The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: The PL’s power of incumbency

Thursday, 16 May 2024, 11:21 Last update: about 2 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela has challenged the Nationalist Party to report him “for buying votes” this coming weekend when people receive the additional Cost of Living Adjustment cheques.

We do not know what the PN will be doing. But we do believe that this COLA cheque will be yet another attempt by the Labour Party to use all the power of incumbency it could muster to influence the voters.

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With his same brazen words in Santa Lucija last Tuesday, the Prime Minister has admitted that what Labour is doing has an effect on how the people – or, at least, those who are led by the nose – think.

It was only two weeks ago that all workers received what is labelled as an income tax refund – a cheque of between €60 and €140, depending on one’s income – in what was also seen as a blatant effort by the party in power to sway the election.

The Prime Minister had then tried to belittle the gesture, saying that the government will continue dishing out the goodies irrespective of the criticism that was being made and that, after all, such a practice has been in place for years. Election or not, he had said, budget measures will continue to be implemented.

But, then, isn’t it strange that, this year, the tax refund cheques were distributed in May, a few weeks before the election, when usually they are mailed in the first quarter? Why was there this delay this time round? Does the Prime Minister think we’re all stupid?

Let’s not forget that, when the election was held on 26 March in 2022, the tax refunds were posted in the weeks preceding the election, not in May.

The tax refund cheques distributed earlier this month and the additional COLA to be given this weekend are only part of the plan that is in place to instil a feel-good factor, at a time when the government is feeling the pressure of having its former leader and three former ministers charged in court.

In recent weeks we had pensions which were also adjusted as well as the issuing of a presidential pardon to hundreds of people who will have their criminal record expunged after defrauding the country in the social benefits scandal.

Not to mention how ministers are tripping over each other to hold government activities that are simply intended to show what the government is doing, and to deflect attention away from the crisis that the country has found itself in after the conclusion of the magisterial inquiry into the hospitals’ case.

The Prime Minister sees nothing wrong in timing the presidential pardon, the pensions’ adjustments, the tax refund cheques and the additional COLA – all matters that he can control – to the eve of the election. But then he complains that the timing of the conclusion of the inquiry, which he could not control, was meant to cause harm to Labour.

More than three weeks separate us from election day. Let’s see what else the Labour government will come up with to try to earn more votes.

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