Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech said Sunday that the people are starting to “see through Robert Abela’s gimmicks” and were fed up with the way that he is leading the country.
Grech was speaking in a radio interview on Nationalist Party media, where he was asked about the spate of power cuts which plagued the country in the last week, the developments in the Jean Paul Sofia case, and the cost of living crisis.
Asked about the power cuts, Grech said that his first major concern is that “Robert Abela and his friends” – a phrase he used consistently throughout his interview to describe Labour’s government – are “not recognised that we are in a national crisis.”
“They are out of touch and do not understand the cries of the people; and there is nothing worse than having a Prime Minister and party in government which totally ignores the suffering that the people are going through,” Grech said.
He said that the spate of power cuts – which have now gone on for seven days – are down to bad planning on the part of the Labour government and that the people are suffering the consequences of how their money has been thrown around.
“Millions were invested in corruption, not in you,” Grech said.
He said that an example of this is from Gozo General Hospital where the electricity went out in recent days. A generator kicked in, Grech said, but this was not strong enough to power all of the air conditioners in the hospital, leaving many in a less than ideal situation.
“So after they gave €400 million to Steward and Vitals, there still isn’t a decent generator! You can see how you are paying for their corruption,” he said.
“Don’t forget that they don’t want to get that money back because they choose their friends over you. They forget about you, and act as misers around you – they will only remember you around two or three weeks before the election when they will send you a cheque. But the people today can see through Robert Abela’s gimmicks,” he continued.
He recounted the experiences of some who had been in contact with him. One person said he was forced to spend a night in a hotel after five nights without electricity and had to throw away €250’s worth of meat.
Another – a triple bypass patient who has been operated for cancer twice – reported being without power, water, internet, telephones and mobile reception for hours.
“Can you live a life of quality without these things today? But Robert Abela says that there’s no crisis. He went to have a look at the trenches… but PR doesn’t solve a lack of electricity – it is solved by having a plan and a vision which isn’t importing 30,000 foreigners every year and then trying to find what to blame when the country’s infrastructure cannot keep up,” Grech said.
He criticised Energy Minister Miriam Dalli for telling people to turn off their air conditioners and Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli for suggesting that people read a book, calling them insensitive and arrogant.
Grech said that the PN remains focused not just on exposing Labour’s shortcomings, but on the solutions, noting that the PN has always been known for forward planning – so much so that even Joseph Muscat had praised Lawrence Gonzi for his foresight to start works on the interconnector between Malta and Sicily.
He said that as soon as Labour came to power, they enjoyed the fruits left over from the Nationalist administration, but then stopped investing.
“They invested in their pockets, in hidden companies, persons of trusts, and for them and their friends to do as they please and become millionaires: and who is suffering for that? We, the people, are,” Grech said.
He said that a new plan for the economy is needed as if the current economic model of importing thousands of foreigners continues, then “everything will collapse.”
On the developments on the case of Jean Paul Sofia, Grech praised the construction collapse victim’s parents – whom he will be nominating for the Gieh ir-Repubblika award – saying that they are “a symbol of people who cannot accept the status quo” and that only more people like the will get the country “out of the hole Robert Abela has dug us into.”
Grech detailed how he “appealed” to Abela and his parliamentary colleagues to vote in favour of the public inquiry, but they refused to do so – only for Abela to “humiliate his parliamentary group” by committing a u-turn five days later.
He said that thousands attended last Monday’s vigil – including many Labourites who had spoken to him – and also said that it wasn’t true that Magistrate Marseann Farrugia had requested an extension for her inquiry, as Abela said she did as he justified the appointment of a public inquiry.
“There is a united front of Maltese and Gozitans – PN, PL, and those with no party – who do not want Robert Abela to keep leading in this manner. We aren’t going to let you break this cross-party unity,” Grech said.
The PN leader also spoke briefly about cost of living, saying that Abela blaming the problem on price hikes abroad was a “dangerous and irresponsible move” because he gave the opportunity to those “who do not have a conscience” and indirectly told them that they can increase their prices and he will keep apologising on their behalf.
He said that many prices did indeed rise due to international circumstances, but said that there are others who are abusing of the situation.
He quoted a raft of the PN’s past proposals, saying that the party in government would fight the cost of living crisis by strengthen already existing high-value economic sectors and not keep importing more and more foreigners to Malta’s shores, amongst other things.