[WATCH] Electorate may feel corruption is a stale issue but it is not irrelevant , Claudio Grech says

On TVM’s Xtra, Joseph Muscat’s ’10-year challenge’ speech was discussed with Labour MP Edward Zammit Lewis and Nationalist MP Claudio Grech

Edward Zammit Lewis and Claudio Grech crossed swords over Joseph Muscat's 10-year-challenge
Edward Zammit Lewis and Claudio Grech crossed swords over Joseph Muscat's 10-year-challenge

Nationalist MP Claudio Grech has insisted that the Opposition has a duty to keep on campaigning on good governance, even if the issue may appear to have become stale with the electorate.

“Good governance should always be on the opposition’s agenda. We have an obligation to the electorate and politics is built on always seeking an improvement on what we have,” Grech said during TVM programme Xtra, hosted by Saviour Balzan.

Grech was invited with Labour Party MP Edward Zammit Lewis to discuss the Prime Minister's 10-year-challenge speech. On Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat used the Facebook 10-year-challenge meme to show how Malta changed over the last decade, highlighting the decisions taken by the Labour government since 2013.

The PN MP said the party’s agenda should be built on issues concerning people. However, the loss of public interest in particular issues does not make them irrelevant.

Asked on the issue of corruption, Edward Zammit Lewis said that multiple inquiries have been initiated and no allegations have so far been proven truthful. 

"I do not base facts on allegations, I base facts on inquiry results, and as has been proven by the Egrant inquiry, allegations are sometimes proven to be lies," he said.

PN MEP candidate Michael Brigulio in a recorded clip said that Muscat forgot to mention the negatives of the government in his Sunday speech. "Muscat forgot to talk about Konrad [Mizzi], Keith [Schembri] and the widespread corruption in this country," he said. 

Grech praised the government for the economic growth experienced over the past five years but insisted this had to be analysed to understand the underlying reasons that fuelled it. He said growth could be attributed to sectors founded by the previous administration. 

“The economic model must be built on innovation and a growing economy, something which this administration has yet to invest in,” he said. 

One of Muscat’s talking points in last Sunday’s speech was the reduction of electricity and water bills. 

Zammit Lewis praised the government’s efforts in keeping its electoral promise to reduce tariffs by 25%.

“The electoral manifesto is a binding contract with the electorate, and I am pleased to say that we did fulfil that promise, unlike former PN ministers who told us to ‘get used to it’,” he said.

Grech rebutted that the reduction in electricity bills could be credited to the interconnector built by the PN and an international reduction in prices.

“Prior to the election they told us that it would be impossible to fulfil our promises, now they call us lucky,” the Labour MP hit back.

Grech also criticised the power station project, quoting the Auditor General's findings.

“The documents released to us and the media by the government were blacked out, but when the Auditor General saw it, he himself remarked on the high price the government is paying,” Grech said.

Environmental degradation

Zammit Lewis admitted environmental degradation was one of the biggest challenges the government was facing. “It is a problem that has spurred from a positive change, and I believe the government is more than equipped to handle it."

PL MEP candidate Josianne Cutajar, in a recorded clip, said the PL government not being pro-environment was a perception, with multiple education campaigns launched, most recently the ‘Sort it Out’ recycling scheme.

Grech said that economic growth would be useless without having the open spaces where people could enjoy their free time.

The future for the PN and Muscat

On the PN’s future, Grech said the PN’s current situation must be put into perspective. 

“The party has come from 25-year term where it has revolutionised the country. I believe that when we start learning from our mistakes the Nationalist Party will become the natural political home for Maltese once again," Grech said.

He insisted the future was not based on "cockiness and attacks" but on policies which directly affect the people

Zammit Lewis praised Grech’s comments, stating that the country longs for a constructive Opposition that does not base its campaign on negativity.

On Joseph Muscat’s future, the Labour MP said that he wants him to stay.

“I want him to stay, but the party’s success can be credited to other factors other than him, that’s what makes it a strong party,” he said.

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