The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Clueless Claudette

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 5 May 2024, 08:07 Last update: about 2 months ago

“Listen to how they speak,” Claudette Abela Baldacchino roared, referring to the PN. “They are lying that the national debt is rising, when today the national debt is 20% lower than it was under a PN government”.

For those who have never heard of Claudette Abela Baldacchino, she’s one of Labour’s nine candidates contesting the MEP election. She’s already been an MEP for just one year, between 2013 and 2014. And now she’s back, desperate to get onto that gravy train again. Or maybe she’s just desperate to get out of Malta.  Whichever it is, she’s certainly pulling all the tricks.  But her latest statement was truly jaw dropping.

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Abela Baldacchino is trying to deceive the electorate with absolute fiction.  While denouncing the PN for “getting worse”, she lied through her teeth. Her claim that the national debt today is 20% lower than under a PN government is simply astounding - especially since just three days before her looney claim the NSO published the national debt data for 2023.

Now Claudette, read very carefully.  It’s not me saying it.  It’s the NSO - that’s the National Statistics Office.  The national debt last year increased by, drum roll, €768.1 million.  The total national debt now stands at €9,767.8 million.  Just so Claudette can grasp that - it’s €9.77 billion.

In the last full year of PN administration (2012), the national debt was less than half.  It stood at €4.87 billion.

Claudette Abela Baldacchino is lying blatantly.  In just 10 years Labour doubled the country’s debt.  Yet Claudette wants you to believe that the national debt today is 20% lower than it was under Lawrence Gonzi.

Remember Labour’s empty boasts of surplus.  Well, last year Labour ran up a deficit of €950 million.  That’s almost a billion euro deficit. If Labour’s so brilliant at economics how come we keep borrowing more and more?  Why are we being burdened with hundreds of millions of euro in interest payments?  In just three years, since Robert Abela took over, he’s raised the national debt by €3.1 billion.  That’s more than the total debt burden under all administrations until 2002.

Claudette Abela Baldacchino seems to struggle with simple mathematics.  Is it too difficult to understand that €9.77 billion is far more than €4.87 billion? By which distorted stretch of the imagination is €4.87 billion 20% more than €9.77 billion?

Deception seems to be Claudette’s secret weapon for getting back to Brussels.

She’s launched into partisan attacks against David Casa and Roberta Metsola, accusing them of working against Malta’s interests.  She’s resorting to Labour’s traitor trolling. “Whoever works against Malta’s interest deserves a clear reply,” she incited. “Those who don’t work in Malta’s interests jeopardise the quality of life of all Maltese and Gozitans,” she warned. “I thought that with time they would learn, but instead they got worse,” she added.

Meanwhile she bragged that “I already have experience in Brussels and that experience will help me start working in Malta’s interests from the first day”.

That’s rich coming from a former MEP whose co-option into the European parliament triggered the most damaging headlines from the first day: “Maltese politician accused of fraud selected to European Parliament”. Did she say working for Malta’s interests?

Abela Baldacchino who had served as Qrendi deputy mayor faced criminal charges for alleged fraud involving EU spending. With five others she allegedly over-claimed €96,000 in travel expenses. She was investigated by the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF who quickly realised that the repeated claims for €599 for airline tickets from Malta to Brussels were inflated.  The Court of Auditors raised similar concerns.

But when the case came before the Maltese courts in 2021, Abela Baldacchino was acquitted. The court heard how the travel agency would issue handwritten receipts for €599 per airline ticket but the actual computerised receipt was for a far smaller amount which was the actual price paid.

Claudette was cleared. The main reason for her exoneration was that the Magistrate ruled that statements that had been given by the accused without legal assistance were not admissible as evidence.  The prosecution failed to produce evidence relating to her personal bank account. The court therefore decided that the alleged complicity in supplying false information was not proven - and Claudette got away with it.

She lay low for almost a decade, and now she’s back, clamouring to get her MEP seat back - lying her way towards that quota.

“With the decisions we take on 8 June we cannot send the message that we are ready to turn the clock back,” she insisted. The irony was totally lost on her that anybody voting for her is doing just that - turning the clock back to 2013 when Claudette Abela Baldacchino first tarnished Malta’s reputation with those headlines as she claimed her MEP seat.

The sad truth is that any candidate who can stand up and publicly spew blatant lies like Claudette can has no place representing us at the European parliament.

Abela Baldacchino insisted that “nothing can be taken for granted, not even the progress of a country”.  You have to concede she’s right about that.

Let’s hope the public takes her warning to heart and choose wisely. Hopefully the public will figure out that anybody who lies publicly about easily verifiable facts cannot even be trusted with their own travelling expenses claims - let alone an MEP seat.

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