Watch: ‘Proud’ Abela falls short of congratulating Metsola, cites reservation

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Prime Minister Robert Abela has fallen short of congratulating Partit Nazzjonalista MEP and head of delegation Roberta Metsola on her appointment as First Vice-President of the European Parliament, saying that he has a reservation about her ‘crusade’ against the golden passport scheme.

Fielding questions from the media following the inauguration of a new pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Corradino to Paola, Prime Minister Abela said “Firstly I congratulate any Maltese or Gozitan citizen for their success and am proud of their achievements, however, I have a reservation on Robert Metsola […] but we can never have a convergence due to her crusade against the citizenship by investment scheme.”

Last week Metsola was elected to the office of First Vice-President of the European Parliament, becoming the first Maltese person to hold one of the top jobs within the European institution. Metsola also made history by becoming the highest-ranking Maltese ever within the European Parliament.

Abela maintained that his reservation does not concern Metsola’s criticism of the PL-led administration as some of the criticism levelled at the government could be justified, however, her ‘crusade’ against the golden passport scheme was not justifiable, he said.

Abela referred to a recently signed agreement by which the government approved a €5 million grant from the National and Social Development Fund to the Puttinu Cares Foundation to enable it to invest in more apartments in central London. He remarked that the NSDF receives contributions from the sales of passport and without which such projects cannot be financed. He underlined that social causes are financed through this fund.

Puttinu will also receive €2.5 million besides €70,000 a year for every patient.

“My question for Roberta Metsola is, is she trying to score political points by destroying this programme?” Abela said.

Under scrutiny

In October, the European Commission launched legal action against Cyprus and Malta over the golden passport schemes for wealthy investors, saying they were illegal and undermined EU citizenship.

The commission wrote to both countries demanding explanations as well as it warned that the schemes increased the risks of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.

By obtaining a Maltese passport and therefore a European one, those who buy citizenship are given the right to travel, live and work freely in all 27 members of the bloc.

Too blinkered to see beyond party brief; Metsola grateful to PL members who reached out

First EP Vice-President Roberta Metsola reacted to the news saying that she is grateful to the members of his cabinet and PL members who got in touch.

The office of Roberta Metsola underlined that whoever Abela chooses to congratulate is up to him, saying that Metsola never asked him for anything nor has she expected any different from him.

“But that he is too weak, too insecure, too blinkered, to see beyond his Labour Party brief or that he only sees the country in shades of red or blue should tell you all you need to know about the man and how far out of his depth he is in the office he holds,” Metsola said.

She added that she is grateful to the cabinet members and PL members that have understood what this meant for the country and for every girl and boy looking at getting involved in politics.

“My message to them, particularly all the girls, reading this is: Keep standing up. Do not let Malta’s geographic realties hold you back, we are not as small as our Prime Minister seems to think – there is no limit to your potential.”

Video: Miguela Xuereb