Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi expressed his confidence that the PN stands a good chance to win the general election, urging party supporters to spread the word and convey the message that it is the only party with the right credentials to move the country forward.
Dr Gonzi was speaking at a PN mass meeting in Vjal il-Helsien in Zebbug, during which he struggled to project his voice as it got progressively hoarse. As a matter of fact his speech was relatively short and lasted about half an hour.
The PN leader described the crowd present as clear testament of the fact that the party is ready to face the electorate on the 9 of March.
He said that an election is won on merit, and one’s track record in job creation and the economy. Dr Gonzi remarked that since the last mass meeting in Mosta, Malta clinched a deal with the EU worth €1,128 million. He said that this deal was the result of long drawn negotiations in contrast with the fact that for the very first time the EU’s budget was cut. The prime minister said that this also proves Malta’s credibility on the international stage. He added that the only agent of change has always been the PN.
In his speech he emphasised that the remaining weeks of the campaign are crucial, warning disgruntled voters that they might regret their decision if they do not vote for the PN. He said that the PL’s reaction following Malta’s deal with the EU was an indifferent one. Dr Gonzi said that the PN is planning to use these funds for industry (€100 million), for small business and self-employed as well as to make the economy more competitive.
He said that the PN is pledging to cut income tax even for low income earners. The PN leader said that €200 million will be invested for tourism, for Gozo and to increase female participation rate at work.
On the other hand he warned that nobody knows Labour’s plan to create jobs. He asked those present, what are the reasons to trust Dr Muscat to run the country. He referred to Dr Muscat’s past in particular his stance against EU membership, and his support for the Labour administration which introduced 33 taxes in 22 months. Dr Gonzi accused the opposition leader of trying to hide the tough challenges ahead. He added that if the country unites a PN led government can move this country forward.
The PN leader said that Labour will only show its true colours after it is elected to government, like in 1996. On the contrary a PN government will increase pensions to compensate for inflation and allowances for disable people. The PN is also pledging another 3,000 scholarships.
Dr Gonzi said that this will only come through if the PN wins the general election. He said that Labour’s mask is falling off, referring to the well known events surrounding the interview given by former PL deputy leader Anglu Farrugia, the conversation involving GWU secretary general Tony Zarb and most recently the controversies surrounding Labour’s deputy leader for party affairs Toni Abela.
The PN leader said that these issues are very serious, since Dr Abela could be forming part of the country’s administration in a matter of weeks. He said that the case involving drug trafficking in a Labour party club is much more serious and shocking.
“If this is the change Labour wants to bring about, we would rather not have a change at all”, he said.
Dr Gonzi said that rather than act responsibly and report the case to the police, Labour’s deputy leader decided to hide this incident not to tarnish the party’s reputation. He added that the Labour leader must also shoulder his responsibility for defending Dr Abela.
The PN leader said that in contrast with Labour, a PN led government has taken immediate action to fight corruption, including the granting of a presidential pardon.
The prime minister said that a Labour government will endanger the integrity of the country’s institutions.
Dr Gonzi urged those present to convey the message, that only party who can move the country forward with a good track record in hand is the PN.
“The only party on which one can lay his mind to rest is the PN” the prime minister retorted. He remarked that if everyone does his part the party can gradually step up its efforts in the final weeks of the campaign, and win the election.
Those staying at home will be voting for Labour - Busuttil
PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil said that in three weeks time the electorate will have to make a choice of which party is fit to run the country between Lawrence Gonzi and Joseph Muscat.
He said that the electorate must choose which party is best to move forward in education and healthcare. Appealing to disgruntled voters he said that even those who do not want to see Joseph Muscat in power have no choice rather than vote PN. He said that everyone has the duty to cast his or her vote.
Dr Busuttil remarked that since the last mass meeting, two weeks ago there were major developments which the electorate must take stock of. He referred to the deal clinched during the EU summit, which saw Malta get €1,128 million for the next seven years, meaning that since 2004 the country has received more than €2 billion. The PN deputy leader said that this is contrary to what the PL used to say in 2003 when it had forecast that Malta would only get Lm1.5 million each year.
Dr Busuttil said that this deal was no coincidence but the result of hard work, and the good negotiating skills of Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.
He said that it would be a pity to throw away all this hard work, if Labour gets elected to government. He said that the electorate must give the thumbs to Lawrence Gonzi who was able to get such a good deal for the country.
In his speech Dr Busuttil branded last week as the best so far in this election campaign for the PN. He referred to the party’s vision and proposals for education including “a tablet for all students”, stipends and more investment in better facilities.
The PN deputy leader said that it is only the PN which can guarantee and keep its word on education. He reiterated that more than ever students and first-time voters are crucial for the final outcome of this general election.
“Since your future is at stake you must persuade undecided voters to vote PN who is the party of opportunities for youth”, he said. He concluded his message expressing his confidence that the electorate will rally around the PN’s cause”.