The Malta Independent 19 September 2020, Saturday

Watch: PM, again, promises accountability, meritocracy and transparency

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 4 May 2017, 09:12 Last update: about 4 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has promised accountability, meritocracy and transparency, just like he had done prior to the 2013 general elections.

The Prime Minister was asked by The Malta Independent whether he would repeat his 2013 general election pledge this time round. In response, Dr Muscat said “yes. We intend to work harder to put this into practice. We realise that we have made a lot of strides forward. We realise we have disappointed some people on this, we have learned from our mistakes and we will make sure we will better deliver.”

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Dr Muscat was addressing a press conference at the PL Headquarters.

The Prime Minister has been criticised heavily on this pledge over the past four years, after having failed to publish full contracts as parts remain blanked out, and for government taking its time with their publication.

Dr Muscat and his government have faced scandal after scandal with the largest being the ongoing Panama Papers situation. Recently, it was alleged that the Prime Minister's wife is the owner of the Panama company Egrant, an allegation which the Prime Minister denies. Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri have also been at the centre of the scandal, having acquired companies in Panama. It has also been alleged that Mr Schembri received kickbacks for the IIP scheme.

Told by this newsroom that the public should know now whether he will appoint Minister Mizzi to a Cabinet position if re-elected, and if he would keep Keith Schembri as his Chief of Staff or have him placed in another public position, the Prime Minister chose no to answer. "Those are decisions I will take, if elected, after the election once I see the crop of members of Parliament."

The Malta Independent also asked the Prime Minister  about the PL slogan; “the best time for our country”, and how he could say this when there are a number of issues at play, such as the current political divide, the sheer number of scandals over the past four years and the international press primarily speaking about these scandals.

In response, the Prime Minister said that he believes the best time for the country is still to come. “Obviously there are situations which I cannot control regarding when lies are said about me. I hope that when the truth comes out, then those who said things are tied to that truth. If I am not saying the truth about the case regarding me and my wife I will leave immediately and I ask the Opposition Leader to do the same if what he is saying is not true. Lately on the international media Transparency International said that the PN should be investigated on illicit use of EU funds.”

Turning to former PL Whip Godfrey Farrugia’s statement regarding his decision not to contest the general election with the Labour Party, the Prime Minister said: “I respect him and will never speak against him.  I respect his choice, I don’t agree with what he said but I wish him the best of luck for the future.”

Asked about Air Malta, he said that he does not plan to fire people, and stressed that government wants to find a strategic partner for the airline. He said that government saved Enemalta and in the same way will save Air Malta. He also said he trusts in the work of Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and said that the “situation will soon be made clear in this regard. Air Malta workers have a choice, between those who are trying to save it and those who broke it.”

On Day 4 of the electoral campaign, Muscat and finance minister Edward Scicluna addressed a press conference at the Labour Party’s headquarters, explaining the government’s financial projections for 2017-2022. The PL is arguing that, with the fiscal measures and infrastructural projects being pledged in its electoral manifesto, the country’s rate of economic growth will increase by a further 2% - 2.5% every year on top of the forecasted 4% in real terms

During the press conferece, the Prime Minister said that the Labour Party manifesto will be a celebration of ideas that will take the country to the next level.

Addressing the media, Dr Muscat said that Labour has presented five proposals in the financial sector and will continue to present more proposals in its election manifesto, which will not be a wishful thinking list but a group of measures that will be sustainable.

If nothing is done, Malta’s economic growth will fall from six per cent to four per cent, but we are not satisfied with this. But we want to go beyond this, the PM said, and this is why Labour is proposing a list of incentives that will make things better.

Photos & Video: Michael Camilleri

 

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