Malta, protests against the government on benefits fraud scandal
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A couple of thousands attended a protest called by the Nationalist Opposition late Monday evening following another protest held in the morning by the anti-corruption NGO ‘Repubblikà in Valletta after more details were revealed accusing high officials at the Office of the Maltese Prime Minister regarding their involvement in social benefits fraud scandal. A number of beneficiaries have spoken on illicit claims resulting in monthly payments from the Social Security Department, averaging approximately 450 per month.
Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech called on police commissioner Angelo Gafà to investigate the benefits-for-votes scandal that has engulfed Robert Abelàs administration. He accused the Prime Minister of “corrupt practices” to rig the 2022 election in his favour, and added that despite claiming his innocence, the prime minister was the “ring-leader” of what he described as “organized crime.” “This happened under Robert Abelàs direction and protection,” Grech said. He added that Abela “deceived” voters, who have been arraigned in court, the people who orchestrated the racket, and who forged medical certificates have not been brought to justice or shouldered political responsibility. On Sunday, Abela insisted that the government immediately put an end to the racket which saw hundreds of people receive severe disability social benefits despite not being eligible.
However, according to testimonials given by various beneficiaries, they were approached to benefit from the racket just before the election; months after former Labour MP Silvio Grixti resigned from parliament in December 2021 who was implicated as the point of reference in the scandal. Beneficiaries of fraudulent disability benefits revealed that middlemen linked with the government or the governing Labour Party encouraged people to obtain the benefits that they were not entitled to, and that in return they expected a vote and kickbacks.
Another protest was held in front of the Office of the Prime Minister with ‘Repubblikà President Robert Aquilina, stating “vulnerable individuals have been turned into accomplices in a criminal system which saw the involvement of persons of trusts, canvassers, and Labour Party officials.” The NGO’s president insisted that the brains behind the system, which saw hundreds fraudulently receive severe disability benefits to which they were not entitled, should be investigated and arraigned in court.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament President Roberta Metsola emphasised that the racket was far more than simply benefit fraud: it was, among other things, “corruption in exchange for votes.” “This is what happens when corruption is allowed to continue unabated when the crooks are protected, when politics is seen as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Metsola said. Malta, she added, needed zero tolerance for corruption and politicians who protect the public interest – who are held accountable if they don’t. “We need to clean up the system. And we will,” she concluded.
– Photo: fonte Partito Nazionalista –