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‘Leader taking a political gamble’

Joseph Muscat is gambling with his political career by promising a tariff reduction project that will not happen for five years, according to Finance Minister Tonio Fenech.

You are taking people for a ride
- Tonio Fenech

He said Labour’s energy proposal was similar to previous “vote-winning” pre-election promises the party made: the removal of VAT in 1996, the two-month tax holiday promised in 2003 and the pledge to halve the water and electricity surcharge in 2008.

He said Labour would go through with its electoral promise by digging into funds earmarked for health and education.

“You are taking people for a ride,” he charged during the first Broadcasting Authority televised debate with Labour candidate Chris Cardona.

Mr Fenech challenged Labour to publish full reports of its consultants and expressed doubts on how the party could promise to build a new power station in just one year.

Dr Cardona replied that the proposal was “credible and doable” and was well-received by families, self-employed and social partners, including the Malta Employers’ Association.

“The PN does not have concrete proposals because the party has not drawn up its electoral programme, so it is sowing doubts on our ideas,” he said, recalling the public transport reform fiasco and the number of patients waiting in Mater Dei Hospital’s corridors.

He asked whether Mr Fenech was ready to apologise for the €500 weekly increase ministers took behind people’s backs.

He mentioned the 5,600 jobs that were supposed to be created at SmartCity and the letters assuring Air Malta workers of their jobs.

While admitting there were “many things that could have been done better”, Mr Fenech listed the Government’s achievements over the past five years.

“We will continue building on what we achieved. Small businesses will be strengthened by widening the Microinvest scheme. We are building a new oncology hospital and will continue to provide free medicine,” he said.

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