A prestigious UK medical university will be set up in Gozo in an €200million investment that will see the Gozo General and St Luke’s hospitals refurbished to standards on par with, or even better than, Mater Dei”, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on #TimesTalk this evening.

He was speaking during a head-to-head debate with Dr Busuttil in which the two also fielded a set of four quick-fire questions that produced a few nuggets for political analysts.

The Prime Minister admitted his attempted pushback of migrants to Libya in 2013 was a mistake. Asked whether he would resign if he lost the next general election, Dr Busuttil said it “depends on the result”.

The announcement on the hospital - which the Prime Minister first alluded to in a political activity on Sunday - came as a response to a comment from the Opposition leader, who questioned whether the government was targeting any new sectors.

“We will be solving the problem of a shortage of  beds and patients in corridors. We will be ensuring healthcare and the education of healthcare professionals remains as good as ever and free,” he announced on Times Talk this evening.

“We will also be ensuring workers retain their jobs. That, Opposition leader is how we plan to bring investment to the economy,” Dr Muscat said, replying to a comment by Simon Busuttil.

The agreement will see the opening of a branch of the Barts medical school in Malta and Gozo.

The programme also saw the government being assessed by independent political commentators Martin Scicluna and Michael Briguglio, who were asked to review the government’s performance in different sectors.

Their analysis, given separately in pre-recorded clips, was very similar. On the environment and Malta Taghna Ilkoll, the government’s pre electoral to be more meritocratic than any government before it, the pair was scathing.

Mr Scicluna, a former President of Din L-Art Helwa, gave the government zero out of ten on the environment and one out of ten on Malta Taghna Ilkoll. Dr Briguglio followed with three out of ten on the environment and four out of ten on the latter subject.

They were more generous on  energy, finances and the economy where the government scored between six and eight.

The debate was overall civil but at one point, the gloves came off, after Dr Busuttil suggested his political rival got bribed.

The trigger came from a play by Dr Muscat on the statement made Dr Busuttil before the general election in which he predicted that the country might be forced to ask for a bailout should Labour be elected.

“I think what he wanted was a bailout for his party,” Dr Muscat said. The retort was quick. “That’s because we don’t get bribed,” fired back Dr Busuttil.

At this point the Prime Minister asked if Dr Busuttil was suggesting that he got bribed and Dr Busuttil again retorted in no time. “Of course”.

He quickly qualified the comment saying the damning report of the Auditor General into the government’s decision to buy back the lease of the Café Premier for €4.2 million raised this sort of suspicion. However, the Prime Minister at that point had already gone on the attack, saying the statement was unacceptable and that his opponent had reached new depths.

Dr Busuttil also raised the government’s trip to Azerbaijan in December, when the Prime Minister, his close aides and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the country’s regime during an unannounced visit. However, the Prime Minister rebutted with a disclosure saying “consultants close to” Dr Busuttil had lobbied the government to take a stand on an issue that affected their clients, who are close to the Azeri government.

Dr Muscat said there was nothing underhanded about their request but he argued that he used the example to point out that doing business with the regime was not the scandal made out to be by the Opposition leader.

The Prime Minister did not name the consultants, even when asked to and Dr Busuttil said he had no idea what the Prime Minister was talking about. 

 

 

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