General Election
PM – Rents and housing will be first priority for new Labour Government

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has stated that if he is again shown the people’s confidence he will start talks with the social partners immediately after the election to implement the promise to give back public holidays falling on a weekend. Other priorities of a new Government will be a reform in rents and projects for social accommodation. Interviewed on DISSETT the Prime Minister also stated that if the Labour Party were to lose the election he would resign immediately as leader. Dr Muscat pointed out that he will be at a disadvantage in next month’s election because of the calumny being spread against him and his wife.

On Dissett the Labour Party leader explained his actions and what he expected from others after the conclusion of the inquiry by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja on allegations regarding the Egrant company. After insisting that the allegations were a calumny, Dr Muscat said that if the inquiry finds anything against him or his wife he would leave immediately. On the other hand, he added, if it results that the allegations are untrue, the Opposition leader should resign, even as an MP.

“If he is Prime Minister I will expect him to resign from this position, if he is Opposition leader he will have to resign, and if he is an MP he will also have to resign. He will also have to make a public apology for this calumny,” Dr Muscat stated.

Dr Muscat said that all this effected him, his family and the country, and the people had therefore to decide between him and Simon Busuttil. Dr Muscat referred to signs of uncertainty in the economic rhythm, among them signs of a drop in sales and cancellation of promises of sale, which had led him to decide to call an election.

Asked what he would do if any inkling of corruption would be found in regard to his Chief of Staff, Dr Muscat replied that Schembri would have to assume responsibility and would have to leave.

Asked, in the event of his winning the election, whether he would re-appoint Mr Schembri as Chief of Staff, Dr Muscat said that his present focus was on the elections, and these decisions would be taken later.

“Keith and I have no obligation towards each other,” Dr Muscat stated.

Asked if, after what had emerged in the Panama Papers, Konrad Mizzi would be re-appointed Minister,the Prime Minister stated that if Dr Mizzi is re-elected, he would consider the situation and decide about him. He added that he was convinced that if he had removed Konrad Mizzi from Minister during this legislature, he would have benefited politically, but the country came before politics and he was convinced that Konrad Mizzi was the person to implement the energy project.  Dr Muscat added that even if Simon Busuttil is elected Prime Minister he has decisions to take.

“By the same token, Simon Busuttil should tell us who he will appoint as Deputy Prime Minister. He should also tell us whether Beppe Fenech Adami, who is being investigated on connections with a company involved in laundering drug money,  would be part of his Cabinet, as his allegations are much more serious,” the Prime Minister added.

Five days after the resignation of Godfrey Farrugia from the post of Party Whip, Dr Muscat said he intended meeting with him in the coming days, and irrespective of whatever Dr Farrugia might decide, he would continue to respect him. Questioned about Marlene’s invitation for a debate in Zurrieq, Dr Muscat said he debated with the Opposition leader. Dr Muscat also stated he had confidence in the Commissioner of Police and in the country’s institutions. He added that the Circular by the head of the Civil Service regarding engagements in the public service during this month up to the election is exactly the same as the one issued by Lawrence Gonzi before the last election, something which he had not criticised as he believed the public service should not be interrupted for a whole month.

On the third day of the electoral campaign Dr Muscat said the difference between the main political parties has continued to emerge: the Nationalist Party is only speaking about suspicions, and the Labour Party is coming out with concrete proposals which are properly worked out and which can be supported by the Maltese economy.

In a series of questions about a new Government led by him, Dr Muscat did not commit himself about the size of the Cabinet of Ministers, but said priorities would be different. Dr Muscat mentioned four: social housing, the property market, agriculture, and certain sectors of economic growth which need more attention. Regarding housing Dr Muscat admitted that Government had moved slowly in the last four years. The Prime Minister said that a sector in which a Labour Government would have to roll up its sleeves would be to counter the damage to the financial services as a result of the irresponsibility which he said had been shown by the Opposition. Also, if elected to Government, the Prime Minister had no plans for the moment regarding an amnesty for prisoners, as had been the case after the last election.

 

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