The PM should do door-to-door visits, says Abela

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Prime Minister should do door-to-door visits, Partit Laburista leader Robert Abela said on Sunday while speaking at a party activity held in Qormi.

The newly appointed Prime Minister said that he was not appointed as Prime Minister for Partit Laburista alone, but has become the Prime Minister representing the whole nation and therefore he should seek to reach out to everyone by visiting them at their house. He explained that no one should be excluded during such visits, as recalled his time during the election campaign when his team members would tell him to skip knocking at a door because “it was for nothing”.

On Sunday, Abela said that the government was delivering on bringing the calm after the storm, as he vaguely referred to the political crisis which hit the country in November. He explained that following the internal leadership election, the party emerged stronger since it was united and sought to place the country’s interest first over that of the party.

“We have brought back stability and normality in our country,” Abela claimed, noting that this was a strong message which was sent out to the nation since it united as one. He added that the young cabinet team which was balanced out with older members was energetic and looking forward to work, saying that this was just the beginning.

Speaking about the Prime Minister’s first official visit to the European Institutions, Abela described the meetings held as encouraging and productive. He took a dig at Partit Nazzjonalista’s MEPs who he claimed refused to meet him as one delegation along with Partit Laburista MEPs. He added that while he welcomes criticism, he will only seek to work with those “who love our country” describing the Nationalist MEPs as “negative”.

The PN MEPs held a meeting behind closed doors during which they urged the Prime Minister to take firm action against corruption. During the meeting Metsola and Casa told Abela to “walk the talk and take action on the never-ending list of corruption cases that took place under Joseph Muscat’s administration”. They also called on the Prime Minister to ensure that justice is truly served in the case of the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the stories she was killed for.

Abela claimed that during the meeting held with European Parliament President David Sassoli it transpired that the European Institution was taking note of the “bold changes” being brought about since Abela was appointed at the helm.

The Labour leader spoke about the negotiations on the multi-annual financial framework discussions currently underway covering the allocation of funds for the period 2020-2027. He said that Malta will not accept a situation in which the funds allocated to the country are decreased. Abela said that the country has new challenges and targets to reach.

“We’re committed to making the environment a priority,” Abela said.

The party leader also spoke about the challenge of migration, explaining that while the country cannot close its ports because there are genuine cases, it has been shown time and time again that the concept of burden-sharing does not work in practice.

“Migration is not Malta’s problem. Migration is not our problem alone. It is an international problem. It is a European problem,” Abela told the party supporters gathered.

The Opposition needs to cooperate with us

Referring to Opposition Leader Adrian Delia’s refusal to consult with him over the appointment of a new regulator for the cash-for-passport scheme, Abela accused the Opposition Leader of “abdicating his responsibility” when doing so. The Labour leader reiterated his promise of keeping the controversial scheme and strengthening it, if required.

He also referred to the need of having an Opposition which cooperates with the Government citing that such will be the case when implementing a new “corrective” mechanism to increase the representation of women in Parliament. Abela said that he was not happy with the amount of women elected in Parliament and this resulted in a “democratic deficit”. The new mechanism will ensure balance, Abela claimed as new seats will be added to be filled in with members of the gender which is least represented in Parliament. It is in this sense, that Abela was urging the Opposition to cooperate so that the necessary changes would be brought about.

Committee on the hospitals’ deal

On Saturday, the Opposition published an Evaluation Report which showed how the unknown company, Vitals Global Healthcare was awarded the concession to run three public hospitals. Referring to the publication, Abela remarked that while Opposition Leader Adrian Delia thought this was a winning move, he [Abela] had already appointed a committee which consists mainly of civil servants from various ministries including the Finance and Health Ministry and a legal team to take stock of the situation.

Abela explained that this committee will be looking into all the agreements signed before taking a decision on the matter.

Earlier this month, disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who resigned on 13 January accompanied Steward Healthcare International’s president Armin Ernst for a meeting with Abela and Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne, local media reported. Abela had said that Muscat did not represent the US-based healthcare giant at the meeting, but merely facilitated it.