioned in the oil scandal. The PN said Cordina should resign and not contest the general election on the basis that he was responsible, and Cordina resigned. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Muscat said.

“The Opposition leader should not be chasing windmills, when he should really be minding what is going around him,” Muscat said.

“I will not enter into the merits of either case, but I wonder what action will be taken against Tonio Fenech and Beppe Fenech Adami. What would the perfect person do?” Muscat said in a quip at Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

Addressing the Labour faithful in Marsa, the Labour leader insisted that tomorrow’s budget will be a “social budget” mindful of those most in need.

“As has been the case in the preceding years, people do not feel anxious, but are looking forward to what the government will give them. The government’s plan has always been clear and tomorrow’s budget will be another step in a roadmap for the creation of a new middle class,” Muscat explained.

The prime minister pledged that the government would seek to help those sections of society that “had not reaped the benefits of Malta’s economic growth,” arguing that these include pensioners, minimum wage earners, those dependent on social benefits.

“Those who are struggling and in genuine need will be helped. Tomorrow’s budget will be a social budget, it will be mindful of those who are struggling,” he said.

Welcoming Standard & Poor’s upgrade of Malta’s credit rating to A-, Muscat said the ratings upgrade meant that Malta under the Labour government had been promoted to the Serie A.

“Three and a half years ago we inherited a country with a high unemployment rate, crumbling infrastructure, and other problems which relegated Malta to the Sere B. The ratings upgrade will not only attract investment and result in lower borrowing costs, but it would also benefit the taxpayer,” he said.

The prime minister said an improvement economy translates into higher living standards and this is why the government was pro-business. He explained that last year, Malta Enterprise approved 45 investment projects, creating 800 jobs.

“The question that remains is whether the people are doing better than they were doing three years ago? Despite its achievements, the government will not stand on its laurels,” he said.

Muscat also said that the government’s energy roadmap had been central to Malta’s economic growth, as consumers were now paying low tariffs.

“If it were for the Nationalist Party, Malta would still be using Heavy Fuel Oil, and this would have meant higher utility tariffs.

The prime minister also hit at Busuttil’s “inconsistency” arguing that the Opposition leader’s main problem was that he speaks before he thinks. Muscat asked whether a future PN government led by Busuttil would remove the LNG tanker from Marsaxlokk, claiming that if this were to be done, consumers would have to pay higher bills, and the return of the use of heavy fuel oil and pollution.

The PL leader also hit out at Busuttil’s criticism of the LNG tanker, arguing that under a EU directive, all EU ports had to have a LNG facility. 

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