Leader of the Opposition, Dr Simon Busuttil, today continued his barrage of condemnation of the government, and more specifically, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, focusing on the NAO report and giving more details about the Gaffarena case. Speaking at a party conference in Sannat, Dr Busuttil referred to the government as 'Mafia from Castille' and the NAO report itself as 'a Mafia story'.
Echoing the press conference outside Parliament on Wednesday, Dr Busuttil reiterated that "the NAO report confirms that Joseph Muscat's government is in a crisis of corruption" also quoting the report itself with "The NAO deems this collusive action highly inappropriate".
The PN leader gave more details about the Gaffarena case, which was the reason for MP Michael Falzon to resign from his position as Parliamentary Secretary. He explained the case as Mr Gaffarena saw a house in Valletta, which was already used and occupied by the government, and planned to buy a quarter and then reselling it to the government.
Dr Busuttil continued by saying that it is not uncommon for the government to expropriate land and give compensation to the owners, but in this case, it was Gaffarena who bought the land and told the government to buy it from him for a higher value.
Mr Gaffarena received €500,000 in cash, 43 acres in land and property in Sliema which, according to the report were undervalued when traded for the property in Valletta which was actually overvalued. Dr Busuttil called this "theft from what belongs to the Maltese Public".
Dr Busuttil asked "Where was the Police Commissioner?" when the investigation took place last week, when information had been leaked about the case back in May 2015. He answered the question by saying that the Economic Crimes Unit, which should have been investigating, is run by people who are currently in negotiation with Mr Gaffarena.
"Gaffarena has the Lands Department, Castille and the Police in his hands."
The leader of the Opposition finally pointed out that Mr Falzon's resignation is just an act to fool the people into thinking that the government is taking action, however the full responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Prime Minister as he was the Minister under which the Former Parliamentary Secretary, Michael Falzon, was acting.
In reaction to comments made by the Prime Minister that the issues at the Lands Department have been going on since the previous PN administration, Dr Busuttil replied "Stop lying and admit that these things happened under this [PL] government]". He also called the investigation which Prime Minister Muscat launched "a surreal situation" because, since he is the minister responsible, it is as if the Prime Minister has filed a case against himself. This case, according to Dr Busuttil, is a case doomed to failure due to the legal flaws within its structure, so much so that it is as if it was "designed to be lost".
Dr Simon Busuttil ended his speech pointing out that the people are paying for the corruption which "the government is drowning in" mentioning that petrol prices are exactly double what they should be, since they should be as low as in 2003, where one litre of petrol cost 61c, but instead people are currently paying €1.22. He also mentioned pensions and salaries not being high enough to manage, cancer medicine having to be paid for or people needing to "beg the president" for them.
Next week, the PN will be presenting a document on good governance to the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD), in which there will be an explanation as to why the PN is an alternative to the current government.
Dr Busuttil reiterated that PN is offering "honest, clean and correct politics".
In reaction, the PL replied that just "when you think Simon Busuttil has reached maximum negativity, another occasion arises for him to supersede his own record by being more destructive." Adding also that Dr Busuttil, in his speech, "hysterically" attacked the Attorney General and put pressure on the courts, posing the question, "Why is Simon Busuttil afraid of letting institutions work of their own volition?"
In their statement, the PL have also stated that "there is no doubt left that Simon Busuttil has taken the PN to new, never before seen, lows after calling the PL 'dirty' and 'mafia' and boasting about knowing how to fight the government."
The statement ended by pointing out a clear contrast between a "negative leader of the opposition who is seemingly ready to attack everyone", and a "positive Prime Minister who is working towards more positive changes enabling Malta to move forward both economically and socially."