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Muscat lists reasons for no-confidence motion

Opposition leader Joseph Muscat said this morning that the Opposition had moved the no-confidence motion in the government because the Prime Minister had abdicated his responsibility to himself seek a confidence vote in order to stub out uncertainty in the country. 

He also listed many other reasons why parliament should declare no confidence in the government.

Malta, he said, had a prime minister of "wait and see" but the country wanted action. Everyone was insisting that instability had to end.

The government and its leader were clinging to power and trying to alarm the people. The Prime Minister cried crocodile tears about having been working on the Iran sanctions issue on Sunday morning. As far as he knew, he was actually at the Zebbug club, Dr Muscat said.

This vote was needed because of the arrogance of the clique around the prime minister which had hijacked the Nationalist Party.

This was a government in denial, resorting to its old broken record about its achievements.

This debate, Dr Muscat said, was surreal. It was a laughable debate by remote control, where MPs were told what to say, burying their heads firmly in the sand and ignoring the country's problems.

Dr Gonzi had complained that the no-confidence motion did not carry motivations. Yet that was also the case when the prime minister himself presented his own  confidence motion last November.

PN speakers spoke of the Nationalist Opposition having acted responsibly in 1998 and denying having moved a no-confidence motion. Yet they did so on 13 February 1998.

Reacting to claims that the opposition was hungry for power, Dr Muscat said the governemnt side was drunk for power, to the extent that it was arrogant and did not know what it was doing.

It was a lie for PN speakers to have claimed that a Labour government would remove stipends. Labour would keep them and strengthen them. Indeed, it was the current, government-appointed rector who had questioned them.

Dr Muscat said the economy was performing better than in other countries, despite the government, not because of it. The decision which the government would be remembered most for was the pay raise given to its ministers.

Dr Muscat noted that none of the PN speakers in the debate had spoken of the disaster in the bus service. The PM had ended up setting up a task force to sort out its problems. Yet since November, it only met three times.

Another reason for this no-confidence motion was Arms Ltd, which had destroyed families and businesses. Now, an unofficial order had been issued not to switch off power for anyone.

Another reason was the scandalous way how BWSC was granted the power station extension contract, and how the extension would use harmful heavy fuel instead of gas.

Dr Muscat said SmartCity was another reason for the no-confidence motion. It should have employed 7,000 people, but none had come about because it was claimed that a pumping station was not removed on time.

Another reason was how the White Rocks sports village had not been realised, despite  the government's rush to announce it.

The high power tariffs were another reason. Bills were raised even when oil prices were going down.

Another reason was the ministerial pay raise, defined by the Auditor-General as a good example in bad practice, Dr Muscat said. The raise had now been withdrawn, but he was sure that should the PN win the next election, the raise would be restored. Labour, however, would not touch those €500 a week.

Dr Muscat recalled how before the last election, the PN promised job security for Air Malta workers. Now one could see what was happening and hundreds of families did not know what the future held for them.

Yet another reason for the no-confidence motion was how the Resources Minister violated fundamental rights with regard to the waste treatment plant, and he remained in office, in contrast to somebody else.

Dr Muscat said the finance minister had also remained in saddle despite a contractor's statement that he had worked at his private residence.

Yet another reason for this no-confidence motion was how the governemnt failed to act on reports of alleged corruption in the superyachts facility until the opposition spoke up.

Other reasons were how some ministers were untouchable, despite their failures; how the Whistleblower Bill was not making progress in parliament; the way how the governemnt had ignored small investors' interests in various cases; the way how reform in primary healthcare was shelved; the way how the government treated fishermen; the proposed St John's Co-Cathedral Museum project; the annual reports by the Auditor-General which repeatedly pointed to outdated process, but no action was taken.

Other reasons were the lack of progress on IVF legislation, the way how dockyard workers were treated after having also been promised job security; the treatment meted out to the workers at GO and in the bus service.

One also remembered how hunters became bogeymen for the government; how the governemnt ignored job-creation in Gozo; the way how the government abruptly stopped the Permanent Residents' Scheme without consultation; the imposition of higher VAT on tourism services; women's participation rate in the labur sector remained the lowest in Europe and Malta had the second highest rate of inactive people in Europe; Malta still had the lowest rate of post-secondary schooling.

Dr Muscat said the government deserved no confidence because of the sorry state of affairs at Mater Dei Hospital; the way how children were still sent to Mt Carmel Hospital; the state of anarchy and lack of reform at the prisons which should have led to the resignation of the responsible minister; the sorry state of the law courts; the governemnt's lie about Justyne Caruana for political convenience; the fact that the IMF and the EU had said that the government's budgetary projections were unrealistic - to the extent that the governemnt was shaving €40m of its spending without saying where the knife would strike.

The Opposition leader said that another reason was the deficit targets which were not reached year after year while debt serving costs were soaring. A quarter of the country's debt had been made under Prime Minister Gonzi. €600,000 were paid daily on debt serving;

Other reasons, Dr Muscat said, was how the government upended its priorities and was spending millions on a new parliament without knowing where the money would come from; €3m had been spent on the breakwater bridge to nowhere but the government refused to build a pedestrian bridge over Qormi/Mriehel bypass; and no one knew how much debt Enemalta had.

Dr Muscat said thousands of workers were working for the government in a manner which amounted to exploitation under fixed contracts. Furthermore, no action was taken over how Pakistani nurses were engaged, despite serious allegations he had made.

The Opposition leader said the government had deceived the people of Maghtab, telling them that the landfill had been closed, only to open another one next door at Ghallis.

Other reasons for the no-confidence motion was scandalous development permits such as the one at Bahrija; the failed Mepa reform; the state of management of Wastserv; the racket in the wardens system; the scandal in the VAT Department; inefficiency and clientelism at Transport Malta and Alan Camilleri's fiefdom at Malta Enterprise. When Malta needed so much factory space, Mr Camilleri wanted to turn a disused factory into a corporate village, and yet no one had shown any interest in it. Mr Camilleri also moved to temporary offices on the grounds of St Luke's, at a cost of €3 million without a call for tenders.

Dr Muscat recalled how Malta lost some €50 million on the Fairmount ship conversion contracts and no one was held to account despite issuing a quote which did not even cover labour costs. This country had also suffered a year without EU funds for educational programmes, but there was no apology from the government.

Yet another reason to vote against the government, Dr Muscat said, was how the prime minister in defiance to the will of the people as expressed in a referendum, voted against divorce in Parliament.

Dr Muscat said he could go on, but the cherry on the cake was how in the current crisis, the prime minister had still intended to go abroad, again abdicating his responsibility. This was a government who decided to dissolve Sliema local council because there was no team spirit among the councillors. But what was good for the goose, was good for the gander.

The current grave situation had developed because of the leadership style of the prime minister and those around him, Dr Muscat said.

Therte had been important developments since the last confidence vote, Dr Muscat said. A Nationalist MP had called for the prime minister's resignation.

The people deserved stability, Dr Muscat insisted.

The prime minister had said that the outcome of this debate had to be clear, that the outcome should be durable, and there should be no conditions. Dr Muscat insisted that Dr Gonzi should stand by what he had said.

 

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