The Malta Independent 23 January 2021, Saturday

‘If the PM wants to be petty, I won't judge him, the electorate will’ – Roberta Metsola

Karl Azzopardi Monday, 23 November 2020, 08:46 Last update: about 3 months ago

PN MEP Roberta Metsola said that if the Prime Minister wants to be petty, she will not judge him, but the electorate will.

She was answering a question, in an interview with The Malta Independent, about about the controversy that arose around the fact that Prime Minister Robert Abela did not congratulate her on being elected First Vice President of the EP.

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On 12 November, Metsola replaced Mairead McGuinness (who became European Commissioner) as First Vice President of the EP after being nominated by the European People’s Party and then unanimously elected by all political groups.

There are 14 vice-presidents within the European Parliament but Metsola’s role is the second highest in the European Parliament and it is the most senior role ever occupied by a Maltese.  

Yet, PM Abela has not congratulated Metsola on this achievement which has given rise to a lot of controversy considering that this is a historical moment for Maltese politics and that other politicians have shared their regards already.

When asked by the media, Abela said that his refusal to congratulate the First Vice President relates to “the siege, the crusade, she has made on the citizenship through investment program, were we definitely cannot ever have convergence.”

Metsola has already clapped back saying; “who Robert Abela congratulates is up to him. But that he is too weak, too insecure, too blinkered, to see beyond his Labour Party brief.” She has also joked about it on social media.

During an interview with The Malta Independent she was asked if she thinks that this is a serious issue, especially when considering this government’s emphasis of promoting women in politics.

“First of all, I feel that you should ask the PM that. I am a person who takes a lot in their stride, but I wanted this election to be a sign to all women in Malta that if I achieved it (someone who comes from a family with no political background, no resources and so on), everybody can,” Metsola said.

She believes that this goes above and beyond politics and she would have liked for this to be the message. She noted that there have been people who got the message such as Maltese President George Vella who was one of the first people she met after her election with whom she had a discussion on this and how they can achieve a better reputation for Malta on an international or European scale. Cabinet Ministers of the PL have also messaged her with congratulations and calls for collaborations.

“This makes me think; ‘look if the PM wants to be petty, surely, I won't judge him, I think the electorate will’."

‘Abuse should not be justified by the money that is made’

She was also asked if she believes that Malta should do away with its citizenship by investment scheme, despite Abela saying that it had its benefits.

As regards citizenship by investment scheme, Metsola said that politicians have to stick with their principals and, in this case, she has made it very clear that she does not think Malta’s citizenship should be sold.

Metsola believes that schemes like this can be abused and are non-transparent – “the government made it its mission to not be transparent. That abuse should not be justified by the money that is made.”

She supported her argument against the scheme by referring to the negative consequences and connotations it resulted in such as the Moneyval report and the difficulties expat companies have with opening business in Malta.

She said that Malta could refocus how it gets foreign direct investment, rethink taxation policies and allow local companies to benefit from taxation advantages, give more attention to Gozo and promote accessibility and digital innovation.

“This would all regenerate money in our economy. When I am asked about how I think the economy should be generated, the last thing I think about is using schemes that can be abused by people who do not have the country's best interest at heart. I am against selling our citizenship to people who have zero link to the country.”

“Also, I need to say; this latest renewed attack by a PM who promised new politics when he was elected, unlike his predecessor, this decision (to open an infringement proceeding and an investigation into the Maltese citizenship scheme) that was blamed on me and my colleague David Casa in the EP, was actually taken by the European Commission. In that College of Commissioners there is Helena Dalli (EU Commissioner for Equality), so perhaps you should ask her why as a representative of the PL she agreed to it.”

 

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