Miriam Dalli accuses PN of changing manifesto on website

Labour candidates Miriam Dalli and Rebecca Buttigieg went head-to-head with PN candidates Claudette Buttigieg and Joseph Grech for a televised debate on TVM

Labour candidate Miriam Dalli accused the Nationalist Party of changing their manifesto multiple times since it was first uploaded to their website. 

During a televised debate on TVM, Nationalist MPs Joseph Grech and Claudette Buttigieg repeatedly hit out at the Labour Party for not presenting an election manifesto three weeks into the campaign.  

“They had all the chance in the world to decide when to call it. They called it, and they still don’t have a manifesto of proposals,” Grech said.  

Dalli immediately came out guns ablaze, accusing the Nationalist Party of changing their manifesto multiple times since it was uploaded to their website.  

“They said they were prepared, imagine if they weren’t,” she remarked, adding that the last change made to the manifesto was on Monday afternoon. 

Dalli held up screenshots taken from the manifesto showing how one proposal on Malta Enterprise was amended. The initial pledge said that the Nationalist Party would set up a Malta Enterprise office in Gozo, but an office was already up and running on the island. 

The proposal was later reworded to say that the party will strengthen Malta Enterprise’s presence in Gozo.  

Claudette Buttigieg turned the discussion back on the Labour Party’s manifesto, or lack thereof. 

“We can’t reveal what mistakes they’ve made in their manifesto because they don’t have one yet,” she said.  

Buttigieg clarified that the manifesto had to be updated because of a mistake in the page numbering, but refrained from commenting on the other changes. 

Later in the debate, with a printed copy of the manifesto in hand, Buttigieg promised that the PN will work on the proposals printed in the booklet.  

Labour candidate Rebecca Buttigieg rebutted this. She remarked that having a printed manifesto doesn’t mean that the Nationalist Party will stick to it.  

Indeed, Buttigieg recalled how Bernard Grech admitted to a mistake in their printed proposal on pre-1995 rent reform. “Should we believe you or the Nationalist Party leader?” 

She added that PN spokesperson Peter Agius and other candidates announced a range of animal rights proposals on the same day that the party’s manifesto was published.  

“If you look at the manifesto, they hardly feature,” she said. “There are just three proposals.” 

Joseph Grech questioned the Labour Party’s credibility, citing recent U-turns on the Marsaskala marina project and the transfer of land at Żonqor Point. 

“The biggest threat to our economy is the greylisting that the Labour Party put us through,” he said.  

Grech went on to mention a Labour Party billboard that featured a raft on Nationalist Party members and journalist Manuel Delia, who has since distanced himself from the party. 

“The last time Labour had a journalist on a billboard she was killed,” he added. 

He further accused the Labour Party of throwing money at their problems. He referred to a scheme announced by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia last September to allocate €300,000 for urban greening in 11 localities.  

“Now this urban greening will cost €700 million, I don't know what sort of costings the Labour Party did,” Grech said. 

Dalli recalled how four Nationalist MPs were “kicked out” of the party candidate list on the first day of the election to make way for new blood. “It’s the same old rhetoric.” 

“If you vote for Bernard Grech you’ll end up being led by people like Karol Aquilina, Beppe Fenech Adami, Jason Azzopardi. There’s nothing new,” she said. 

Dalli further accused the Nationalist Party of scaremongering and convincing people they will lose their job after Malta was placed on the FATF greylist. 

She hit out at the Nationalist Party’s pledge to add 50,000sqm of public land to Malta’s outside-development-zone (ODZ). Bernard Grech had said that the White Rocks area in Pembroke will be the first to be turned into an ODZ area if elected to government. 

ODZ areas would require a two-thirds parliamentary majority to be developed under the PN’s pledge. 

“He said they will make it ODZ so that any development is done transparently – does he want it to be ODZ or not?” she questioned.  

Dalli then referred to a PN pledge from the party manifesto to ensure the right of legal persons resident in Malta to open a bank account with basic services.  

“This right was introduced in 2018 for everyone to have a basic bank account,” she said.  

In their own pledge, the Labour Party extends this right to company bank accounts.  

A second debate will be held on Wednesday evening and broadcasted on TVM.