[WATCH] Delia will remain ‘ship’s captain’, PN MEP hopeful says

​MEP candidates Frank Psaila for the Nationalist Party and James Grech for the Labour Party were on Xtra this evening, discussing some of the main issues which shaped 2018

Tonight's Xtra looked back at some of the topic which shaped 2018, with guests Frank Psaila and James Grech
Tonight's Xtra looked back at some of the topic which shaped 2018, with guests Frank Psaila and James Grech

Adrian Delia’s position at the helm of the Nationalist Party is not expected to change, Nationalist Party MEP candidate Frank Psaila said.

Psaila, who was on Xtra this evening along with prospective Labour Party Europarliamentarian James Grech, said Delia felt it was very important to meet people and establish a close relationship with the man on the street.

“I have no doubt Delia will remain the ship’s captain,” Psaila said, when asked by presenter Saviour Balzan whether the PN leader had overcome internal party tribulations, “He started off from a 40,000-vote electoral defeat, and it was obvious he would encounter some resistance.”

“But what I like a lot about him is that he is getting very close to the people. You rarely find him at PN headquarters - he is usually visiting people in their homes,” he said, highlighting that there was now less opposition to him within the party, as members were realising that unity was essential.

PN MEP hopeful Frank Psaila
PN MEP hopeful Frank Psaila

Today’s programme involved a discussion on some of the main issues which characterised the past year, touching upon subjects such as economic well-being, Egrant and corruption.

On the subject of Malta's economic growth, Grech, a Bank of Valletta director, said that wealth was being fairly distributed amongst the people. Psaila, however, insisted that the economy’s trickle-down effect wasn’t functioning as it should.

“It is clear that the trickle down effect is not reaching everyone,” Psaila said, “The country’s surplus is not being felt by all. We need to adopt adequate measures which can be used to assess those in need and ensure they start sharing in the wealth.”

While Psaila said that, from meeting people in their homes, it was evident that the situation amongst certain segments in society did not reflect the “on-paper” economic progress, Grech argued that the government’s budgetary measures were meant to cater for everyone.

“I am convinced the wealth is being distributed. The PL set off from a position of a budgetary deficit, and laid out a long-term plan. The Maltese economy is moving forward, and the trickle down effect is in place,” Grech emphasised.

As the discussion shifted to the Egrant saga, Psaila highlighted that, despite the publication of the conclusions of the report on the Panamanian company, doubts still remain, because it has not emerged who its owner is.

Labour candidate for the European Parliament James Grech
Labour candidate for the European Parliament James Grech

“The PN had made it clear from the outset that it would respect the conclusions of Magistrate Aaron Bugeja’s inquiry on the case. Once the conclusions were published, this created a certain degree of sympathy with the Prime Minister, after it was found that Egrant didn’t belong to the Muscat family,” the Nationalist MP said. 

“But, shortly after, doubts started to re-emerge, because there remains the question of who the owner of Egrant is.”

“Why hasn’t the entire document been published, so that journalists can analyse it and see how the magistrate came to his conclusions? What is keeping the Prime Minister from publishing the document?” he asked.

Grech, on his part, reiterated the government’s position that although Joseph Muscat does want to publish the full report, the Attorney General has advised him not to.

“We know that signatures were falsified in the case of Egrant, which is something very serious. And the Prime Minister and his family were attacked based on allegations which have now turned out to not have been true. The Prime Minister wants to publish the full Egrant report, but the Attorney General’s advice is to not do so,” he underlined.

Questioned on the issue of taking political responsibility when it came to another offshore company - the Dubai-registered 17 Black, the owner of which was revealed as being Electrogas investor Yorgen Fenech - Grech, reflecting the government’s mantra, said that the relevant investigation would have to first take its course before any action is taken.

“The Prime Minister was always consistent in his stand that he will first wait for the investigation to be concluded before taking any action,” Grech said.

The issue of corruption was also featured, with Psaila underscoring that corrupt practices would become important to people when they started to be personally affected by them.

“People pay attention to corruption not when it is discussed in the media, but when it starts having an impact on their pockets,” he said, “I think that this effect wasn’t yet felt to a significant-enough degree by the time of the last election. But, as more times goes by, people are better realising that corruption is going to have an impact on their lives.”