Amoral idiots at the Planning Authority

The revelation that Jacqueline Gili, Director of Contracts at the Ministry of Finance and government appointee on the Planning Authority Board, was brought over for a meeting by a jet plane from Catania is shocking. It takes bad governance under this administration to a new level.

The declaration by PA Executive Chairman, Johann Buttigieg, that he would be an idiot to hire an executive jet next time in view of his not having any “political backing” for his decision to do so on this occasion identifies the real problem. Governance at the PA is dependent on political backing and not upon solid ethical behaviour. The authority has an amoral leadership and anything is permissible, as long as there is political backing.

The voting patterns of the Planning Authority Board members are clear enough. It is not rocket science to identify a priori which members of the Planning Authority Board are in favour and which are against controversial applications. They vary at times, but generally one can be 75 per cent spot-on in identifying who will vote “yes” and who will vote “no” on most applications.

This signifies that the jet plane decision was simply an exercise in ensuring that the potential yes votes were all on board. This in view of the large number of absences of Jacqueline Gili at Planning Board meetings in the recent past: she has not been present at  29 of the last 75.

I submit, however, that the jet plane issue almost pales into insignificance compared with the issue of conflict of interest at Planning Authority Board meetings. It has been said that two members of the Board had a conflict of interest in view of which they should not have participated in the meeting that considered and approved the dB Pembroke development proposal.

The two cases are however of a completely different nature.

The first conflict of interest is of Mellieħa Labour MP Clayton Bartolo. When prodded, after the decision was taken, the Hon Clayton Bartolo explained that his father and uncle are tenants of commercial premises owned by the dB Group: they are shareholders of a water sports company that operates from Silvio Debono’s Tunny Net Complex. The fact underlined by Hon Bartolo that the Bartolo relatives do not receive any payments from the dB Group is irrelevant. What is relevant is that, had Clayton Bartolo decided to vote against the dB Pembroke proposal, the existing commercial relationship between his immediate relatives and the dB Group would have been at considerable risk. This is what gives rise to Clayton Bartolo’s conflict of interest. He should have declared his interest before the PA Board meeting and not participated in the discussion and decision on the dB Pembroke project.

The second conflict of interest is much more serious. It involves PA Board member Matthew Pace and his shareholding in the Remax Estate Agency. Mr Pace’s interests in an estate agency is in direct conflict with his duties as a member of the Planning Authority Board. As a shareholder in Remax, it is natural for him to have an active interest in development permits as this would inevitably lead to more business for his agency. As a PA Board member, he should not have such an interest in any potential development permit as it would inevitably cloud his judgement in accessing and deciding on the applications for his consideration.

It is clear that Matthew Pace should have never been appointed in the first place and the fact that he was signifies the importance that the present government attaches to the ethical behaviour of its appointees.

It would be pertinent to also point out that Mr Pace is also Executive Director of MFSP Financial Management Ltd, an investment company which, last June, was fined €38,750 by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit for breaching a number of anti-money laundering laws. Reports in the press at the time indicated that the accounts in question belonged to Keith Schembri, Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and Adrian Hillman former Managing Director of Allied Newspapers.

This makes matters substantially easier to decipher: the useful idiots at the Planning Authority are in the good books of the powers that be at Castille. The buck therefore stops on Joseph Muscat’s desk: it is he who has to shoulder political responsibility for this mess.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 30 September 2018

Ħarsien għal min jixtri daru

minn Carmel Cacopardo

ippubblikat nhar l-Erbgħa 21 t’April 2010

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Għadu kmieni biex jiġi eżaminat l-effett tar-ri­for­­ma tal-liġijiet tal-kera. Iridu jgħaddu ftit tas-snin oħrajn biex dan ikun jista’ jsir. Li qed iseħħ bħalissa huwa l-aġġustament tal-kirjiet eżistenti. Kemm dawk residenzjali kif ukoll dawk kummerċjali. Aġ­ġus­tament li ilu jistenna aktar minn 60 sena biex isir!

Sadanittant in-nies tibqa’ tixtri l-proprjetà u kontinwament teżamina l-opportunitajiet li s-suq jipprovdi. Is-suq tal-kera jeħtieġ ftit tas-snin biex jiżvilup­pa mill-ġdid. Imbagħad ikun ap­prezzat li hemm ċirkostanzi fejn jaqbel li tikri flok tixtri pro­p­­rjetà.

In-nies li tixtri sfortunatament mhux dejjem hi konxja tad-drittijiet tagħha. Min ibigħ dan jafu sewwa u mhux darba jew tnejn li jkun hemm min japprofitta ruħu minn din is-sitwaz­zjoni. Huwa fl-opinjoni tiegħi meħtieġ li min ibigħ ikun obbligat li jipprovdi informazzjoni sħiħa u korretta dwar dak li qed jinbiegħ. Dan jgħodd kemm meta l-bejgħ isir direttament mis-sid kif ukoll meta jsir permezz ta’ aġent.

F’diversi pajjiżi oħrajn hekk isir. B’mod partikolari l-aġenti tal-proprjetà (‘estate agents’) għand­hom rwol importanti f’dan is-sens. Min jagħmel użu mis-servizz ta’ dawn l-aġenti ġus­tament jassumi li dawn jassi­guraw il-kwalità. Jiġifieri meta biex tixtri l-proprjetà tagħmel użu minn servizz ta’ aġent tal-proprjetà inti tassumi li dan l-aġent ikun diġà eżamina sewwa dik il-proprjetà. Tassumi wkoll li l-aġent ikun jista’ jiggwidak lejn dik il-proprjetà l-aktar addattata għall-ħtiġijiet tie­għek. Fl-ebda ħin ma jgħaddi­lek minn moħħok li meta aġent jaċċetta fuq il-kotba tiegħu xi proprjetà biex joffriha għall-bejgħ, din tkun difettuża, għax fost affarijiet oħrajn ma tkunx mibnija skont il-permessi. Meta tmur għand l-aġent tmur għax tafdah u allura tistenna li jagħtik l-informazzjoni kollha li tkun meħtieġa. Ma tistenniex li aġent ma jinformakx għax ma jafx, jew, agħar li jaħbilek informazzjoni biex ikun jista’ jdaħħal il-kummissjoni dovuta lilu mill-bej­jiegħ hekk kif jiġi negoz­jat il-bejgħ.

Sfortunatament l-affarijiet mhu­­­miex dejjem hekk. Għal­kemm in-numru ta’ każijiet mhu­­­wiex wieħed kbir, dan qie­għed dejjem jiżdied. Xi aġenti qegħdin joffru proprjetà li dwar­ha jew ma jagħmlux il-verifiki inkella jagħlqu għajnejhom għal dak li jaraw. Ma jiħdux pjaċir meta xerrejja potenzjali jirrealizzaw li kienu se jingidmu u wara li jieħdu parir ifittxu li jħassru kull impenn li jixtru jew konvenju li jkunu għamlu (meta dan ikun possibbli).

Dawk li jfittxu parir għax ma joqogħdux fuq dak li jgħidilhom l-aġent jagħmlu dan biex jassiguraw ruħhom li ma jin­gid­­mux. Sfortunatament iżda, hemm ftit, dawk li jafdaw wisq, li xorta jingidmu. Il-flus li jkunu laħqu ħallsu b’sagrifiċċju mhux dejjem ikun faċli biex jiġbruhom lura.

Mhux darba jew tnejn li ltqajt ma’ każijiet li l-proprjetà offruta għall-bejgħ minn aġenti tal-proprjetà tkun difettuża fis-sens li tkun mibnija b’mod li ma tkunx koperta b’permess tal-bini. Bosta drabi, għal min jif­hem, ma jkunx diffiċli li tiden­tifika dan il-fatt. Mhux il-każ li nsemmi hawnhekk każijiet spe­ċi­fiċi, iżda naf b’numru. Xi dra­bi l-problemi jitfaċċaw wara l-iffirmar tal-konvenju u xi drabi wara l-kuntratt ukoll.

Dawk li jixtru l-proprjetà jagħm­lu sagrifiċċji kbar biex ikunu f’pożizzjoni li jħallsu għall-akkwist li jagħmlu. Jagħm­lu użu minn dak li jkunu faddlu kif ukoll jissellfu mill-banek. Għand­hom dritt għal servizz ħafna aħjar milli qed jingħataw uħud. Min joffri jew jiffa­ċilita dan it-tip ta’ bejgħ qed jonqos u jagħti isem ħażin lil kul­ħadd.

L-ebda wieħed mill-aġenti tal-proprjetà ma jixtieq jieħu l-inizjattiva biex ma jaċċettax fuq il-kotba tiegħu proprjetà difettu­ża. Jippreferu li jaħslu jdejhom billi jgħidu li mhix res­ponsab­biltà tagħhom li jieħdu dawn it-tip ta’ deċiżjonijiet.

Ikun f’loku li l-aġenti tal-pro­prjetà jieħdu l-inizjattiva huma u jistabbilixxu bejniethom rego­li li japplikaw għall-aġenti kollha li bihom jipproteġu l-ewwel nett lill-konsumatur u b’mod indirett lilhom infushom ukoll. Jekk dan idum ma jsir naħseb li wasal iż-żmien li l-Parlament jikkonsidra li jirregola hu din il-ħidma. Għax il-konsumatur jeħ­tieġ li jkun protett minn sidien u aġenti bla skrupli.

Meta ser ikollna Ministru tal-Ambjent ?

pullicino_12.jpg 

F’Konferenza tal-ahbarijiet hdejn Pender Place San Giljan ( ara link http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/page.asp?n=newsdetails&i=11007) AD iffukat fuq l-effetti li progetti ta’ zvilupp massicc qed ihallu fuq ir-residenti.

Kemm progetti li bdew bhal Pender Place (San Giljan), Tigne Point (Sliema) u Fort Cambridge (Sliema), kif ukoll dawk li ghadhom jistennew bhal Mistra Village (San Pawl il-Bahar) u  Ta’ Masrija (Mellieha).

Iffaccjat bl-ilmenti tar-residenti l-Ministru Pullicino jghidilhom biex jikkunslaw ghax dan l-izvilupp ghandu l-effett ukoll li jgholli l-valur tal-propjeta taghhom.

Dan diskors mhux dehen ta’ Ministru tal-Ambjent, izda iktar ta’ Estate Agent.

Dan id-diskors juri insensittivita kbira. Progetti ta’ dan it-tip m’humiex mehtiega meta fil-pajjiz  hawn iktar minn 53,000 propjeta vojta, li jistghu jservu l-htigijet tal-Maltin ghal snin kbar minghajr ma jkun hemm bzonn ta’ dan il-bini kollu li ghaddej bhalissa.

Ghax l-uniku gwadann minn dan kollu huwa ghall-but tal-ispekulatur u ghal dawk li huwa jiffinanzja.

Meta l-Ministru jiehu pjacir u jipponta subghajh lejn iz-zieda fil-valur tal-propjeta bhala xi haga li ghalih hi posittiva, nissuggerilu jahseb ftit fl-effetti negattivi li dan qed ihalli fuq dawk iz-zghazagh li qed jissallbu ghal 40 sena biex ikollhom saqaf fuq rashom. Il-kuxjenza socjali fejn marret ? 

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu jaghmel sens li nistaqsu jekk wasalx iz-zmien li jkollna Ministru tal-Ambjent. Ghax donnu li ghandhom ragun dawk li jghidu li ilna ta’ l-anqas hames snin ma jkollna wiehed !