The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Government lost the plot on Covid-19, Bernard Grech says

Saturday, 26 September 2020, 13:18 Last update: about 27 days ago

The government lost the plot on how to tackle Covid-19, Bernard Grech said, and Malta is suffering the consequences of the decisions taken and the belittling of the situation.

Grech, who is contesting for the PN leadership with Adrian Delia, said that for many weeks the government was sending out the wrong message to the people. They were being told to enjoy the summer, but now we are suffering the repercussions of the government’s lack of planning and rushed decisions.

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Interviewed on the PN media by The Malta Independent editor-in-chief Neil Camilleri, Grech said that the government has also failed in being prepared for the reopening of schools. The decision to postpone the return of students to the classroom by at least a week shows lack of preparation.

On migration, Grech said that the security, health and serenity of the Maltese people must be given attention, but Malta also has international obligations that it must follow. When the government says that the country is full-up and cannot take in any more migrants, is it suggesting that people who are on sinking boats should be left to drown, Grech asked.

It is clear that the government does not have a strategy in place to tackle the migration phenomenon. We need to ensure better assistance from the EU on the matter and launch a battle against traffickers.

Grech said that the Individual Investor Programme had damaged Malta’s reputation and opened avenues that could be used for corrupt purposes. The cosmetic changes that were announced for a new programme will not improve the situation by much.

Asked about criticism by two ministers who accused him of not respecting quarantine rules, Grech said that he was never under mandatory quarantine. “I followed the rules,” he said.

Grech said that his family had made a choice to allow him to work as a lawyer and also for his wife to pursue her career in teaching. This is why, he said, he had declared an income of €28,000. He said he gave priority to the family and to be of assistance to his wife by working reduced hours so as to enable both parents to take part in the upbringing of the children. This is a positive message that other fathers should follow.

He said that the Tax Department had given him a letter in which it was declared that his tax dues had all been settled. Grech admitted that he had recognised his shortcomings but that the matter was now a closed chapter because his position had been regularised.

He denied that any members of his team had approached PBS journalist Ruth Amaira when she had been asked to moderate a debate between him and Delia. Amaira had never accepted, he said.

Grech added that, if elected leader, he was willing to work with Delia. It’s like a football game, he said. Both teams fight to win but afterwards they shake hands and move on. Most of all, the leadership race should be a victory for the country and the PN, not for Grech or Delia.

Grech said that what Delia had done on the Vitals case, and for the return of privatised hospitals to the public was to be commended. Gozitans had expressed their concern about the way the Gozo Hospital, one of the three that was privitatised by the Joseph Muscat government, was being run.

On prostitution, Grech said that he prefers to wait for a draft law before committing himself, saying that if elected leader he will hold a wide internal discussion before the party would take a stand.

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