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Mistra case might have been a decoy - Joseph Muscat

The Mistra case might have been leaked by people in the Nationalist Party as a decoy to deviate the people’s attention from other matters, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said this morning.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the party’s Msida branch, Dr Muscat referred to the court decision on the case last week which exonerated two Mepa officials and said that the PL respected that decision.

It respected the court’s decision in the same way that it respected the Malta Environment and Planning Authority auditor’s report which had gone into detail on this case and which had concluded that the permit should never have been considered because it breached all environmental principles.

Dr Muscat pointed out that the court noted that it was normal for Mepa board members to meet politicians on individual applications.

He said he was not amazed that the Prime Minister, who did not see anything wrong in his Finance Minister breaching the code of ethics, saw nothing wrong in this.

The Labour leader referred to an international report which he said placed Malta in the 89th position when it came to equality. The country had been 71st in 2006 and although it was true that the number of countries being considered in the study had increased, it was also true that other countries were progressing much faster than Malta.

This classification placed Malta at the bottom of the EU list and behind Vietnam and Kazakhstan worldwide.

On the budget, Dr Muscat said the country needed a responsible budget which fought the rising cost of living, which people could not keep up with.

Moreover, certain declarations being made by the prime minister just before the budget and the start of the Christmas period were undermining the chances of economic recovery.

In saying that the electricity prices would rise again, for example, the prime minister was showing he did not understand how the economic mentality worked. He was also rendering the private sector less competitive.

The opposition, Dr Muscat said, had given the government a way out with one of its proposals given during its meeting at Zabbar last week.

The Labour leader spoke on the Cirkewwa quay saying this had been coming for 13 years, €18.5 million were spent and there was still nothing to show for it. The minister was now saying it would be completed in 2012. Had this been in the private sector the people in charge would have been sacked.

Dr Muscat referred to a declaration by Finance Minister Tonio Fenech in the PN parliamentary group relating to the police. Saying he was not repeating what was said because it was libellous, Dr Muscat hoped the case would be dealt with efficiently and fairly.

On the issue of the black dust which plagued several localities in the south and central parts of the island, the Labour leader said that the government seemed to forget that the Minister had told parliament in 2000 that Enemalta had already started taking action to resolve matters. In 2001, the minister had said that as soon as it was known that this dust was coming out of Marsa power station the government took immediate action to solve the problem.

Enemalta, Dr Muscat said, was now saying it had a plan, what was it? What was Mepa doing? Where was the dust coming from if not the power station?

As the minister responsible for Mepa, the Prime Minister should give the authority a deadline by when it should come up with its conclusions and propose action which should be taken to protect the people who were suffering from such inconvenience.

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