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'License to kill': Grech says TM racket shows government willing to risk lives

The driving licence racket exposed by Times of Malta was a license to kill by a government who was willing to do everything - including risking people's lives - to remain in power, Bernard Grech said on Sunday.

The PN leader was reacting to revelations about a racket through which many candidates were fast-tracked or helped to get a driving licence, and which led straight to former Transport Minister Ian Borg. 

WhatsApp chats obtained by Times of Malta show Borg, his canvasser Jesmond Zammit, and his ministry personnel regularly piled pressure on Transport Malta’s director of licensing Clint Mansueto to "help" candidates at different stages of the licensing process.

A customer care official from the Prime Minister's office, as well as the Prime Minister's personal assistant and the Gozo Minister's chief of staff also passed on the names of candidates.

But on Sunday, Robert Abela defended Borg while addressing supporters at a PL activity, heaping praise on officials whom he said did their utmost to help people.

Addressing PN party supporters, Grech meanwhile said the Times of Malta revelations showed the goverment was willing to do everything to remain in power.

“This scandal is shameful… they are playing with people’s lives. How can every person involved [in this racket] have a conscience to allow someone to drive on our roads when they know they are dangerous? License to kill.

“How can a public official who has children - if they don't care about other children - move things around for a person to get a license when they know they are not roadworthy, and that this person could kill their children? This is how dangerous the situation is. It is surreal.”

Quoting from the Times of Malta report, Grech said in one instance, Mansueto replied to a former member of Borg’s customer care team that a candidate had not done too bad, but lacked experience on powerful motorcycles. 

“Good. What’s important is that he’s done. It’s his problem now,” the official had replied.

But Grech said the problem was not solely the candidate's, but everyone else's.

"It is our problem," he said, recalling that the PL had promised meritocracy if elected to power.

"What happened and what is still going on in other sectors is the antithesis of meritocracy. The state of our country is a problem for all of us," Grech said, adding that voters could be part of the solution if they voted PN.

While insisting he was not drawing comparisons, Grech said Sunday marked the 18th anniversary of the tragic death of five Qrendi youths in a Żebbuġ traffic crash. 

He said the island had past experience of road deaths and needed to learn: "we cannot live in a situation were there are not even limits when it comes to our children's lives".

Grech also questioned the police's action over the "clear criminal acts".

While Abela had failed the country when it came to accountability, security and correctness, the institutions had failed as they allowed themselves to be controlled.

'Abela wants to burden country with foreigners'

Fielding questions about the party's consultation with civil society about the country's future, Grech said he expected the Finance Minister to provide a clear sign about how he was planning to change the country's economy.

Abela did not want to change the country's economic model, and still wanted to "burden the country with tens of thousands of non-EU foreigners", Grech quipped.

In dealing with the increased cost of living, a PN government was willing to give employers tax credits so that the increased expenses were not reflected in higher prices for consumers.