Updated: Muscat challenges Gonzi to publish accounts
Lists party's proposals for Gozo
Labour leader Joseph Muscat this morning challenged Prime Minsiter Lawrence Gonzi to publish the Nationalist Party’s financial accounts since he became Prime Minister, including for the last election.
Replying to questions following a news conference at the Xaghra Belvedere this morning, Dr Muscat said the PL always published its annual financial accounts because it had nothing to hide.
It would also have no difficulty with a law which would prohibit those found guilty of corruption from contesting office.
Referring to claims by the Prime Minister following the Anglu Farrugia interview with The Sunday Times that the fourth floor where Labour was meeting businessmen and contractors had been exposed, Dr Muscat said his office was on the third and not on the fourth floor.
He said he met everyone and did not have a hidden agenda and no contractor had given the party a €350,000 donation.
A claim that Malta Fairs and Convention Centre had approved a budget of €350,000 for the Nationalist Party’s electoral campaign, was denied both by the MFCC and the PN.
Dr Muscat said Dr Gonzi lacked credibility when it came to matters of party financing because he was responsible for the country not having a party financing act.
PROPOSALS FOR GOZO
On the party’s proposals for Gozo, Dr Muscat said the Labour Party would build a small cruise liner terminal in Gozo, possibly in Mgarr but other options would also be considered, as long as this would not involve virgin land.
He said the PL was against the proposed project for Hondoq ir-Rummien.
Other proposals would include a tax credit on an investment of €50,000 or 25 per cent - to be used over a four-year period, for start-ups in Gozo.
Another proposal is to give back to companies employing new workers on at least a three-year contract, a €5,000 wage refund for each of the new workers.
A PL government would also use EU mechanisms for the Commission to assess economic disparities between Malta and Gozo in detail to enable Gozo to tap further into EU regional funds.
Labour would also work to attract international educational institutions to open up centres of excellence in Gozo, including a medical school at Gozo Hospital.
It would introduce a public service obligation to create a link between Gozo and the Valletta area as well as continue to look into the creation of a permanent link between the two islands.
Labour would introduce cheaper ferry rates for those who spent a minimum period of time in Gozo, it would give the Gozo courts its own judge so that more cases would be heard in Gozo and more public service back office functions would be transferred to Gozo.
There would be a push to get as many university courses as possible also available in Gozo and a person representing Gozo would be sent to Dar Malta in Brussels.
Dr Muscat then visited the family-run Debono printing press in Xewkija. Following a tour of the press, he said the business would benefit from a Family Business Act the PL was proposing. The act would make it easier - and cheaper - for family businesses to transfer ownership from one generation to another.
He then went on a tour of Dar Emmaus in Victoria. The building, which will open in four months' time, will be Gozo's first purpose-built shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Mgr Joe Vella Gauci, who chairs the Shelter and Hope Foundation, which is building the home, said the foundation was starved for funds.
"We're just a handful of people. We've received funds from the Community Chest Fund and the Tumas Group, but other than that we're on our own," he said.
Foundation director Fr Michael Xuereb said the foundation had tried - unsuccessfully- to tap the Good Causes fund, and it was still waiting for a tax refund it had applied for two years ago.
Dr Muscat said he was convinced both parties would help initiatives such as Dar Emmaus, noting that "violence does not make you a man".
He said there was scope for incentivising donations to voluntary organisations through tax exemptions, although he made it clear any exemption could not be a blanket one.