[WATCH] Charity was just 5% of my work, President says

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca says that she is glad to be leaving partisan politics behind as her five-year term comes to an end next week

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said that charity was just a small share of her work when fielding questions on TVM programme Xtra.

Coleiro Preca evinced some irritation at the "misconception" that the Malta Community Chest Fund was all that the president was involved in.

"The Malta Community Chest Fund represents just 5% of all the work I did during my presidency. I worked 80 hours a week. I'm not blaming the media for this misconception even though the media barely afforded a written line for the varied work I did," she said, adding that she was not trying to be presumptuous in knowing what a journalist finds sensational.

Coleiro Preca said that the demands on the Malta Community Chest Fund have increased drastically and, for this reason, it was not sustainable.

"We tapped into new funds with blockchain companies, for example," she said.

She added that people had to understand that the presidency was not executive and that the constitution restricted her powers at every turn.

The President described her most important work as engendering collaboration, uniting many NGOs and groups in many platforms to create dialogue, especially in terms of women's rights and cancer. 

She described her relationship with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as frank, saying that there were times were they were in wholehearted agreement, other times when they agreed less, and even some times when they disagreed completely.

"I am frank with everyone. I believe that honesty is the best policy. I was the same with Alfred Sant and Dom Mintoff. Very few people liked to disagree with Mintoff but I had no qualms with showing my disagreements," she said.

She described Muscat as having the great and agreeable quality of listening to everyone. She recalled having calm conversations with him and other times when the conversations where slightly more heated, describing the latter as normalcy.

Coleiro Preca said she would describe her relationship with members of the Opposition in the same way.

"One of the biggest issues right now is rent pricing," the president admitted. "It's causing many people to go poor and I believe that we should have studied the social impact more seriously before going forward."

She said that placing society and the economy on different planes was short-sightedness.

Coleiro Preca called for greater emphasis on targeting poor people with varied measures.

On whether she would re-enter the political area, Coleiro Preca said she was relieved that she was leaving the world of partisan politics and "tribalism" behind.

"I will still be political in terms of meeting people and helping with the Maltese quality of life, but I will not re-enter the political arena, no. You don't need to be a Joseph Muscat or an Eddie Fenech Adami to engender change. You can still advocate for change and pressure governments to action. Today, partisan politics is finished for me. I came from a political family and even when I was in the political world, I never looked at anyone's name or background," she said.

The next president, former Labour foreign minister George Vella will take the presidential oath of office on 4 April.

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