Gonzi dismisses reports that he will step down
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi this evening sought to dismiss reports that he would resign his post of prime minister if the PN won the forthcoming election.
Reacting to the reports, made in the Labour media, Dr Gonzi said at a PN discussion on the Granaries that he would continue to serve for as long as he enjoyed the confidence of the people and the councillors of the Nationalist Party - and he pointed out that the 97% of the councillors had renewed their confidence in him last February.
To enjoy the confidence of the councillors was a privilege Dr Gonzi said, and it was a greater privilege to be given the people's mandate to lead the country, something which could not be ignored.
Later during the discussion, held as part of the Independence celebration, Dr Gonzi also accused the Labour media of 'inventing stories'.
He said the PN always had confidence in the people and the country and the PN would continue to be the agent of change.
He said the PN and himself would go for the general election proud of their track record, shown in Malta's performance despite economic problems abroad and problems within.
When asked about the PN's troubles and the no-confidence votes in parliament, Dr Gonzi said he continued to have full confidence in former minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici and the former permanent representative to the EU Richard Cachia Caruana. He said that his reply whenever he was asked about the PN's internal troubles was that despite those troubles, the people should see what the country had been able to achieve, especially as compared to its neighbours. Malta had the highest ever number of gainfully occupied persons. It did not have the financial problems of other countries and the economy was moving forward.
Questioned on the promises to reduce taxation, Dr Gonzi said that although, because of the economic situation, the top rate had not been reduced to 25% the government had worked to put more money in the people's pockets and to protect jobs. This was evidence by the tax cuts that had been announced, as well as tax incentives for various sectors such as women who returned to work.
When questioned on criticism of the Cohabitation Bill and calls for the recognition of same sex marriages, Dr Gonzi said that for the PN, marriage was between a man and a woman.
However this was a subject which had to be treated with sensitivity and one could not ignore the reality of new forms of relationships. One of the purposes of the Cohabitation Bill was to give protection to those involved in the different forms of relationship, Dr Gonzi said.