The Malta Independent 14 October 2019, Monday

Busuttil accuses government of outright theft at fuel pumps, saying prices should be halved

Sunday, 14 February 2016, 11:56 Last update: about 5 years ago

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil today accused the government of outright theft at the petrol pumps, saying that for every €30 of diesel a motorist purchases, the government pockets half of it.

Speaking during a radio interview on Radio 101, he said that oil prices today are the same that they were 12 years ago, yet fuel costs double. He also delved into the Gaffarena scandal once more and demanded that the police investigate Castille's role in the approval of the Old Mint Street €3.5 million deal.

The opposition leader said he was going to put a number of questions for the government to answer, the same questions he has been asking for nigh on four weeks. "But it's not just me asking these questions, everyone is asking them," he said.

Dr Busuttil asked whether the Prime Minister knew of what was going on in the Old Mint Street Gaffarena deal before the €3.5 million property and cash payment deal was pushed through.

"I also ask whether the police have begun to investigate Castille. There is definitely a strong whiff of corruption. The National Audit Office said there was collusion, it mentioned Falzon by name as being involved in the deal. When is this investigation going to start? The Police Commissioner has a duty towards the people to get to the bottom of this, and I urge him to do so," said Dr Busuttil. He also questioned the police 'visit' to the Lands Department, where employees were bundled out into a yard while police took files for 'safekeeping'.

"I also ask the question, has Gaffarena greased any palms in this whole process. Has he paid anyone any money in connection with this deal," asked Dr Busuttil.

Fuel prices

Dr Busuttil accused the government of outright theft when it came to the prices of fuel that motorists are having to fork out for. "On Saturday, we held a press conference outside Gaffarena's petrol station. That station was not given a permit under the previous government, but this one. We are all paying for the corruption that is taking place," he said.

The opposition leader said that the price of oil today is the same as what it was 12 years ago. "At the time, we used to pay 61 cents for a litre of diesel. Now, we are paying double, €1.22 per litre. If you put €30 worth of diesel into your car every week, the government is pocketing half of it... €15," he said.  He said that oil is trading at less than 30 dollars a barrel.  "It has gone down from $140 to 30, so I have questions there. "Why do we need a new power station? Why are bills not even cheaper than promised?"

He said that Dr Muscat's explanation of keeping fuel prices fixed to keep stability is absolute nonsense and an insult to people's intelligence.

Dr Busuttil said that the government had no qualms in doing this, while at the same time giving €3.5 million to Gaffarena, issuing a €4 million bailout for Cafe Premier, and giving the €10 million valued Australia Hall to the Labour Party.

Judiciary selection

Dr Busuttil also spoke about the opposition's motion in parliament calling for an overhaul in the way the judiciary are selected. "We did it because there was clear abuse of power by the government in the nomination of two people to the bench. Abuse of power has become a hallmark of this government and we see it every day," he said.

The opposition leader said that the government can try to sugar-coat the incident, but at the end of the day, the Constitution was breached because the two people in question were not even eligible to be nominated. He said that it was either a show of incompetence, or a show that the government just wants to look after its own ends. "One of the people was ineligible because they sat on the Employment Commission and the other, till this day, does not have the required law practice experience benchmark of seven years. This is clearly a case of jobs because of familial connections, or the government trying to secure more favour," he said.

Dr Busuttil said that Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has been 'bluffing'for the past three years about this reform and pointed out that the PN had done in three days what the government had not done in three years.

He said that more separation of powers are needed. "The very least that the government can do is suspend all nomination to the bench until this motion is debated in parliament," he said.

 EU funds

Dr Busuttil said that government bungling in the administration of EU funds was costing Maltese taxpayers money, as well as tarnishing Malta's good name in Europe. "Take the €11 million lost in the Coast Road project. Someone has to pay for that, and that is all of us. The government said that it is no issue because the funds will be administered elsewhere. The EU does not work like that, you cannot simply spend money where you like," he said.

He labelled the whole thing as yet another show of incompetence, this time from Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg. He also levelled criticism at Transport Minister Joe Mizzi, dubbing him the Traffic Minister. He said that he was the first to admit that the service introduced by the previous administration was lacking. "But after all the pomp and fanfare in the election campaign, this government has made it worse," he said, adding that people cannot even plan a journey because you never know when your bus will turn up or how long it will take to get to your destination.

He also said that Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi was another incompetent Minister who cannot deliver on what the government promised. "Three years down the line, we are still waiting for the powerstation to materialise, against the main battle cry of the Labour Party in the last election campaign to have it completed within two years.

He also said that Dr Muscat's grip on the Labour Party was now complete. "He literally appointed Mizzi to be his deputy. All this government cares about is money and power. The Labour Party has sold its soul. It is no longer the party of the workers," he said.


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