Simon Busuttil said today that 2017 s “a crucial year” in which people had to decide whether it was acceptable to be led by a corrupt government.
The Nationalist Party leader used a speech at the Hamrun party club this morning to lay out his vision of a meritocratic country where public institutions served the people.
While he accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of leading a populist government that hijacked public institutions, wallowed in clientelism and tried to silence those who disagreed with it, Dr Busuttil said this had to be the year in which people “took their country back”.
Using the analogy of the Three Kings to describe the Prime Minister, his chief of staff Keith Schembri and Minister Without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi, Dr Busuttil said they were squandering public funds.
“While we went through a TV marathon to collect €5 million for the Community Chest Fund, and this is good, the budget allocated to these Three Kings was not enough and at the stroke of a pen they were given an additional €8 million,” Dr Busuttil said.
He said ordinary people – such as cancer patients who did not afford the very expensive treatment – were shouldering the price of a populist government that closed its eyes to corruption.
Dr Busuttil took the government to task for failing to take the General Workers’ Union to court after the union was found to have breached land concession conditions on its Valletta headquarters.
The NAO last year found that the GWU breached its contract when it leased out parts of the building to private and public companies. The government has so far stopped at studying the legal implications of going to court over the matter, ignoring recommendations made by the NAO.
Dr Busuttil said the PN would from Opposition take the matter to court.
REACTION TO SALVU MALLIA'S COMMENTS
Referring to an interview PN candidate Salvu Mallia gave The Sunday Times of Malta in which he said he would leave the party if it silenced him, Dr Busuttil said this would not happen.
“This is why the PN is good for people like Salvu because this party allows you to say things without fear of retribution. This is the PN’s strength not its weakness,” Dr Busuttil said.
He also addressed the criticism directed towards him that he was timid in his approach.
“I do not scream, or bang on the table. I don’t lie to or insult people but if you want a leader with integrity, a determination of steel and who is ready to always tell the truth, I am here to serve. This is the difference between me and Joseph Muscat.”
Dr Busuttil insisted a government led by him would not discriminate, will ensure public institutions like the police did their job properly and fight corruption.
“My vision is to lead a government that serves the people; that gives power to the people… In the past we made mistakes and we have to show that we understood what we did wrong and learnt from it.”