Bernard Grech will be rallying party supporters outside the PN headquarters on Sunday evening, after Robert Abela announced the country will head to the polls on March 26.
The PN leader described the election as the "vaccine for COVID", urging the government to scrap precautionary health measures for all sectors, not just political events.
“We have found the vaccine for COVID… the vaccine is called 'general election'. I now expect the measures to be scrapped not just for political parties, or PL events, but also feasts, sports and cultural events, and for all those who want to return to normal life,” Grech told PN supporters in Mosta on Sunday morning.
By the time the party leader took to the podium set up in Mosta, the locality where he lives with his wife Annemarie, Abela had already announced the election date.
The PN immediately called a rally for 6pm in front of its headquarters.
Grech said the party remained the "underdog", but it was also brave and could convince voters.
'PN government will refund monies stolen through tax'
Grech called on people to be brave during the electoral campaign, listing a series of promises if elected to power.
He said that under a PN government, people would be refunded the money “stolen” from them through taxes for the past seven years.
“Those €100 you will receive in the promised cheque have been stolen from you through tax over seven years. How can we trust them for another five years?
“We aren’t happy with a government stealing from people through tax, and just how we would be refunding the monies stolen through utility bills, we will also be refunding funds stolen through tax for the past seven years.”
Last week, Times of Malta reported that an "anomaly" in the way the government computes income tax looks to have cost certain taxpayers hundreds of euros since 2017. The discrepancy in the way salaries are taxed for the upper two income bands means taxpayers in those categories could have ended up out of pocket by an average of €105 per year.
However, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana insisted that the way income tax is being computed obeys the letter of the law and side-stepped the issue.
Grech also promised to tackle the increasing cost of living, be a voice for minorities, launch a multi-million fund to help businesses deal with importation and exportation challenges and set a tax band of 5% for sportspeople and artists.
He said some were asking him if the party planned on fixing the damage caused by PL.
“Just how [PL] first promised a campus at Żonqor in Marsascala… and after attacking PN leader Simon Busuttil and other party members the government said it was resolving,” Grech said, adding it was “about time” that Abela revised the concession.
Speaking on TVM news show Xtra on Monday, Abela said that land in Senglea and Marsascala earmarked for the American University of Malta will return to the government, in exchange for campus expansion at Smart City.
'I don’t have any contracts, plans, or deals with criminals'
Grech, meanwhile, reiterated the PN's pledge to get Malta off the FATF greylisting in three months.
The party was determined it would be able to do so as it did not have any heavy shadow cast on it, like PL.
“I don’t have any contracts, plans, or deals with criminals… We will give Malta back the name that it has always deserved.”
In his address, Grech said it was now clear that the person who had announced the election and was spending people’s money on propaganda to convince people he was Mr Perfect, was far from being so.
He referred to news that Abela’s law firm Abela Advocates has spent the last four years operating out of a prime Valletta location, despite having no legal title to the office in question.
“Can we let them keep on doing this? I ask honest people: do you want a prime minister who treats you as an honest person, or one that treats you as a criminal, putting you through a trail of paperwork and due diligence and then exempting his friends €3 million in traffic contraventions?”
“How can he go to international and European leaders and convince them that Malta has changed,” Grech asked.
'Stealing our past and future'
The PN leader also referred to news that Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo has come under pressure after a photo published on Facebook showed a British-era stone marker in the garden of his Qala house.
“This week we discovered that a minister has a historic slab in his house. Can you believe this?
“It’s incredible but true. These people are thieves. And they’re not only stealing the past, but if we let them, they will also steal the future of your children,” he added.