The Malta Independent 18 October 2021, Monday

‘The PL knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing’ – Bernard Grech

Albert Galea Sunday, 19 September 2021, 13:41 Last update: about 29 days ago

PN leader Bernard Grech has said that the price of some of his party’s electoral proposals has to be calculated on how they will improve people’s health and wellbeing, not in monetary terms.

Grech was interviewed by Colin Deguara, a journalist from the Labour Party’s media house ONE TV, although Grech said that he had initially invited Pjazza host Karl Stagno Navarra to come on the media house’s behalf.

Grech was grilled particularly on the costings pertaining to some of the party’s proposals – particularly proposals to buy the Hondoq ir-Rummien area and to all cancer treatment and medicines free of charge.

Asked how much Hondoq would cost, Grech did not give a figure, saying that it was impossible to price such a purchase from beforehand, saying that this is a “political choice” and that the price of such an area is people’s health.

Likewise, when it came to being asked about the price of the increase in cancer treatment – a question which the audience greeted with a sense of disbelief – Grech said that this is a matter of the health of the people.

“People’s lives have no price.  That’s what the PL doesn’t understand.  The PL knows the price of everything, but doesn’t know the value of anything.  I don’t want anyone to have to beg to save his life,” Grech said.

“The PL has become so negative that they are finding problems in every solution which we propose,” Grech said with a smile – a purposeful choice of words given how one of the main critiques of his party was its perceived negativity.

Asked on other subjects, Grech skirted around a question on whether the PN would introduce all types of IVF treatment, including surrogacy, with the PN leader saying that a Nationalist government would make medicines related to IVF free.

He stopped short of answering on surrogacy however, saying that one cannot make suppositions on things which aren’t laws yet.

‘I look him in the eye and discuss how we can improve our country’ – Grech on predecessor Delia

Grech fielded questions which centred around his predecessor Adrian Delia, with Deguara asking whether Grech is ashamed to look Adrian Delia in the eye after a campaign of personal attacks led to his removal from the PN leadership spot.

“I never led any political attacks against him; I meet Adrian Delia, I look him in the eye and we discuss how we can work better for the good of the party and the country as a whole”, Grech said to what would be the first standing ovation from the party fateful present.

However, Grech did admit that an agreement had not been reached on the second electoral district which Delia will contest in in the upcoming general election.

Delia has already himself confirmed that he will be contesting in the 8th district, which includes Birkirkara – his hometown and the football club he was President of for a number of years, but there hasn’t been any indication on where else he will be contesting.

“I want Adrian Delia to contest on a particular district… we will work on what is best for the party in the circumstances,” Grech said, citing his own decision to contest on the 5th district – not traditionally a PN stronghold – as an example of that.

“I’m not happy yet, no,” Grech admitted when pushed on confirming that there was no agreement yet.

Tax authorities started investigating me after I addressed PN rally in 2017, Grech says

Finally, asked about his issues with the taxman – which gathered much coverage prior to his election as PN leader – Grech said that he had actually settled his tax dues a year and a half prior to him contesting.

“When I had these issues, they were there was a language school for whom we were hosting students which didn’t have the necessary permits – something I didn’t know about.  There were contestations and I settled the dues a year and a half before I went up for the leadership post,” he said.

“When I went to pick up the certificate from the taxman to present it before submitting my bid for leadership, there was another amount pending which I didn’t know about.  I contested it, but when a day, a week, two weeks, and three passed – because someone in Castille was controlling how the authorities were acting – I paid the dues so I could get the certificate: a certificate which Robert Abela does not have,” he continued.

“Do you know when they started investigating me? Right after I got onto the PN’s stage to address a meeting in 2017.  That’s when they started.  That’s what the PL does – it tries to break you,” he added.

“You spoke about the country’s reputation – the only way we can get that back is with a PN government,” he concluded.

President is ‘speaking our language’ - Grech

Asked about whether he would consider a coalition with ADPD – like the PN had done with PD in 2017 – Grech said he doesn’t need coalitions. 

Asked whether he still speaks to former PN leader Simon Busuttil – another question greeted by audience derision – Grech said that he had last messaged him three weeks ago, much like he communicates with other MPs and with the Prime Minister as well.

Asked whether he agreed with calls for the resignation of President George Vella in the aftermath of the conclusions of the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death, Grech said that the PN had said that those who were part of Joseph Muscat’s Cabinet – such as Manuel Mallia or Edward Scicluna – should not have a public role, but that the party had voted in favour of Vella becoming President.

“As long as he continues to represent the will of the people, like he did recently where he had to courage to go to visit the site of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, we are speaking the same language,” Grech said.

Grech was briefly asked about the Chamber of Advocates’ decision to bring Jason Azzopardi before the Justice Commission for his behaviour to Judge Giovanni Grixti – wherein, while Grixti was deliberating on a bail request by Yorgen Fenech, he revealed that Grixti had bought a boat from Yorgen Fenech’s father

“The Commission will decide, then we will take a decision accordingly, but I have no qualms with taking any decision, unlike the PL with Rosianne Cutajar, Carmelo Abela, and Edward Zammit Lews,” Grech said.

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