PN government to serve, not use, the country – Simon Busuttil
The two political parties yesterday began their outdoor party activities on Sundays, with Labour holding a party conference at Ghaxaq and PN at Nadur.
Speaking at Nadur, Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil said that a PN government will serve the country instead of getting the country to serve it, as the present government is doing.
Dr Busuttil said that as he was crossing over to Gozo, a Gozo Channel employee told him how he and his mates have been used by Labour. They had been promised they would be made to work for government, but instead they were shifted on to a contractor with bad labour conditions and in a precarious work engagement, while they work alongside people with a very different contract from them.
The Nationalist Party is in politics to serve people, not to get served by them. Labour, on the contrary, used its pre-2013 election campaign to make promises and get votes, then spent the next three and a half years fooling people. This week, Mario de Marco will unveil the party’s pre-Budget document, the second year running the party is doing so.
Dr Busuttil then proceeded to outline some of the salient proposals.
The party is committing itself that pensioners will not pay Income Tax on their pensions. If the prime minister finds it difficult to do this, it would have been better to do this instead of spending €100 million on a 24-member Cabinet.
PN will also propose to remove taxing of returns on investment by up to 35%.
The elderly will also be given by a PN government free access to medicines including those not at present on the free medicines list. They will not need to go begging to the President for money to pay for medicines. These commitments will cost some €9 million which the government can find by not giving eg €4 million to bail out Cafe Premier.
A PN government commits itself to provide free chemotherapy to all who need it.
As regards social housing, PN commits itself to reverse the increases the government has levied on housing rents. This was a tax on poverty.
At the same time, people in private rents are finding it hard to pay eg €500 a month to rent an apartment. A PN government will revert to a Chris Said scheme when a minister, to help those who rent from private investors.
Dr Busuttil, as Ryan Callus had done a few minutes earlier, referred to the meeting held with developers last week. The PN’s aim is to get developers improve the quality of life of the buildings they build.
Another PN commitment is to cut down the Capital Gains Tax if the developers build buildings with a high energy efficiency.
The same tax may be curbed in case of those who develop in areas that are declared to be in need of regeneration.
But the proposal that got the Nadur audience all enthusiastic was the one that promised less taxes for those who build in Gozo.
Further help will be given to developers as an incentive for them to purchase more eco-friendly equipment such as trucks or plant.
Dr Busuttil next referred to his proposal regarding the tram or light railway and its possible impact on Gozo.
“In the present situation, students from Gozo who study at the university hire a flat in Malta and then their parents move over to be near them. That is what is depopulating Gozo,” Dr Busuttil said.
“With the light railway plus the proposed tunnel between Malta and Gozo, people from Gozo can be at the university, the airport, Valletta etc in 30 minutes, and in the evening they can return back home and will not need to rent a place in Malta.
“The day after the PN announcement on the light railway, Minister Joe Mizzi announced he is commissioning a study on a light railway. Then he also announced a study on the MaltaGozo tunnel after three and a half years of doing nothing in this regard. The government is copying all that PN is doing.
“But the government does not get one thing right. To support Leo Brincat it clashed with the European Parliament. And after the announcement that Crane would be coming to Malta, it was discovered that the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister is the Malta agent for Crane’s equipment. So through this conflict of interest, if the Crane move succeeds, the Chief of Staff will be benefiting.
“The Joseph Muscat government is sending one clear message: anyone who wants to invest in Malta has to pass through a very narrow path. PN, on the contrary, will ensure a level playing field.
“The gas tanker, which was to have arrived in Malta by now, is now near Saudi Arabia. The whole business is very worrying. It makes no sense for Malta to have committed to take electricity from this plant for 18 years while it could get cheaper electricity from the Interconnector.”
Finally, Dr Busuttil referred to the MaltaToday opinion survey which shows that the difference between the two parties is now within the margin of error. That means that the election can go either way. In three and a half years the 36,000 Labour advantage has been whittled down what used to be seen as a 10-year task.
Dr Busuttil ended on a rising note, urging the party to work hard so as to win.