'Fire-fighting' within the government is distracting the administration from the planning it should be doing to utilise EU funds for Malta's economic recovery, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said on Wednesday.

He said the various serious allegations being made against the government were causing officials to fight each other, cover up for each other, or take whatever other action they felt necessary to protect themselves from being implicated.

Interviewed during a PN fund-raising marathon on Net TV, Delia referred to a Times of Malta report that Malta is considering lobbying for a six-month extension of the review of its anti-money laundering regime to allow more time to prove its systems are trustworthy.

It was a shame, he said, that Malta had reached this stage, and that it feared it would not successfully meet the autumn deadline.

A negative report, which would see Malta greylisted, would be a trauma for the financial industry and for investment, with Malta not seen as being a reliable partner to do business with. Thousands of jobs would be put at risk, he said.

The Opposition, he stressed, wanted Malta to pass the test and it was prepared to work towards that aim. But the government was not being transparent and it was not consulting the opposition.

The Opposition leader said it was a disgrace how ministers claimed to 'know nothing' or had 'nothing to do' with major scandals. How could the finance minister claim he knew nothing or had nothing to do with scandals involving some of the government's biggest outlays, such as the privatisation of hospitals or, more recently, the Montenegro deal? 

He even portrayed the government to be the victim, when it was the people who were the victims, because they were the ones who were being robbed, Delia said. 

This applied also to Robert Abela, who claimed knowing nothing despite having been a consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister. Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat too would lead one to believe he lived in another planet, Delia said. 

Now, while the EU was making millions of euros available to help member states recover after the COVID-19 crisis, Malta's government officials could not plan the best way to utilise the funds because they were busy trying to ensure they were not implicated in some scandal, Delia said.

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