Some proposals in the PN manifesto are duplicated, others are missing and some others are written more than once, using different wording.
A thorough read of the electoral programme, which is available on the Nationalist Party’s website, reveals that a number of proposals on page 199 are duplicated word for word.
Proposal 534 about the responsibilities of MPs and the cabinet is the same as proposal 538; 535 is the same as 539; 536 appears again as 540; and 537 is repeated as 541.
Other proposals seem to be repeated, only using different wording. Proposal 12, about pensions, explains how a PN government will cooperate with the private sector to create a pension fund which is sustainable for future generations. Sixty pages later, proposal 363 pledges exactly the same thing in different words.
Similarly, in proposal 260, members of the disciplined forces who continue to work in the service after their 25-year tenure is up are promised entitlement to a full pension. But the PN had promised them exactly the same thing just two proposals earlier, in proposal 258.
On the other hand, over the past weeks, Bernard Grech and other party officials have held news conferences announcing proposals that are not listed in their manifesto.
Last week, Grech unveiled several proposals to make family life easier. The party proposed to bump up paternity leave to 15 days to make it easier for people to work from home and to introduce a range of subsidies for services such as nannies and home helpers.
Apart from one small paragraph vaguely explaining the PN’s commitment to implement work-life balance measures, the manifesto makes no mention of these measures.
Similarly, on February 24, the PN unveiled 12 proposals on animal rights. It pledged to launch a national campaign to neuter abandoned animals, introduce harsher punishments for animal cruelty, regulate zoos and prohibit the creation of new ones, explore better conditions for exotic animals living in Malta and ban the importation of new ones without prior permits, among others.
There is no mention of any of these pledges in the manifesto, except for three general proposals describing the PN’s commitment toward animal rights.
PN insists: no mistakes
In a reply to questions, the Nationalist Party said this is no mistake. Rather, as it had announced when it published the manifesto, the missing proposals are part of several other “packages” of proposals that will be unveiled during the campaign, culminating in a “final framework that will bring together all the costings of [our] measures and incorporate other proposals made by civil society during the campaign”.
Labour’s only criticism of our document is a malicious interpretation of our proposal
The PN said the upcoming packages include further detailed proposals on sectors which have already been revealed during the campaign, “such as work-life balance, pensions, animal welfare and active ageing and several others which will be discussed in more detail this week and the next, such as [our] packages on sports, mobility and others”.
The Nationalist Party published its electoral manifesto in the first week of the electoral campaign and has since been constantly critical of the Labour Party for not publishing theirs.
The PN has also been insisting that the prime minister called an election without having an electoral manifesto and is now piecing it together by copying the PN’s proposals.
“When the election was called, we decided to immediately publish our vision document and most of the new proposals we had worked upon because we wanted to make sure we could use every day of the campaign to explain our ideas in a transparent manner,” the PN said.
“This is in stark contrast to Robert Abela, who has not yet published his electoral manifesto despite being the one to call the election at his convenience. Almost all of the ideas Abela has mentioned so far were poor copies of our electoral programme or solutions to problems he himself created.”
The PN spokesperson was speaking before Labour unveiled its own manifesto on Friday.
Reporters have been heckling Grech about mistakes in the manifesto since the Labour Party flagged a proposal which seems to suggest a PN government would taper and take away financial aid from people who live under pre-1995 leases.
PN officials clarified that the proposal would keep all the existing benefits and add onto them but initially refused to admit that the proposal’s wording implied otherwise.
A few days later, while speaking to reporters, Grech hinted that it could have been a mistake, saying the PN is made of imperfect people who humbly admit to their mistakes.
“Labour’s only criticism of our document is a malicious interpretation of our proposal,” the PN said.
“Those benefiting today will see absolutely no change whatsoever to their subsidy and what we are proposing is over and above what exists today and applies exclusively to tenants who currently do not benefit from the subsidy due to their income levels.”
The proposal’s wording still hasn’t been amended at the time of writing and the document also contains occasional grammatical and spelling mistakes.
In a mass rally in Naxxar on Sunday, Grech defended the manifesto, saying it is a work in progress as party members continued to consult and listen to the people.