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PN calls on Abela to 'take on political responsibility' for benefits racket

Prime Minister Robert Abela must shoulder political responsibility for the social benefits racket which has so far defrauded taxpayers of €2.1 million, the Nationalist Party said on Wednesday. 

PN MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici said one aim of the fraud was for the Labour Party could steal votes and steal thousands of euros from people’s pockets. 

“We are calling on Prime Minister Robert Abela to take on political responsibility,” she said. 

“What more does Abela know about this fraud? It seems that unfortunately, after many hours since the details of the racket have come out, we have a prime minister, who has nothing to say. A prime minister who is scared to take on responsibility.”

Times of Malta on Sunday revealed that hundreds of people were being investigated for fraudulently claiming monthly benefit payments averaging €450, with ex-Labour MP Silvio Grixti, implicated as having allegedly provided false medical documents to back up the claims.

Some 141 people have so far been ordered to return a total of €2.1 million, while hundreds more are still under investigation. 

Evidence seen by Times of Malta indicates that many of the claimants hailed from Labour strongholds like Żabbar, Żejtun and Paola.

On Tuesday evening, Abela said that no sitting MP is involved in the racket and that Castille had immediately taken action when it received reports of the allegations.

Mifsud Bonnici said the Labour government is built on ways to buy votes and steal money from the public, rather than working on ensuring there is enough help for the public, especially those who need it.

She also criticised Social Policy Minister, Michael Falzon, for his silence on the racket. 

“Why do we have a minister, a veteran minister who has had this portfolio for many years, who is also silent,” she asked.

“The ministry gave us details about how many people have been ordered to return the money, yet it failed to give us details about who, in the first place, gave this money to people who did not need it.”

She said it was clear that there were people involved in this benefit fraud scheme who deal with people every day, people involved in customer care of the minister and Castille customer care. 

“I ask Michael Falzon, are you checking who these people are? Are they in your department? In your ministry? In Castille?"

‘Why is there no magisterial inquiry on this case?’

Fellow PN MP Claudette Buttigieg asked why there is no magisterial inquiry on this fraudulent benefit scheme that has disgusted and angered the public. 

“No one has any doubt that this was set up by a criminal organisation, it was structured to ensure that you offer people something, these benefits, and you steal your vote,” she said.

She said she knew of many specialists who had their names on these fake documents, and they are "extremely disgusted". 

She also called for public service workers involved in this racket to "come clean".

“How can it be no one realised the large numbers of people gaining from these benefits?”

When asked by journalists if any PN MP is part of the abuse, Mifsud Bonnici appealed to the police to carry out their investigations and bring anyone forward who is responsible for this fraud deal.