MaltaToday survey shows PN election victory is possible - Simon Busuttil

Busuttil encouraged by gains registered by the PN in MaltaToday survey: people know their vote can take country back from handful keeping it hostage

PN leader Simon Busuttil says he has been swimming against the current for the past four years but remains committed to his belief in good governmance
PN leader Simon Busuttil says he has been swimming against the current for the past four years but remains committed to his belief in good governmance

The MaltaToday survey published on Sunday had shown the Nationalist Party trailing the Labour Party by only four points, down from 12% in the 2013 general elections, proof the country saw that the PN can win the next election, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said on Wednesday.

Speaking on Net Television's Iswed fuq l-Abjad, Busuttil said that he was encouraged by the gains registered by the PN, and that people realised they can use their vote put the country back on the right track and take Malta back from the handful of people who had taken it hostage.

“The Nationalist Party remains committed to being pro-active even while in opposition,” Busuttil said. “In the coming days, we will now be publishing a new document outlining our long-term vision for the transport and traffic sector in our country.”

The PN leader said his decision to publicly criticise the db Group’s €60 million concession for the ITS land in St Julian’s, despite its commercial relationship with the party and its media companies, was further proof of his party’s commitment to good governance and transparency in politics.

“I described what happened in the past two weeks as a political earthquake because I am aware that people and businesses are not used to a party criticising something that might effect its donations,” he said.

“But I could not remain silent when the government gave away the site of the Institute for Tourism Studies for a mere €15 million concession when the land had been previously valued by the government itself at €200 million.”

Busuttil acknowledged having faced criticism for publicising the SMS received from the db Group’s CEO, in which Arthur Gauci demanded that the PN return donations given to the party. He later said the db Group had been paying the salaries of the PN’s secretary-general and CEO.

“It is no secret that political parties live and thrive because of private donations, but that should not be an excuse to close an eye to all sort of irregularities,” he said. “I made the SMS public because people have a right to realise that the political system needs to change to ensure that no large business cannot hold any party hostage.”

Busuttil has now set up party commission to analyse party financing rules, headed by judge Giovanni Bonello, to draw up recommendations for a better set-up, which might include the option of having full-time MPs. “If I do not contribute anything else to local politics, I will at least have contributed to making the system better and more transparent,” he said. “I know I am swimming against the current, but I have been doing that for the past four years now, and I committed to continue down this path.”

Busuttil also said big businesses should welcome someone who treats everyone equally, contrary to what this government had done when it gave away the ITS site at a very reduced price.

Busuttil acknowledged that while people might be concerned about making ends meet and providing for their families than about corruption and scandals, everyone should realise they are themselves individually paying for the corruption under the Labour government.

“It is not right that there is no longer a level playing field at all levels,” he said. “This week I met a carer employed by a private contractor to provide a service at Mater Dei Hospital and she told me that, while she earns €5.61 an hour, fellow carers in public employment at the same hospital earned around €7 per hour. That is unacceptable.”

Busuttil said he would continue to criticise public institutions taking decisions in the interest of prime minister Joseph Muscat and not in that of the public. “It is unheard of for the police commissioner, for example, to choose not to investigate the involvement of former energy minister Konrad Mizzi and the prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri in the Panama Papers scandal. I will continue to speak up because the people deserve justice, and I vow to bring to justice anyone who is found to have been involved in any form of irregularity or harassment of others.”

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