The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

We will not allow anyone to tarnish this government with corruption - Joseph Muscat

Noel Grima Sunday, 19 July 2015, 11:56 Last update: about 4 years ago

Speaking in an otherwise normal Sunday morning interview on One Radio, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat today gave a blunt warning: "We will not allow anyone, whoever, to tarnish this government with corruption."

Dr Muscat did not specify who he was referring to, if he was referring to anyone at all, nor was the context referring to any case in particular.

Dr Muscat was being interviewed by Dinah Seguna.

He was first asked about job creation, considering that in two and a half years more jobs have been created than in the previous five years.

The Labour leader said that while in Opposition Labour had promised to do better, and it is doing better. It will not stop here; it will take decisions. This is a government that is not satisfied with doing the bare minimum.

It was criticised for the Investment Citizenship programme but this is working and part of the jobs that have increased owe their creation to it.

It was criticised for reducing electricity rates and for changing the power station from oil to gas but these two measures contribute to job creation.

"I prefer to be criticised for doing something than for doing nothing," Dr Muscat said.

Among the issues coming up he listed pensions and Air Malta.

Sixteen new jobs are being created every day and no less than 760 jobs have been created in Gozo.

Nor is it true that these new jobs were in the government sector: the percentage of people employed with the government stood at 26.7% of general employment before the election and stands now at 26.2%.

 

Enemalta

Dr Muscat was asked his opinion on the Standard & Poor's upward reclassification of Enemalta announced on Friday.

He reminded listeners that in March 2013, S&P's rating was negative: it had no future. This is the negative inheritance this government got from the previous one. In fact, Enemalta's state was so bad that Dr Simon Busuttil had used its state as an argument to downplay the Labour proposal to reduce rates.

Since then, under this administration, Enemalta was rated as stable and now as positive because of the Chinese investment by Shanghai Electric.

Dr Busuttil, in his recent visit to China, had met the Shanghai Electric people. Did he tell them he had told the Maltese people there would now be Chinese fingers on the light switch?

The S&P upgrade was due not really to the Chinese taking a minority shareholding stake but rather because Enemalta now has investment and plans.

Dr Muscat also referred to a power cut that happened in the past days and said this was due to lack of investment by the preceding administration in infrastructure and distribution networks.

There is still work to be done and there are still people out of a job and working under a precarious contract.

 

Huawei Memorandum of Understanding

Asked about the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Huawei last week, Dr Muscat termed criticism of this MOU as 'sour grapes'.

Huawei is the biggest company in this sector in the world; bigger than Apple and Nokia. Its profit is some $47 bilion a year - in two years it could solve Greece's bailout.

This government had succeeded in attracting Huawei's attention  because it boosted the resources in China, where previously its depleted forces in the Beijing embassy had to cope with visa requests friom all over Asia. 

The MOU signed with them opens the way to an initial investment of $20 million and the opening of an office in Malta, which will be at Smart City.

Attracting the investment was the work of Jose Herrera, (MGA chairman) Joseph Cuschieri and Sai Mizzi as well as Ernst & Young.

Malta will be used by Huawei for data recovery and as a test base for 5G.

3G is the technology most of us use, with email and messaging options. 4G enables people to watch videos such as YouTube

5G which will kick off as from 2020 enables a completely new range of options, such as starting your washing machine by mobile, machines speaking to each other and cars speaking to each other.

This is teh first agreement Huawei signed with a government.

Some have worried it could take work from the three providers in Malta but this is nonsense as Huawei will not be an Internet provider. It is more on the level of Apple or Nokia.

A Huawei CEO has already spoken of the advantage of taking students from the University of Malta and soon the American university in their schemes.

Terming Dr Busuttil's remarks in this regard as 'childish' Dr Muscat said the PL Opposition had shown better maturity when the previous PN administration brought in Microsoft.

 

Party financing

The next theme tackled by Dr Muscat regaded the Bill for the Financing of Parties.

Much work has been done in this regard by Minister Owen Bonnici and, in the previous legislature, by Franco Debono.

The government's approach in this regard was triple-pronged.

It has removed prescription with regards to politicians who are now liable to proceedings for what they did while in office. This was when Dr Muscat uttered the words as found at the beginning of this article.

Next, the government passed the Whistleblower's Act through which people with anything to reveal not just about the preceding administration but also with regards to this one are protected.

Lastly there is this Party Financiong Bill. The government has soft-pedalled in this regard because the Opposition had financial problems but it was hypocritical of the Opposition, who did nothing about this issue for so long a time, to say they did not trust the Electoral Commission to handle the financing of parties. If they trusted the Commission with the counting of votes, why not trust it with the finances of parties?

Dr Muscat also claimed some words used by Dr Busuttil with regards to the credibility of accountants and auditors should draw reactions from these self-disciplining bodies.

Candidates will now be able to spend more on an election campaign, but if they are caught out infringing the rules they can be disqualfiied from sitting in Parliament.

 

The Greek bailout

Finally, Dr Muscat was asked for his opinion on the Greek bailout.

It would have been in Gereece's interest to sign the agreement reached with the Commission three weeks ago. Instead, the Greek government rejected that deal and in the subsequent referendum more than 60% of Greek voters rejected it as well. After that, the situation in Greece deteriorated badly and people were suffering.

At last weekend's summit, Malta was adamant in rejecting any haircut even though it allowed that repayment times could be lengthened.

Dr Muscat still feels the deal reached wiill not work. 

The Greek parliament voted in favour of three bills on Wednesday and must vote for a further package of three laws this coming Wednesday.

What worries him is who will be the one to implement these votes once the Greek government has washed its hands of them?

The coming months, Dr Muscat said in conclusion, will be exciting ones with November seeing first the EU-African summit with the presence of all heads of government at the EU member states and all heads of government of 58 African countries. Two weeks after this, there will be CHOGM including the visit by the Queen

Finally, he remarked that ever since Parliament started to be televised, it has lost the aura of friendliness that existed in the other House and MPs have become belligerent and playing up. Some people have been acting like bullies and there has been much name-calling. MPs must understand that now with people watching them, they ought to set an example.

 

PN reaction

In an almost instant reaction, PN said that it was Labour who had bullies such as Konrad Mizzi, Joe Mizzi, Ian Borg and Edward Zammit Lewis. And in his long interview, Dr Muscat did not mentiojn the allegation in the Times that Gaffarena, the man involved in the Strait Stree scandal is now min negotiations to puirchase another property in Valletta.

 

 

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