The Opposition has presented a motion of no confidence in the government, with PN leader Simon Busuttil saying that the country cannot continue to be led by a government embroiled in the Panama Papers scandal.
In a statement, the government said it noted the Opposition's motion and is proposing to discuss it next week.
Addressing the media, Dr Busuttil said that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat failed to dismiss Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and his chief of staff Keith Schembri, and the egoism of these three people is now having a negative effect on the country’s economy. Only the resignation of Muscat can return the country to normality. Mizzi has already become irrelevant due to the damage he caused to the country. For Mizzi to leave is not enough, Muscat must go too, Dr Busuttil said.
Muscat has taken us to the brink and our international reputation has been sullied, Dr Busuttil said. How can Muscat defend the financial services sector when his closest people have been caught preferring other jurisdictions.
The bad publicity Malta is getting in the international media because of this scandal leading to economic uncertainty. The people are angry that the government has not lifted a finger on the situation. Instead, the prime minister had chosen to defend both Mizzi and Schembri when it is known that they had opened secret companies in Panama.
Dr Busuttil said the presentaion of the motion of no confidence should not be seen as an attempt to have an early election. But the fact remains that Dr Muscat's involvement in the issue, as well as the fact that his two closest allies are deeply embroiled in this international scandal, means that Dr Muscat can no longer continue to lead the government.
He mentioned the press statement issued by the Malta Employers Association which expressed concern about the threat to 9,000 jobs in the financial services industry. This is extremely worrying, he said, and this is also why the PN is organising a mass demonstration on Sunday. Maltese companies who have approached the PN are concerned that they may lose contacts and contracts because of this situation.
He said that he understood that the Opposition has fewer members in the House, but the PN feels it should be responsible enough to make such a move because the situation has gone from bad to worse. He appealed to Labour MPs of goodwill to join the PN in its call, and said that he had spoken to independent MP Marlene Farrugia to inform her about the PN's move. Dr Farrugia had also hinted that she could be presenting a vote of no confidence in the government.
Asked about whether it would be enough for Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri to resign tonight, or very soon, Dr Busuttil said that it would not be enough, because Dr Muscat had chosen them personally.
He said that Mr Schembri was chosen personally by the Prime Minister, and that Dr Muscat chose Dr Mizzi to be the Minister of extremely prominent portfolios. It therefore shows an error of judgement, and that Dr Muscat’s position is no longer tenable, he said.
How can we take over the presidency of the European Union at a time when Malta is involved in such a scandal, Dr Busuttil said.
The PN motion states:
"The government is at present caught in a crisis of corruption that has now become a political crisis.
"This crisis is causing damage to the country's image and economy, particularly the financial services sector.
"The country cannot remain in this situation of uncertainty.
"It is in the national interest that the country will no longer be led by a government caught in a corruption crisis.
"It is in the national interest that the people of Malta and Gozo return to stability.
"The House should resolve that it has no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Muscat.
"This decision is to be communicated to the President of Malta."