Malta
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Grech claims benefit fraud scheme is wider than what has been revealed

Opposition leader Bernard Grech rebuffed the government's claims that the scandal surrounding fraudulent disability benefits was not a vote-buying operation. 

Grech also claimed that there existed several other schemes in which "misuses were intertwined with electoral gains," are bigger than what has been revealed so far.

Speaking broadcast on the party's television network on Sunday, he said he would refrain from delving into the specifics of these alternative schemes at that moment. However, he mentioned the allocation of reserved parking spaces for individuals with disabilities.

"If abuse is occurring, those with disabilities who require reserved parking near their homes or workplaces may find themselves deprived of this essential service," he said.

Grech emphasized that ultimate responsibility for these events rested with Prime Minister Robert Abela, as "the buck stops with him." 

He criticised Abela for remaining silent on the scandal, thereby ensuring that any votes obtained through these means would not be lost.

Grech firmly rejected attempts to attribute blame solely to a single figure, such as former MP Silvio Grixti, who Minister Michael Falzon suggested had taken political responsibility for the affair. 

He argued that there were indications that certain abuses were still ongoing.

The PN leader also contended that the Labour Party was resorting to familiar tactics in response to the scandal, attempting to implicate Nationalist politicians in the scheme as a means of deflecting blame.

"I challenged Robert Abela to approach the police, but he neither did nor will... even questioned whether he had lost faith in the police commissioner, but the truth is that he is dissembling," Grech said.

He added that a thorough police investigation would likely unearth more misconduct within the ranks of the Labour Party.

Reflecting the PN’s Independence Day celebrations, Bernard Grech said it was “a week full of hope” in which the party was able to listen to people’s different opinions on how to make Malta a fairer and better country. 

“Our vision is for Malta to have a good reputation once again. ...In the past few years, Malta has made international headlines for all the wrong reasons, Daphne’s assassination, corruption in cabinet…this has impacted our reputation.”

He said the party wants to transform the country's economy into one that is based on quality and not quantity.