Bernard Grech blamed Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday for failing to take the necessary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 this summer.
Addressing party supporters on the PN’s radio station, the Opposition leader said that despite a change in tourism minister, Malta had experienced another “failure” in dealing with the pandemic.
Earlier in July, Malta was placed on the EU’s red travel list as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to spike.
While around two-thirds of daily cases registered in past weeks are non-residents, at least a quarter of the country’s active COVID-19 cases are young students who travelled to the island this summer. Several COVID-positive students have already been repatriated.
On Sunday, Grech held the Prime Minister responsible for what happened over the past two summers.
‘Increased scrutiny: a greylisting effect’
Grech also blamed Abela and the Labour government for increased scrutiny by banks and notaries.
“The series of personal questions that notaries have to ask prospective property owners, or bank cashiers have to pose to clients depositing or withdrawing their own money is an effect of the [Financial Action Task Force’s] greylisting.
“Because of Abela and the PL government, people are being automatically considered criminals,” he said.
In June, the FATF placed Malta on its greylist, reflecting significant deficiencies in the country’s anti-money laundering and funding of terrorism framework.
A month later, the UK placed Malta among the list of high-risk countries for money laundering and terrorist financing.
However, Grech also said during the interview, that instead of looking at the past, Malta needed to focus on how to get off the grey list.
The PN, he added, could meet Malta’s counterparts abroad and defend the country without hanging its head in shame.
“A PN government would also be free to take any necessary decisions and call for investigations about politicians and former prime ministers. I’m not Robert Abela and as a prime minister I would be able to take all the important and urgent decisions.”
On Sunday, the Times of Malta reported that the Labour Party would win a general election by more than 50,000 votes, securing 57% of the electorate’s support if a vote were to be held today.
According to the survey, the gap is 3.7% wider than the 2017 general election result that saw Labour return to power with a historic majority.
‘Dozens helping the PN behind the scenes’
The survey results were published on the same day that former director of the European Parliament Office in Malta and PN MEP candidate Peter Agius announced he will take on the role of chief spokesperson for the party, a new role to consolidate the party’s communication strategy.
Meanwhile, former Lovin Malta founder Christian Peregin is joining the PN as its electoral campaign strategist.
On Sunday, Grech said Peregin and Agius were just two people who had chosen to make a difference, and dozens of others were helping the party from behind the scenes.
He added that Peregin and Agius’ move had encouraged others to do the same.
And despite the party going through a renewal, with fresh faces taking on new roles, those who had spent years being of service to the country were still valued and could continue to do so.
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