“The Labour Party presented 1,000 planned and costed pledges,” Robert Abela bragged after his much-delayed launch of the PL electoral manifesto. “The Labour Party’s proposals have always been costed,” Labour president Ramona Abela insisted. According to Labour, the cost of implementing the manifesto will reach €3.3 billion.

How that €3.3 billion was worked out God only knows.

Labour made 1,000 proposals. Yes, 1,000. Not 999 or 1001. As always, Labour wallows in hyperbole. It excels in the extravagance of implausibility. Its manifesto ‘Malta flimkien’ (Malta together) is the longest, most brilliant manifesto in the world with the most proposals in history. Amazing. That is, until you start reading them.

“This manifesto is the plan (no more road map now) on which we will design the Malta we want for our children,” Abela states in the foreword. “Every time we were faced with huge challenges, we overcame them because we were united, together,” he waffled.

Labour’s objective was clear. By issuing the longest manifesto in history, it would completely put the electorate off reading it and realise it’s another scam.

Who’s going to bother to read through 292 pages of utter nonsense? And nonsense it really is.

Section 14 is called “Kultura vibranti għall-benesseri ta’ kulħadd”, which roughly translates into “a vibrant culture for the wellness of all”.

Abela, as prime minister, had the discretion of selecting the election date. Yet, his own party’s manifesto wasn’t ready. Or maybe he wanted to see what the opposition would come up with and sneak in some additions into the PL’s own. The delay in launching the  manifesto hasn’t helped. It’s still stuffed with insipid claptrap.

Pledge 5, for example: “We will be a shoulder for industry and businesses and from one year to the next we will present strong budgets that stimulate investment in workers and families.” What a “strong budget” might be is left to the imagination. How this pledge was costed not even the wildest imagination could grasp.

Or pledge 8: “Our work will continue to focus on the creation of high-quality, well-paid jobs.” What sort of proposal is this? This is just absurd.

The nation is hardly interested in whether its government claims it’s focused on creation of jobs. It’s interested in how those jobs will be created and what Labour’s plan is to attract investment.

Plenty other pledges are just more senseless prattle. “We aim to reach the highest employment rates amongst EU member states (pledge 6).” Or worded slightly differently in the next pledge (7): “We want to continue to maintain low unemployment rates.” These are not proposals. They’re just vague generic wishes, completely devoid of substance. Squeeze with all your might and there’s nothing.

Pledge 4 promises to “bring down the national debt-to-GDP ratio to below 60 per cent by the end of the next legislature”. The 2020 debt-to-GDP ratio was 54.3 per cent. In 1995, after eight years of PN government, it was 34.2 per cent. In 1996, after nine years of PN government, it was 38.5 per cent. Labour has been in power for nine years and it’s pledging to bring it down to below 60 per cent in another five years’ time.

Labour made 1,000 proposals. It excels in the extravagance of implausibility- Kevin Cassar

Yet, Prof. Edward Scicluna boasted on the eve of the 2017 election that Labour had managed to bring it down to below 60 per cent. What Abela is promising is that, in five years’ time, he might bring Malta’s finances to somewhere close to what they were five years ago. So much for Labour’s economic miracles.

Since then, Abela has overseen the unbridled reckless abuse of public funds to reward party loyalists and grant them their every whim – stays in luxury hotels for Lionel Gerada and his buddies, lavish trips for Joseph Cuschieri, millions for pollster Vince Marmará, millions more for Saviour Balzan, hundreds of thousands for Lou Bondí, Carmen Ciantar, Kurt Farrugia, Karl Stagno Navarra, hundreds of millions for Vitals and Steward, millions for one night of film awards. So good luck with bringing down the debt-to-GDP ratio.

Pledge 9 is another non-starter. “From one year to the next we will introduce measures and incentives for Maltese and Gozitan workers to improve their skills.” What measures or incentives Labour’s manifesto doesn’t tell us. Just more hot air. And how did they cost this one?

Pledge 21 is just gibberish. “We recognise the strategic role of Malta Enterprise. In the future (fiż-żmien li ġej), Malta Enterprise will focus on creating better paid jobs as well as investment that uses the services of established businesses. In this way we will create industrial hubs that strengthen the competitivity of Malta and create high quality jobs.”

So what has Malta Enterprise been doing? What has Malta Enterprise been waiting for? And how does ‘focusing’ on creating better paid jobs result in the creation of industrial hubs? Labour thinks high quality jobs are created by “focusing on creating” them, instead of avoiding greylisting.

But relax. Labour has a plan for stimu­lating economic activity. It tells us how in pledge 11: “We are going to launch a National Plan for Socio-economic Regeneration.” Aha, so that’s how you do it. Stimulate economic growth by launching a plan. Cunning. Hang on, how?

The answer is in pledge 12. “We will launch a national socio-economic study that will be updated from time to time.” I see. Another reward for Marmará then. Who would have thought that economic growth only requires a study? Don’t worry, the study, the manifesto informs us, “will be completed in the first year of the legislature”. And then, the government will donate €15,000 to start-ups in locations identified as part of that plan (pledge 13).

So, Labour doesn’t have the plan yet. It doesn’t know how many locations will be identified in the study. It doesn’t even know how many start-ups will be set up in those locations. But it’s giving them all €15,000.

But they still know how much it will cost – it’s budgeted. Labour’s manifesto is just manifest fraud.

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