HARD TALK 2

Once again Alice Taylor sits down with PN 9th District Candidate , Ivan Bartolo, to ask him more questions about his views on both PN and personal matters.

PN

1. We are lambasting the PL for allegations of corruption and sleaze, but the PN has had its own fair share of allegations- what is your response to this?

My message in this regard has been very consistent. Where there are human beings, there is corruption- this is a fact of life. The issue is that the level of corruption we have seen in this PL legislation in just four short years is twofold.

· Corruption is at the helm of government.

· Our Prime Minister has not at any point in time been proactive or prompt to take action.

I therefore fear and ask questions due to his reactive attitude towards corruption in his own office. This inaction locally and refusal to attend the Pana Committee meeting speaks volumes and should be a huge concern for anyone that has Malta’s interests at heart.

2. There are many people this year who have decided not to vote at all because they have become disillusioned with both parties- PL because of corruption, PN because people fear more of the “same old thing”. How would you convince these voters to do otherwise?

Life has thought me that one can take a horse to the water but one cannot make it drink. Deciding not to vote is still a decision and in my opinion it is the worst one from the options available. Not voting will not address the current challenges that our country is facing as we need a clean government to start picking up the pieces and restore our reputation. Who is best positioned to achieve this? We must let common sense prevail. This is not a beauty contest between political parties and their propositions, this is our country’s reputation and integrity on the world stage. For whatever perceived faults the PN may or may not have had in the past, they pale in comparison to what is being done by the PL now, the country needs to be taken out of their hands for the good of everyone in it.

3. What are Joseph Muscat’s biggest failures?

In my opinion his single biggest failure is that he promised one thing and he did completely the opposite. Unfortunately, many people are blinded by this “surplus” illusion and skewed statistics that they present as “progress”. But, this blindness has gone one step too far. We must not permit corruption, the hijack of our institutions and the complete destruction of our Maltese values. I honestly wish that our Prime Minister delivered on his 2013 election promises, for the good of the country that he is supposed to serve. He could have lead this country for at least 10 years in serenity and as a true winner, leader and statesman. Now, no matter the outcome on June 3rd, his reputation is tainted and I do not wish my young children to think that in life one can get away with day light robbery.

4. What are Simon Busuttil’s three biggest failures?

Simon Busuttil is the most successful MEP this country has ever produced. Simon found himself in one of the roughest corners that life can actually throw you in to. One must admire his perseverance and tact on how slowly but surely, he is getting out of the corner and pulling Malta behind him.

5. What are your views on the minimum wage and regulation of the rental market?

Personally, I understand the challenges pertaining to the minimum wage. As a nation, we want to remain competitive, the minimum wage earner wants more income and the employer wants to control cost. These are three agendas that pull us all in different directions.To be very frank and candid, I think the efforts announced in the last week or so are positive but I do not believe that there was an actual increase. I think that a more mature discussion needs to be undertaken with proper economic modelling, especially with input from employers as this can have a significant impact. There are various other means through which we can help such people and I think we need to have a broader debate and not one just focused on the minimum wage.

With respect to the rental market it is true that rents have spiralled and my worry is that eventually a market correction might take place. I do believe that social partners need to look at alternative housing but also government needs a proper strategy to address vacant housing and to embark on regeneration of dying communities and localities. This is most probably one of the biggest challenges Malta is facing and I think we need an innovative approach at how we can bring in a new lease of life in dilapidated localities. Urban planning is a challenge but I do believe that it presents a unique opportunity for Malta to create the new generation of housing and community life.Social housing is also another challenge and Simon Busuttil this week presented several proposals to this effect, including the increase of social housing by renting from the private sector and the continuation of schemes, and increasing their availability to divorced and separated couples, for first-time buyers. I believe the PN is being very proactive in addressing these challenges from a holistic perspective.

6. Are you for or against a coalition with the AD and PD?

Absolutely for. In this country we must learn more about working together, sharing responsibilities and above all to build on consensus. At this very point in time, given the significance of the next General Election, I think this was a positive outcome. I hope that Dr Godfrey Farrugia joins the PD as I had the pleasure to get to know the gentleman and there is no doubt he is an honest citizen with one interest at heart, MALTA.

7. What is your opinion on the PN/DB Group financial transactions?

Business transactions can be very simple.In this case,they have been complicated because of different agendas and motives.

8. Do you think it is appropriate for Mario de Marco’s firm to have involvement in the contract signed between the Sea Bank Group and the government on the ITS deal?

The market size in Malta is limited, hence, I have nothing against anyone doing work for anyone. What I would have expected is for common sense to prevail, that is, to proactively declare the business relationship.

Personal

1. What is your view on hunting? Do you think there should be tougher sentences on those that break the law?

My view is that the law should be followed, whatever it may be. The law is the law, no questions asked.

2. Do you agree with the PN abstaining from the 2014 Civil Unions Bill?

No in the same way I do not agree with anyone deciding not to vote at the next general election.

3. Where do you stand on MAP?

The actual contraceptive method does not bother me in the slightest. If however, the effect of the pill is in any way or form abortive than I am against it. I am not qualified to comment on the outcome or effect, hence I am commenting on my moral values.

4. Where do you stand on abortion?

I am 100% against abortion. I only find reason if there is a well-informed medical decision that the mother’s life is in danger.

5. Do you think planning laws need tightening? Do you think there is corruption within the planning department?

I think what lacks in the planning department is enforcement. We must re-engineer the business processes and workflow and deploy technology to eliminate the single points of human failure. Changing the law alone is not enough.

6. There is growing concern regarding the impartiality of the justice system and the Attorney General’s office- what do you think should be done about it?

Elect a PN Government and make sure that all the “Good Governance” propositions announced by the Nationalist Party in the first week of this campaign get implemented as soon as possible. That is the only way we are going to break this nepotistic link between elected officials and those in positions of power in authority.

7. The PL has announced huge, across the board tax cuts- what is your opinion on this?

Pure euphoria and panic. They are buying votes with our own money. Reducing tax is a good thing, but it needs to be structured and one must have a clear strategy on how such government revenue is going to be replaced. The various pledges that they have announced are completely and utterly unsustainable, there is no logical way that they can provide everything that they have promised- we do not have a bottomless pit of money!

My feeling is that the PL is doing its utmost to keep us happy with reduced tax rates and various other unsustainable promises, so that they can remain in power. I cannot help but wonder, if these things they are proposing are possible- why did they not implement them sooner?

We must remember that at the last election their pledge to reduce electricity bills by 25% had a personal motive behind as they wanted to build a new power station at all cost. Let’s be smart and understand their motives.

8. What is your opinion on refugees, asylum seekers, and 3rd country nationals coming to settle here legally?

They are welcome. We are Catholics and we must behave as such.

9. Do you have any business relationships through 6PM or any of its subsidiaries, with any PN candidates or members?

NONE WHATSOEVER

10. Do you think that a politician should implement policies that reflect the will of the people, even if they are not in line with his personal beliefs?

Yes. We must stop being a democratic republic and become a true democracy. The PN has already taken a bold step in the right direction with the launch of “Ideat” accessible through www.forzanoazzjonalit.com. We must implement a digital platform that empowers the citizens by giving them a voice through a mobile app. As I have said countless times before, a politician is there to serve the will of the electorate, not his own personal agenda. Whilst I believe one should always behave well and with a strict moral code, when you start governing with your own will rather than the peoples, you become more like a dictatorship.

11. With numbers of practising Catholics diminishing year on year, do you feel it is time to separate church and state? Do you think religion has a place in politics?

I think that religion is a personal affair. Both parties, that is the church and government are two separate institutions and my view is that they have two very different missions that unfortunately intersect. Their interaction must be managed and they must cease to influence each other.

12. Do you think the government needs to tackle intolerance, prejudice and discrimination against foreign individuals in this country? Would you agree with the statement that many Maltese citizens hold racist views?

I think most Maltese people are actual more afraid rather than racist. Their fear is expressed in a racist manner as their own ego does not permit them to admit their own fear. The majority of the Maltese people (no matter their background, education and walk of life) are actually nice, gentle and kind people at heart.

We therefore need to tackle intolerance, prejudice and discrimination through education- education that will make Maltese people more confident in the face of diversity and competition.

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