Ahead of Saturday’s verdict on who will lead the Nationalist Party for the next general election, Keith Micallef asked the two contenders – Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech – 10 crucial questions.
What’s the first thing you will do if you win the leadership election?
Delia: I will ask for a pledge from all my MPs that they are willing and determined to work with me towards the best interest of the party and our country under my leadership.
Grech: My first priority is fostering unity. This promise is my mission and I will persevere until we succeed.
Of course, while my task is to encourage, empower, persuade and motivate through a healing process, all in the party need to particpate to encourage others to share our same vision.
Then, and only then, will the Nationalist Party be in a position to offer our shared vision and ideas for the future.
What needs to happen within the PN to give it a better chance of winning the next general election?
Delia: The PN has a fighting chance to win the next election through unity and by offering valid political alternatives. This may be achieved through an optimum collaboration of the administrative team, established members of parliament and new candidates who need to personally reach out to the electorate. The PN must ensure that its mission statement and proposals reach every voter.
Grech: Together, we must work incessantly hard at all levels of the party and with all sectors of society to forge a credible national political project that will empower people to shape a prosperous future with a better quality of life. We have to be trustworthy, fair, reliable and transparent.
We will embrace a vision of diversity in equality and of democracy that rests on the pillars of justice, solidarity and the rule of law. These will guarantee security, order and serenity for all, while paving the Malta’s way towards the common good whereby the person is placed at the very centre of our policymaking process.
How will you handle the Vitals and Electrogas contracts should you come to power? Can the country afford to rescind them?
Delia: I am determined to persist in giving back to the Maltese what has been paid for by the Maltese. I will scrutinise each contract, and with the help of everyone, find a viable solution.
I have already taken action when I personally dragged the Vitals case into court. I will also do the same thing about the Electrogas deal as soon as we have robust legal grounding.
Grech: Both contracts are vitiated with gross corruption. We will continue to fight to ensure that the whole truth emerges and to bring all responsible to account. Malta and Gozo must not run essential or any other services mired in corruption and cannot afford to continue forking out millions without ensuring value for money.
How will you have credibility to talk about financial probity when you had issues with your personal finances?
Delia: My financial situation was scrutinised by the board of due diligence in the same way as was done with Bernard Grech. I tabled every necessary document and answered each questions put forth by the board. After this scrutiny, I was declared a suitable candidate for the role of party leader. This wipes away all allegations and lies told about me during these three years.
We will fight to ensure the whole truth emerges and bring all responsible to account
Grech: As already publicly declared on more than one occasion, I have recognised that as a private citizen, I could have been more attentive to certain oversights. The fact I have no pending liabilities is confirmed by way of a Compliance Certificate issued by the Office of the Commissioner for Revenue on September 2, 2020, and it is pertinent to note that I am the only candidate to be issued with such a certificate of compliance.
Furthermore, before submitting my nomination as a candidate, I decided to retract my legal right to object to the amount of penalties and interest imposed upon me. In fact I paid and settled the amount in full.
This goes to show my commitment to respecting high political standards due to the fact I have voluntarily chosen to pay much more than an ordinary citizen in a similar situation by retracting my right at law. If elected leader, will enter office with absolutely no liabilities, even if they were under remission. This fulfils my values of political transparency and correctness.
Can you identify one characteristic that you admire in the other candidate?
Delia: I admire Dr Grech’s communication style and his ability to debate.
Grech: His perseverance.
What role would your opponent have in the party leadership, if you are successful?
Delia: I was the one who insisted with Bernard Grech to involve himself more actively in the PN. I will discuss the role to be undertaken by Dr Grech after the elections and without doubt will ascertain he is given full space to serve the party.
Grech: Adrian Delia is a member of the PN parliamentary group and I would start by discussing with him his role in the shadow cabinet. I am already on record stating that Dr Delia, if he accepts, can be part of the solution and will also be seeking his advice on issues he presided over during his term as leader.
Name one idea you have to boost the economy after COVID-19.
Delia: The nation needs a new economic model and not just one proposal for recovery after COVID-19. The PN has presented a huge number of proposals which include all sectors, be they medical or pertaining to the economy. We need to stop building an economy built on the influx of immigrants and cheap labour.
Grech: The pandemic has drastically changed our economy. Conscious of the fact that the economy requires a long-term vision and master plan, I believe that in the short-run we need to support our companies to invest, diversify, go digital and go green. We need to stimulate companies to invest through tax cuts and credits on condition that they retain their employees and enhance their product offering. We need to support our entrepreneurs to start building tomorrow’s economy, today.
The use of mass transport is the way forward
What is the most pressing social issue facing Malta today? And what one thing would you do to tackle it?
Delia: The most pressing social issues right now are poverty and immigration.
Grech: Society is fragmenting. I feel we are oblivious of the need to urgently shift our policies towards realising the common good for our people and the dignity and respect of the person. Tackling this has to start with education and other policies that promote the quality of life of our people.
What action would you take to stop excessive construction on the island, if you were prime minister?
Delia: The PN is not against development but strongly opposes damage to the environment and the loss of identity of our village characteristics and communities. We will always press for more enforcement of laws governing security for our workers as well as those governing permits and aesthetics.
We also need to offer affordable housing within everyone’s reach. This will be achieved through the implementation of a serious plan for economic and environmental regeneration.
Grech: I aspire to create a strong understanding and partnership with all sectors of society in a paradigm shift that makes a healthy environment a strong motor of the economy.
We need to strike a balance between the public interest and the private interest. Therefore, policies need to reflect the ever changing reality of the country as a whole and our obligation to ensure that people may lead a serene life inside their home.
What action would you take to stop excessive traffic if you were prime minister?
Delia: The traffic problem has increased because of the lack of investment in alternative transport methods. Mass transport must make economic sense and be affordable and efficient. The use of mass transport is the way forward.
Grech: The issue is multi-faceted and cannot be solved by short-term stop-gaps and tinkering at the edges. We need to create and agree upon a holistic environmental long-term strategy. Part of this could possibly include the de-centralisation of certain public services.
We should not think outside of the box, but we should think without the box. This is my style of politics and this is precisely how I wish to address this or similar national issues.
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