The Malta Independent 4 October 2023, Wednesday
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‘Law must apply to everyone’, Grech says on benefits fraud scandal

Kyle Patrick Camilleri Tuesday, 19 September 2023, 22:30 Last update: about 13 days ago

The law must apply to everyone, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said on the benefits fraud scandal.

On Tuesday evening, Bernard Grech was interviewed by a ONE News journalist.

Grech was asked questions about several topics, including about the quarrel during the Ħamrun feast, PN's lack of published accounts, the Opposition's opinion on migration and its related strategy, the recent social benefits fraud scandal, and other pertinent issues.


A question was raised about previous statements Grech made about those who accepted benefits when they were not entitled to them, and whether Grech wants to give them an amnesty.

Grech said that the "law must apply to everyone." He said that these people are angry. "They are disappointed as they were promised that they would not be caught as long as they vote for the Labour Party."  He continued that these recipients are content in paying back the money they weren't meant to take, but wish for justice to take its course on those people involved in orchestrating this described criminal system.

He said that while it is right that these people are arraigned in court and made to pay the funds back, "as that is justice, it is also right, as everyone expects, that Robert Abela has to bring back the funds from Vitals and Steward." He said however that "Robert Abela does not want to get the €400 million back."

The Opposition leader said that the government is taking the people who illegally received around €450 in monthly benefits (despite not being entitled to them) to the courts while those who took €400 million from the hospitals deal are not.

Continuing on this scandal, the interviewer queried if the Nationalist Party knew about what was going on before being revealed in national media. On this point, Grech answered that the party only got to know about this corrupt scheme "a few weeks ago" and that the party wished to collect evidence to substantiate their serious allegations before publicizing their claims.

"We got to know about it a few weeks ago - two years after Robert Abela got to know about it and did nothing", stated Grech.

Referencing the incident that left a PN supporter "severely beaten" during the Hamrun feast, Bernard Grech dismissed the interviewer's allegation that his presence caused the violent circumstances. Stating that he attended around thirty village feasts throughout the summer, Grech said that if the allegation were true that internal political disputes lead to the eventuality, then other similar incidents would have occurred in the other feasts he attended, rather than be an isolated incident.

Grech also said that he visited the victim of this brutality the following day in hospital, though did not use it as a political stunt "as Robert Abela would have." The Opposition leader also said that the victim was his distant cousin while condemning all forms of assault.

Grech was then asked as to why the Nationalist Party was the only local political party to not yet publish its 2021 accounts on the Electoral Commission's website. Grech responded that he is honest and transparent, unlike others from the governing party. After some arguing - since the interviewer commented that these accounts will apparently remain secret - the party leader said the PL should take this matter up to the Police Commissioner and the relevant institutions if they think there is something irregular.

Questions relating to internal conflict within the Nationalist Party were undermined or referred to as attempts to misconstrue the public. For instance, Grech called claims that Peter Agius allegedly commented to expel foreigners from Malta "an invention of Labour media".

The PN leader then challenged the interviewer to state when and where these comments were stated to no reaction.

On irregular migration, Grech said he agrees with Roberta Metsola's proposed direction to tackle migration - to tackle it from the lands where migrants depart from.

The ONE reporter noted that the government disagreed with the proposed New Immigration Pact since it would add further pressures onto countries at Europe's frontier, such as Malta. Bernard Grech responded that PN agrees with their MEP and EP President since they would rather save human lives.

"We must tackle this issue and we must tackle it as a European Union. We can tackle the immigration crisis with the EU", Grech said.

On the influx of foreign workers, the Opposition leader criticized the government's strategy to import foreign labourers rather than promote local youth, saying that recent population surges were not experienced in the ten years PN was in government during Malta's first decade in the EU.


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