The Malta Independent 1 March 2021, Monday

PN is looking forward to beating this pandemic and facing a general election – Bernard Grech

Shona Berger Sunday, 21 February 2021, 13:34 Last update: about 7 days ago

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said on Sunday that the Nationalist Party is looking forward to getting out of this pandemic as soon as possible in order to face a general election. 

“Let us give people a chance to choose a better future,” he said. 

Speaking during a political event in Rabat, Gozo, Grech urged the public to make a sacrifice now in order to beat this pandemic and return to a more normal and serene life.  

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Towards the end of his speech, Grech made reference to the Covid-19 pandemic and said that “in recent days, the government has adopted our proposals in pandemic management including the use of GPs and community pharmacies in the vaccination programs.” 

The Nationalist party reiterated the need for greater efficiency in contact tracing as it said that it is currently collapsing. 

“The government also has an obligation to be more cautious as it has now been established that we are facing yet another variant of South Africa,” he said. 

Speaking about Gozo, Grech remarked that the island continues to overflow with potential, enthusiasm, and is growing in support of the Nationalist Party. 

He said that “the renewal of the PN is also continuing in Gozo because in the last three weeks, we have had 68 section committees both in Malta and Gozo – 14 of them in Gozo.” 

The Nationalist Party considers Gozo as an island region, thus work is currently underway to complete reports requested by PN Leader Grech on the socio-economic situation of Gozo. This is being done through work coordinated by the Regional Committee and the Deputies and candidates of the PN in Gozo, Grech said. 

Opposition Leader Grech remarked that a regional council for Gozo with executive powers that would be elected by Gozitans should be created. This would be beneficial as it would strengthen the regional status of the island, giving residents the power to take certain decisions rather than the power being centred in government. 

Speaking about the 3,500 Gozitans who are working in Malta, Grech highlighted that before the 2013 election, the Labour party said that it will create a number of jobs for Gozitans in Gozo itself. 

“The party failed miserably in implementing this promise. Thus, the Nationalist party will be discussing ways of creating good quality work with good wages, and not precarious work with the minimum wage in Gozo for Gozitan residents, ” he said. 

In addition, the Nationalist party had tabled a motion to set up a Parliamentary Committee for Gozo. Grech said that the Labour party had no choice but to vote in favour of this motion, however, it tried to stop this committee by not meeting for five months. 

“After I spoke about this matter a few weeks ago in Nadur, an informal meeting was called and the deputies of the PN insisted that the accessibility of Gozo is to be put on the agenda. I am informed that a discussion will begin on this subject within the committee on 1 March,” he said. 

Grech explained that PN MPs within this committee had suggested an initiative which entails Gozitan workers in Malta to be given a minimum of two days a week of teleworking. 

“Although the Gozitan Labour MPs showed their support towards this proposal, the former Minister of Finance Edward Scicluna ignored it completely as it was not included in the budget for the year 2021,” Grech said. 

He added that “a government led by the Nationalist party will make sure to see to it that wherever possible, Gozitan workers in Malta must be given at least two days a week teleworking. This would be an obligation on the director, head of department or public authority to implement this. This incentive will also be implemented and accessible for employers within the private sector.” 

Nadur land registrations 

Speaking about land registration in Nadur, Grech remarked that after meeting with a number of families in Nadur he learnt that these people are rightly worried because what they have worked for all their lives has come to nothing. 

Grech took aim at Prime Minister Robert Abela, who around a year ago had promised these people that he would find a solution. “A year passed and nothing was done. Meanwhile, the worries of these families have only increased,” Grech said. 

“The Opposition will be ensuring that a solution is found as we will continue to exert all the pressure and give our support where necessary. If the government remains unresolved on this matter, we will be ensuring that as soon as the PN is in government a serious investigation will be carried out. With the slightest failure found, the registration will be withdrawn, and if necessary, amendments to the law will be made.” 

With regards to the energy sector, the Nationalist Party has put forward a number of proposals that will change the fate of this country. 

Grech explained that these changes have two main purposes. Firstly, they are there to improve the lives in this country at present. These proposals will lead to a reduction in electricity bills, thus families will have more money in their pockets. 

The second purpose is mainly aimed at the next generation. Grech remarked that “our country is currently the last when it comes to the use of renewable energy. This should not only be a present concern, but it is an even greater concern for our children.” 

“Unlike others, our plan makes sense for the whole country, not just for those who only focus on thickening their pockets and lead the country to a grip of corruption.” 

The plan within the energy sector is built on six pillars. These include a policy based on the cheapest source, preference towards energy efficiency, long-term alternatives to power generation, transformation to electricity transport, second interconnector with Europe and lastly, wind-generated energy. 

“Our intention is to begin a process of consultation with the constituted bodies, the social partners, and all those who in one way or another have an interest in the future of our country. The pillars should serve as a guide where we are seeing that our country should go from tomorrow, until the next 30 years,” he said. 

With regards to cannabis, Grech remarked that the Nationalist party is in favour of helping those who fall into the misery of drug addiction, and as was done in 2015, the party is in favour of discussing measures to decriminalise cannabis possession for responsible personal use. 

Grech reiterated that any legislation must be part of a national plan that addresses the growing problem of drug and substance abuse, and proposes measures to stop this abuse.

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