L-ostaklu tal-aċċess għall-informazzjoni hu delitt kontra d-demokrazija

Ir-rapport Annwali tal-Ombudsman għall-2017 li kien ippubblikat iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa hu inkwetanti. F’partijiet minnu, nazzarda ngħid li hu ukoll tal-biża’. L-Ombudsman jikkummenta fit-tul dwar “in-nuqqas tal-amministrazzjoni li tipprovdi informazzjoni”.

Josserva żewġ tendenzi ġenerali.

L-ewwel tendenza hi li diversi Dipartimenti tal-Gvern u Ministeri qed isibuha bi tqil biex jiżvelaw informazzjoni importanti. Il-kliem li l-Ombudsman juża’: “Sfortunatament l-amministrazzjoni pubblika – u dan jinkludi ukoll awtoritajiet pubbliċi – jidher li addottaw attitudni ġeneralment negattiva dwar l-obbligu li tkun żvelata informazzjoni u d-dritt taċ-ċittadin li jinżamm infurmat. Uħud marru fl-estrem li anke qed jirrifjutaw li jipprovdu kemm informazzjoni importanti kif ukoll imformazzjoni vitali li l-pubbliku hu ntitolat għaliha minħabba li din tikkonċerna setturi importanti tal-ħajja ekonomika u soċjali tal-pajjiż.”

It-tieni tendenza hi agħar: diversi ftehimiet li daħal għalihom il-Gvern fihom klawsola li tobbliga li jinżamm is-skiet dwar il-kontenut tal-ftehim. Dak li hu magħruf bħala “non-disclosure clause”. L-Ombudsman jgħidilna li issa hawn “żvilupp riċenti u Inkwetanti permezz ta’ attentat biex jiġi assigurat skiet totali hi l-prattika li torbot lil dawk li magħhom l-amministrazzjoni pubblika jkollha rabta kuntrattwali biex ma tiżvelax informazzjoni fil-kuntratti infushom mingħajr l-approvazzjoni tal-awtoritá pubblika.”

Issa fir-realtá, din il-prattika ma ġietx addottata f’daqqa waħda fl-2017. Kien hemm okkazjonijiet fil-passat meta l-Gvern rabat lil oħrajn inkella aċċetta li jintrabat hu stess li ma tkunx żvelata informazzjoni. Jidher imma li din il-prattika qed iżżid fil-frekwenza. Mhux biss il-kuntratt ta’ Henley and Partners dwar il-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza li fih dawn il-provedimenti imma ukoll il-kuntratt dwar il-privatizzazzjoni tal-lotteriji pubbliċi mal-Maltco kif ukoll il-ftehim dwar il-privatizzazzjoni parzjali tas-sistema tas-saħħa mal-Vitals Healthcare inkella l-ftehim mal-Electrogas dwar il-qalba għall-gass tal-impjant tal-ġenerazzjoni tal-elettriku f’Delimara.

Kif jista’ jkun li gvern jippretendi li jkun trasparenti u kontabbli meta juża’ jew jippermetti l-użu ta’ strateġiji bħal dawn li jostakolaw li tkun żvelata l-informazzjoni?

L-Ombudsman hu korrett li jipponta subgħajh lejn dan in-nuqqas bażiku ta’ servizz pubbliku li jridha ta’ wieħed ġust, effiċjenti, trasparenti u kontabbli. Jiena naħseb li dan hu daqstant importanti li jimmerita diskussjoni fil-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali – jekk din xi darba issir. Forsi wasal iż-żmien li tkun il-Kostituzzjoni innifisha li tillimita b’mod strett lill-amministrazzjoni pubblika milli tibqa’ tillimita l-aċċess għall-informazzjoni b’dan il-mod.

Hu meħtieġ li jkollna s-salvagwardji kontra dan l-abbuż sfaċċat li qiegħed jostakola l-aċċess għall-informazzjoni li għandha f’idejha l-amministrazzjoni pubblika. Is-salvagwardji jistgħu jinkludu l-possibilitá ta’ reviżjoni amministrattiva immedjata li tikkanċella l-ostaklu għall-aċċess kif ukoll passi biex dawk responsabbli biex jostakolaw dan l-aċċess għall-informazzjoni mingħajr raġuni valida ma jitħallewx iktar jeżerċitaw il-funzjonijiet ta’ uffiċċju pubbliku.

L-Ombudsman jispjega fir-rapport tiegħu li l-liġi tagħti lill-uffiċċju tiegħu l-għodda meħtieġa biex ikollu aċċess għall-informazzjoni li jeħtieġ ħalli “jmexxi l-investigazzjonijiet dwar l-ilmenti li jkunu waslu” avolja din l-informazzjoni xi drabi tingħata b’mod imqanżaħ. Iżda l-Ombudsman iqis li għandu jiġbed l-attenzjoni għal tlett ċirkustanzi partikolari “li juru kif ir-rispons negattiv tal-awtoritajiet pubbliċi meta dawn jintalbu informazzjoni qed ixekkel l-Ombudsman u lill-Kummissarji fl-uffiċċju tiegħu fil-qadi ta’ dmirijiethom”.

L-ewwel kaz jirrigwarda l-Armata. Ir-rifjut tal-Ministeru għall-Intern u s-Sigurtá Nazzjonali li jgħaddi l-files kollha dwar l-eżerċizzji ta’ promozzjonijiet għall-għola gradi fl-Armata issolva biss wara d-deċiżjoni finali tal-Qorti tal-Appell f’Ottubru 2016 liema deċiżjoni ikkonfermat li Ombudsman kellu l-obbligu li jinvestiga l-ilmenti li rċieva.

It-tieni kaz jirrigwarda ir-rifjut tal-Ministeru tas-Saħħa li jipprovdi l-informazzjoni mitluba mill-Kummissarju għas-Saħħa biex dan jipprovdi il-ftehim sħiħ ma’ Vitals Healthcare dwar il-privatizzazzjoni ta’ sptarijiet f’Malta u Għawdex li kien meħtieġ fl-investigazzjoni dwar jekk l-interessi tal-pazjenti u l-istaff (mediku) kienux adegwatament imħarsa.

It-tielet kaz hu dwar l-ilmenti kontinwa tal-Kummissarji fl-uffiċċju tal-Ombudsman (Saħħa, Ippjanar/Ambjent u Edukazzjoni) dwar id-dewmien li qed jirriżulta f’investigazzjonijiet li jkunu jeħtieġu konklużjoni immedjata. Dan minħabba n-nuqqas tas-settur pubbliku li jagħti tweġiba għat-talbiet diversi għal informazzjoni.

L-obbligu tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika li tiffaċilita l-aċċess għall-informazzjoni u d-dritt taċ-ċittadin li jkun infurmat huma bażiċi f’soċjetá demokratika. Attentati biex dan l-aċċess taċ-ċittadin għall-informazzjoni jkun imblukkat b’dan il-mod jimmina l-proċess demokratiku u dan billi ċ-ċittadin qed ikun ostakolat milli jifforma opinjoni fuq kif qed ikun amministrat l-istat. Dan qiegħed ukoll jostakola lil dawk l-istituzzjonijiet fid-dmir li jiddefendu ċ-ċittadin komuni milli jagħmlu xogħolhom.

F’isem Alternattiva Demokratika jiena nirringrazzja lill- Ombudsman talli qed ikun daqstant ċar fid-difiża tiegħu ta’ dak li hu bażiku f’soċjetá demokratika kif ukoll talli qed isemma’ leħnu b’vuċi ċara kontra dan l-abbuż ta’ poter.

Ippubblikat f’Illum Il-Ħadd : 10 ta’ Ġunju 2018

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Obstructing access to information is a crime against democracy

The Ombudsman’s 2017 Annual Report, published earlier this week, is very worrying. At times it makes scary reading. The Ombudsman comments at length on “the failure by the administration to provide information” and points at two general trends.

The first of these is the reluctance of various Government Departments and Ministries to disclose important information. The exact words  from the Ombudsman’s report,  which I quote verbatim, are: “Regrettably the public administration – and this includes public authorities – appears to have adopted a generally negative approach towards its duty to disclose information and the citizen’s right to be informed. Some have gone to extremes by even refusing to provide important and even vital information to which the public was obviously entitled since it concerned important segments of the economic and social life of the country.”

The second trend is even worse: various agreements entered into by government are containing a non-disclosure clause. The Ombudsman states “An even more worrying, recent development that has come to light in an attempt to ensure a total blackout of silence is the practice of binding parties with whom the public administration enters into contractual agreements not to disclose information on the contracts themselves without prior approval from the public authority.”

Now, in fairness, this practice has not been adopted suddenly in 2017. There have been a number of instances in the past where the government bound others, or else accepted to be bound, not to disclose information. Apparently this is now increasing in frequency. It is not just the contract with Henley and Partners on the sale of Maltese citizenship which contains such provisions but also the contract concerning the privatisation of the public lottery system with Maltco, as well as the agreements on the partial privatisation of the Health service with Vitals Healthcare as well as the Electrogas agreements in relation to the Delimara power station changeover to gas.

How can a government claim to be transparent and accountable when it uses or permits the use of the non-disclosure weapon?

The Ombudsman is right to point out this basic deficiency of a public service which pretends that it is fair, efficient, transparent and accountable. I consider that it is also of such importance that it merits discussion in the Constitutional Convention, if this is ever convened. Maybe it is about time that the Constitution should limit very strictly the use by the public administration of non-disclosure as a tool to obstruct the public’s access to information.

Safeguards are required against the abusive use of the non-disclosure of information held by the public administration. Such safeguards could include access to fast track administrative review as well as both publication of the suppressed information and the prohibition from holding public office of those found guilty of blocking the public’s access to information without valid reason.

The Ombudsman explains in his report that the law provides his office with the tools to ensure that it has access to the information it requires “to conduct its investigations into complaints received”, even though this information is at times made available very reluctantly. However, the Ombudsman considers it appropriate to underline three specific instances “that show how the negative response of public authorities to provide information hindered the Ombudsman and his Commissioners in the exercise of their functions”.

The first instance is that concerning the Armed Forces of Malta. The refusal by the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security to provide all files relating to promotion exercises in the top echelons of the AFM was only resolved after a definite decision of the Court of Appeal in October 2016, which confirmed that the Ombudsman had a duty to investigate the complaints received.

The second instance is that concerning the refusal of the Ministry of Health to comply with the request of the Commissioner of Health to supply “clean copies” of the agreements with Vitals Healthcare on the privatisation of hospitals in Malta and Gozo which were required in the investigation into whether the interests of patients and staff were being adequately protected.

The third instance is that of repeated complaints in all the reports of the Commissioners attached to the Ombudsman’s office [Health, Planning/Environment and Education] on the resulting delay in investigations which, by their very nature, require an immediate response. These delays are the direct result of the failure of various sectors in the public administration to submitting an expedient reply to requests for information.

The duty of the public administration to disclose information, and the right of the citizen  to be informed, is basic in a democratic society. Attempts to block the essential flow of information to the citizen through non-disclosure tools undermines the democratic process, as it blocks the essential elements required by the citizen in order to form a clear and unbiased opinion on the way in which the state is being administered. Moreover, it obstructs those institutions entrusted with defending the common citizen from carrying out their duty.

On behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party, I thank the Ombudsman for taking such a clear and unequivocal stand in favour of the basic tenets of democratic rule and against such blatant abuse of authority.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 10 June 2018

X’qed jaħbu f’Dar Malta fi Brussels ?

National Representations in Brussels

 

Fi studju mħejji minn ALTER-EU (Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation – grupp ta’ NGOs li jaħdmu favur it-trasparenza) ippubblikat f’Marzu li għadda ma tantx jidher li r-rapprezentanti ta’ Malta fi Brussels jipprattikaw wisq it-trasparenza.

Matul l-2015 ALTER-EU talbet lil diversi rapprezentanti ta’ pajjiżi membri fl-Unjoni Ewropea biex jinfurmawhom permezz tal-proċeduri tal-Freedom of Information Act dwar il-lista ta’ laqgħat li r-rapprezentanti ta’ Malta fi Brussels kellhom ma dawk imsejħa lobbyists – jiġifieri dawk li jfittxu li jinfluwenzaw it-teħid ta’ deċiżjonijiet u l-formolazzjoni ta’ policy fl-istituzzjonijiet ewropej.

Ir-rapprezentanti ta’ Malta fi Brussels (skond ir-rapport) kienu ta’ wieħed minn żewġ pajjiżi li irrifjutaw li jagħtu din l-informazzjoni. L-oħrajn kienu r-rapprezentanti tar-Renju Unit.

X’qed jaħbu f’Dar Malta fi Brussels?

 

Lobbying: influencing decision-taking

 

what to do

Lobbying risks corruption. Establishing clear standards of acceptable behaviour in public life ought to include the regulation of lobbying, yet the Standards in Public Life Bill currently pending on the Parliament’s agenda ignores this important matter completely.

Potentially, lobbying is not a dirty matter. It is perfectly legitimate for any citizen, group of citizens, corporations or even NGOs to seek to influence decision-taking. It is done continuously and involves the communication of views and information to legislators and administrators by those who have an interest in informing them of the impacts of the decisions under consideration.  It is perfectly legitimate that individuals, acting on their own behalf or else acting on behalf of third parties, should seek to ensure that decision-takers are well informed before taking the required decisions. Obviously, lobbying should not be the process through which the decision-takers make way for the representatives of corporations to take their place.

I am not aware of the reason why the Parliamentary Select Committee, led by Hon Speaker Anġlu Farrugia, failed to identify lobbying as a matter which requires regulation within the framework of the Standards in Public Life Bill. Perusal of the final report dated 24 March 2014, as well as the minutes of the Select Committee, does not reveal any indication that the matter was ever even mentioned in the Select Committee’s deliberations. In fact in my opinion, perusal of Parliament’s Motion 77, which contains the Select Committee’s terms of reference, indirectly includes lobbying as one of the matters which had to be examined.

Lobbying requires a considerable dose of transparency. It needs to be unchained from the shackles of secrecy. In other jurisdictions this is done through actively disclosing lobbying activities, thereby placing them under the spotlight of public opinion. The public has a right to know who is seeking to influence the decision-taking process and this helps ensure that lobbying is not used as a tool to secretly derail or deflect political decisions.

Other jurisdictions require that lobbying activities are documented and that the official being lobbied is always accompanied. Subsequently a list of lobbying meetings and the resulting documentation is released or made available. Such disclosure is normal in various democracies.

Lobbying can be regulated in two ways: by regulating the lobbyist activities and by regulating the potential recipient of lobbying.

The activities of the lobbyist can be regulated either through a compulsory registration of lobbyists or else through a regular disclosure of the names of those carrying out lobbying activities.

On the other hand, the potential recipient of lobbying ought to be regulated through a disclosure of all information related to lobbying, including minutes of meetings as well as any memoranda exchanged or submitted for the consideration of the decision-taker.

Full transparency is undoubtedly the best tool which – together with guidelines on the permissible receipt of gifts as well as whistle-blowing – will reduce the risk of lobbying being transformed into an instrument of corruption.

This is not all. Malta also requires rules that regulate the lobbying that is carried out through revolving-door recruitment. At times, this is the easiest way in which special interest groups recruit former Ministers, as well as the former high ranking civil servants regulating them, immediately on concluding their term of office. In this manner, they seek to tap contacts and quasi-direct access to or knowledge of information of extreme sensitivity. It also happens in reverse, when the public sector recruits lobbyists directly into the civil service without first having allowed sufficient time for cooling off so that former lobbyists thus recruited risk being Trojan horses in the public sector areas which previously regulated them.

If we are really serious about tackling corruption at its roots, it would be better if the need to regulate lobbying is urgently considered. Together with legislation on the financing of political parties just approved by Parliament (even if this is defective, as I have explained elsewhere), the regulation of lobbying would create a better tool-kit in the fight against corruption.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 26 July 2015

Tomorrow may be too late

today-tomorrow

The Guardian of Future Generations has spoken. The Guardian is under the leadership of Mr Michael Zammit Cutajar, former Climate Change Ambassador, as well as Mr. Michael C. Bonello, former Governor of the Central Bank of Malta, Dr. Roberta Lepre, Director Victim Support Malta and Ms. Simone Mizzi, Executive President, Din L-Art Ħelwa.

In a press statement issued on the 11 December 2013 the Guardian has added its voice to that of civil society. It has emphasised that prior to concluding and implementing piecemeal land use planning and environmental policies it was imperative that first and foremost a comprehensive holistic strategy is put in place. Until such time that a strategic vision is in place, stated the Guardian, it would be reasonable for current policy initiatives to be put on hold.

The Guardian is diplomatic in the language it uses. It certainly makes political statements none of which are however partisan. All environmental issues, including land use planning issues, are definitely political issues in respect of which all stakeholders have a duty to speak up.

The Guardian of Future Generations speaks up on behalf of the voiceless future. In Malta, giving a voice to the future was an initiative taken by Alternattiva Demokratika, the Green Party. It was acknowledged by the then Minister for the Environment Mario de Marco when piloting the Sustainable Development Act in 2012 which adopted the said proposal.

Our actions today can have a considerable impact on the future. It is imperative that the choices we make today ensure that future generations can also freely make their own decisions. We cannot ethically ignore the future. If we keep living for today, ignoring tomorrow, precious resources which must be protected today, will be lost forever. Michael Zammit Cutajar who chairs the Guardian Commission has in fact emphasised that: “un-built space and unspoilt views are among the scarcest resources of our densely populated country”.

We need to be extra careful. Too many mistakes have been made in the past. The legacy of the past is tough enough. We are in time to avoid adding to it.

The Guardian has announced in its press statement that, in accordance to its mandate, it has presented a submission with its views to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and other government officials. This refers to the provisions of article 8 of the Sustainable Development Act of 2012 which establishes that the Guardian shall direct the focus of the Prime Minister (who is the sustainable development competent authority) to safeguard future generations. The Guardian is also empowered to “propose goals and actions to government entities for them to take up in order to contribute towards the goal of sustainable development.”

The next step is undoubtedly the publication by Government of the views submitted by the Guardian. It would be preferable if government takes the initiative as the matter is of specific interest to the public. Obviously if the government fails to take this initiative there is always the possibility to demand its publication through applying the provisions of the Freedom of Access to Information on the Environment Regulations of 2005 (Legal Notice 116 of 2005). Government taking the initiative would always be preferable as this would demonstrate its willingness to engage with stakeholders.

The above is a good start to the Guardian of Future Generations making its presence felt. It is however just the tip of the iceberg.

The Guardian requires its own resources to pursue other areas of policy. Foremost amongst them is the sustainable management of water resources. Whilst acknowledging that Government is currently preparing a water consultation document it is to be emphasised that there are areas of action which cannot await the said consultation process. There is little water left to protect and further procrastination will only make matters worse. Tomorrow will be too late.

In February 2012 the Auditor General had through a performance audit pointed out the deficiencies in the public administration of water resources. In his report entitled “Safeguarding Malta’s Groundwater” the Auditor General whilst noting that we have an abundance of policy documents pointed out  implementation delays as a consequence of the non-adherence to the stipulated target dates.

Not much has been done since February 2012. Obviously the political responsibility has to be shouldered by the former government which talked a lot but did not do much except commission reports. It invariably failed to take the tough action required.

Safeguarding tomorrow is a difficult task. Tomorrow’s generations, the generations of the future, have no vote, hence they have not been considered as an important constituency by those whose time horizon rarely exceeds five years. The Guardian of Future Generations has the unenviable task to sound the wake up call.

Tomorrow, which as singing doctor Gianluca Bezzina tells us, is just one day away, may be too late. All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.

published in The Times of Malta – Saturday 4 January 2014

On this same blog, on the issue of Future Generations you may read the following posts:

The Future started yesterday.

Exercise in practical democracy.

Gwardjan għal Ġenerazzjonijiet Futuri.

Increasing environmental awareness.

Future Generations must be heard.

Just lip service and cold feet.

Mill-Manifest Elettorali ta’ AD dwar bidliet fil-Kostituzzjoni : (5) Ħarsien u Protezzjoni

whistleblower

(5)     Ħarsien u Protezzjoni

Il-Libertà tal-Informazzjoni, l-Protezzjoni tad-Dejta u d-drittijiet tal-whistleblowers għandhom jiġu ddefiniti kif xieraq u inkorporati fil-Kostituzzjoni.

(silta mill-Kapitlu Numru 6 tal-Programm Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika)

Qabel ma tfaċċa Franco Debono

L-Onorevoli Franco Debono donnu jaħseb li qabel ma tfaċċa hu ħadd qatt ma tkellem dwar il-liġijiet elettorali u l-finanzjament tal-partiti.  Fil-fatt fil-blogpost tiegħu tat-8 ta’ Settembru 2012 qalilna :

“If AD had any sort of rudimentary strategy they would take up my proposals for reform in the electoral law and party financing instead of playing Austin Gatt s game who has been against both.” [Nota miżjuda t-Tnejn 10 ta’ Settembru 2012: il-blogpost hawn fuq ikkwotata jista’ jkun hemm diffikultajiet dwarha għax għal xi hin illum tneħħiet minn fuq il-blog ta’ Franco Debono. Ma kien hemm l-ebda spjegazzjoni għal dan.]

Tajjeb li jkun jaf li id-dinja kienet teżisti ħafna qabel ma tfaċċa Franco Debono.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha titkellem fuq dawn l-issues (liġijiet elettorali u finanzjament tal-Partiti) għal snin twal u dan flimkien ma issues oħra bħall-Whistleblowers Act u FOI (Freedom of Information Act) sa mit-twaqqif tagħha fl-1989.

Ikun aħjar li kienu min jtkellem u/jew jikteb jiċċekkja ftit l-affarijiet qabel ma jħarbex jew jiftaħ ħalqu.

Ir-Riforma tal-MEPA : (6) Konklużjoni

Matul dawn l-aħħar jiem fuq dan il-blog fissirt fehmti dwar l-aspetti prinċipali li naħseb illi riforma tal-MEPA għandha tindirizza.

L-ebda riforma m’hi ser tirnexxi jekk dawk li eventwalment iridu jamministrawha ma jħaddnux bis-serjeta’ l-prinċipji ta’ trasparenza u kontabilita. Il-ħidma kollha trid tkun fil-beraħ, u kulħadd irid jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu. Miż-żgħir nett sal-kbir nett, bla eċċezzjoni.

Riforma tal-MEPA biex tkun effettiva tirrikjedi ukoll miżuri oħra, li mad-daqqa t’għajn jistgħu għal uħud jidhru li ma tantx għandhom x’jaqsmu. Dan irid jinvolvi liġi li tirregola l-finanzjament tal-politika, t-twessiegħ tad-dritt għal informazzjoni (presentement eżistenti b’mod limitat) u liġi li tipproteġi lil min jikxef l-irregolaritajiet, ċjoe Whisteblowers Act.

Mhux kulħadd jistenna l-istess riżultat mill-MEPA. L-industrija tal-bini w l-iżviluppaturi jistennew li l-permessi ta’ żvilupp ikunu f’idejhom malajr u mingħajr ħafna mistoqsijiet. Ir-residenti u l-ambjentalisti jistennew li joħorġu inqas permessi kif ukoll li tonqos l-art li tingħata għall-bini.

Ir-realta’ hi li l-MEPA m’għandhiex tibqa’ tiġi meqjusa bħala magna tal-permessi tal-iżvilupp, iżda ta’ tarka tal-komunita li tinkuraġixxi dejjem żvilupp li jkun sostenibbli. Jiġifieri dik il-ħidma li meta sseħħ, filwaqt li tkattar il-ġid ekonomiku, ttejjeb l-infrastruttura soċjali u tkun kompatibbli (il-ħin kollu) mal-wirt ambjentali tagħna u mal-eko-sistema li minnha niffurmaw parti.

Imma dan ma jikkuntentax lil kulħadd. Għalhekk isiru kemm isiru riformi l-MEPA ser tibqa’ kontroversjali.

F’dan il-kuntest naħseb illi riforma tal-MEPA għandha fl-istadju inizzjali tindirizza s-segwenti :

  1. il-ħtieġa li l-Ministru responsabbli għaliha jagħraf jagħti direzzjoni filwaqt li jeżiġi kontabilita’ sħiħa mingħajr ma jindaħal fil-ħidma ta’ kuljum,
  2. in-neċessita’ li l-ħidma tal-MEPA tkun sorveljata kontinwament biex min hu responsabbli għaliha jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu kuljum, dan jgħodd kemm għal politiku kif ukoll għat-tekniku,
  3. il-ħatra ta’ l-aħjar nies; issa dan hu ftit diffiċli minħabba li mhux kuħadd huwa lest li jagħti servizz pubbliku; il-kompetenza mhux il-fehma politika għandha tkun ir-riga li biha jitkejlu n-nies li jintagħżlu;
  4. il-kunflitt ta’ interess għandu jkun indirizzat minnufih, preferibilment jiġi evitat, u m’għandux jitħalla jakkumula b’mod li eventwalment jhedded il-kredibilita’ ta’ kulħadd inkluż ta’ l-istituzzjoni nnifisha.

Emendi fil-liġijiet jistgħu jkunu neċessarji iżda l-parti l-kbira tad-diffikultajiet tas-snin passati jistgħu jkunu indirizzati b’suċċess kemm-il darba jistabu l-persuni addattati.

Għalkemm jidher li hemm il-volonta’ li dan isir, huwa ż-żmien li ser jagħtina parir.

  

(tmiem)  

Open Government : A Green Choice

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Open government : A Green choice

Saturday’s election will determine the composition of Parliament and subsequently a government which enjoys the confidence of the elected MPs who will be entrusted with overseeing the workings of government and ensuring its accountability.Since 1966, members of Parliament in Malta have belonged to just two political parties. The only exception resulted from the expulsion of Wenzu Mintoff from the MLP Parliamentary Group in the late 1980s, which led to the formation of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party in Malta.In my view, MPs on the government side have throughout the years had considerable difficulty in holding their colleagues to account for the simple reason that loyalty to party assumed priority over loyalty to country. If this were not so Parliament would have forced the hand of many a Prime Minister over the past 42 years.The Maltese Greens are once more proposing three initiatives which will lay the foundations for an open government in Malta thereby making it easier for Parliament to act and hold the government continuously to account. These are the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act, a Whistleblowers Act and legislation to regulate the financing of political parties. (Prior to implementing these proposals, a reform of Mepa cannot be carried out adequately.)Other parties have also taken up these proposals. This is more than welcome as it may eventually be part of the policy overlap on the basis of which a coalition agreement can be negotiated next week when the first Green MPs make it to Malta’s Parliament.As a general rule, information on the activities of the state and its organs should be freely available. Active disclosure of information without awaiting a demand for its release should be the norm. Exceptions should be limited and well defined. These would include matters impinging on the security of the state and the privacy of individual citizens. Accountability of the government towards Parliament as well as towards the electorate can only be ensured if information on its activities flows immediately, freely and constantly.

The enactment of a Whistleblower Act will ensure that “the conspiracy of silence” which shores up pockets of irregular activity, mismanagement, corruption as well as general abuse of authority is spotlighted through the granting of immunity from criminal and civil action to those who reveal information that would otherwise remain secret.

Regulating the funding of political parties would ensure that reasonable donations would be registered and made public whilst substantial donations (even under the guise of loans as the recent Blair experience in the UK has indicated) would be outlawed. This would reduce the possibility that donors would pay their way through thereby enriching themselves at the taxpayers’ expense.

One-party government has failed to introduce these measures and thereby has done this country a disservice. Election of the first Green MPs on Saturday will reverse this and lay the foundations for an open government.

It is the only realistic choice. It is available if you vote for it on Saturday.

Mr Cacopardo will be contesting Saturday’s general election on a Green ticket on the third and 11th electoral districts.

cacopardocarm@euroweb.net.mt

This article is published in The Times today Thursday 6th March 2008

Koalizzjoni = Gvern ta’ Kulħadd u għal Kulħadd

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L-Alternattiva Demokratika ma ivvintatx il-kelma koalizzjoni. Iżda għamlet użu minnha f’din il-kampanja elettorali biex twassal messaġġ politiku qawwi. Messaġġ li wasal u li qiegħed jinftiehem.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni jfisser Gvern magħmul minn iktar minn Partit wieħed. Gvern allura li għandu viżjoni politika iktar wiesa’ minn dik tal-Gvernijiet li bħala pajjiż aħna mdorrijin bihom.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni jkollu politika li tagħti każ tal-aspirazzjonijiet ta’ kulħadd mill-perspettiva tal-partiti politiċi li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni. Huwa Gvern li ma jarmi lil ħadd għax kulħadd huwa validu, kulħadd għandu kontribut. Il-kontribut ta’ kulħadd huwa apprezzat.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni ma jarmix nofs il-popolazzjoni biex jaqdi parti min-nofs l-ieħor. Iżda jservi lill-popolazzjoni kollha. Biex jagħti dan is-servizz jagħmel użu mit-talenti ta’ kulħadd. Kulħadd jista’ jagħti kontribut biex dan il-pajjiż jimxi l-quddiem. Mhux biss dawk li jivvutaw lill-partiti li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni.     

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni huwa l-unika garanzija li dan il-pajjiż jista’ jkollu li l-vendikazzjonijiet u d-diskriminazzjoni politika ma jibqawx għodda ta’ amministrazzjoni politika f’dan il-pajjiż.

Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni jfisser li l-ebda partit politiku waħdu ma jkollu iktar il-poter assolut f’dan il-pajjiż. Il-poter assolut jikkorrompi l-istituzzjonijiet u jirrendihom servi ta’ partit u mhux iktar tal-pajjiż.

  

Hawn min qiegħed ixerred il-biża’ kontra l-idea ta’ Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni. Fir-realta’ biża kbira qed issaltan fost dawk li bi Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni ma jkunx iktar possibli għalihom li jibqgħu jiġbdu l-ispag u b’hekk imexxu l-pajjiż minn wara l-kwinti.

  

Il-pedamenti tal-ħidma politika ta’ Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni huwa għalhekk li jkollna Gvern miftuħ (open government), trasparenti u li jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu il-ħin kollu, kull jum tal-eżistenza tiegħu. Fost il-miżuri basiċi li l-Alternattiva qed tipproponi hemm liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti, li jiġi stabilit darba għal dejjem id-dritt tal-informazzjoni kif ukoll li tingħata l-protezzjoni (permezz ta’ Whistleblower Act) lil min jikxef il-ħmieġ u l-irregolaritajiet fl-amministrazzjoni pubblika.

  

Dawn huma l-pedamenti ta’ Gvern ta’ Koalizzjoni li ser ikollna fi ftit jiem oħra. Gvern li jkun ta’ kulħadd u li jservi lil kulħadd.