Edward Scicluna u l-bajtar tax-xewk

Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa, l-President tal-Kummissjoni tal-Unjoni Ewropea, Ursula von der Leyen, ippreżentat lill-Parlament Ewropew pjan ta’ €750 biljun biex inqumu fuq saqajna. Pjan li jista’ jiġġenera investiment stmat €3.1 triljun fl-ekonomija Ewropea. Permezz ta’ għotjiet flimkien ma’ self, il-Kummissjoni Ewropea qed tfittex li tegħleb l-impatti ekonomiċi negattivi tal-Covid-19 kif ukoll li tagħti bidu għall-azzjoni meħtieġa biex ikun implimentat il-Ftehim l-Aħdar (the Green Deal).

It-triq biex nirkupraw mhiex faċli. Mhux il-każ li mmorru lura għal kif konna. Dak spiċċa. Irridu nimxu l-quddiem lejn normal ġdid. Li nintegraw flimkien il-ħidma biex nirkupraw mill-impatti tal-pandemija flimkien mal-azzjoni meħtieġa dwar it-tibdil fil-klima mhux ser tkun faċli imma hi essenzjali u mhux possibli li tkun posposta. Kif ġie emfasizzat fuq Euroactive nhar l-Erbgħa, it-triq biex nirkupraw tiddependi minn ħafna kundizzjonijiet konnessi mal-ambjent. 25 fil-mija tal-finanzjament propost mill-Kummissjoni Ewropeja hu fil-fatt marbut ma’ ħidma klimatika.

Edward Scicluna, il-Ministru tal-Finanzi, fl-ewwel reazzjoni tiegħu għall-pjan tal-Kummissjoni ikkummenta mħasseb dwar miżuri prattiċi konnessi mal-klima. Bħala gżira ser inweġġgħu ħafna qal, jekk jindirizzaw l-emissjonijiet tal-ajruplani u l-vapuri. Il-pjan, qal Edward Scicluna, jixbah lill-bajtar tax-xewk. Scicluna jippreferi li ma jsir xejn ħlief paroli. L-anqas m’hu jieħu pjaċir b’dak li qed jingħad dwar it-tassazzjoni tal-kumpaniji, avolja konxju li m’għadx baqa’ żmien biex fl-Unjoni Ewropea tħajjar kumpaniji jibqgħu jħarbu l-obbligi tagħhom tal-ħlas tat-taxxi.

Hu korrett li jingħad li ser nintlaqtu bil-miżuri dwar il-klima. Hekk għandu jkun, għax il-ħidma tagħna għandha impatt fuq il-klima. Nistgħu imma ninnegozjaw biex dawn l-impatti fuqna jonqsu mingħajr ma nnaqqsu l-impenn (reali) tagħna biex ikunu indirizzati l-impatti klimatiċi tal-industrija tal-avjazzjoni u tal-vapuri. Bla ebda dubju dan ser ikun ifisser impatti sostanzjali kemm fuq it-turiżmu kif ukoll fuq il-kummerċ.

Dan ma jistax ikun evitat għax dawn l-industriji għandhom l-obbligu li huma ukoll jġorru fuq spallejhom l-impatti li qed jikkawżaw. Dak hu li wegħdna bħala pajjiż fis-Summit ta’ Pariġi dwar il-klima. Wasal il-waqt li nwettqu dak li ġie imwiegħed. Biex niġu fuq saqajna irridu nfasslu l-futur mill-ġdid. Il-ħsara li teħtieg li tissewwa mhiex biss dik ekonomika u ambjentali. Jinħtieġ li tul l-Unjoni Ewropea kollha nibnu s-solidarjetà fuq pedamenti sodi. Dak li Edward Scicluna jqis bħala l-bajtar tax-xewk huma fil-fatt l-għodda bażiċi tas-solidarjetà.

Għax is-solidarjetà hi meħtieġa mhux biss meta aħna bir-raġun kollu nokorbu ma’ kull mewġa ta’ immigranti fl-ibħra Maltin. Is-solidarjetà hi dak li Malta tinjora meta tfittex li tkun attraenti għal min irid jevadi t-taxxi f’pajjiżu: dawk li jħallsu ftit lill-kaxxa ta’ Malta biex jevitaw milli jħallsu l-biljuni band’oħra. Il-politika dwar l-armonizzazzjoni tat-tassazzjoni fl-Unjoni Ewropea hi r-risposta bis-sens għall-politika li tinkoraġixxi l-evażjoni tat-taxxa f’Malta, l-Olanda, il-Lussimburgu u l-Irlanda.

L-Oxfam f’rapport ippubblikat fl-2019 u ntitolat “Off the Hook. How the EU is about to whitewash the world’s worst tax havens” temfasizza li “l-Irlanda, il-Lussimburgu, Malta u l-Olanda huma fost il-pajjiżi li l-iktar jinkoraġixxu l-evażjoni tat-taxxa fid-dinja, b’mod li jagħmluha possibli li kumpaniji kbar jirnexxielhom iħallsu ammont żgħir ta’ taxxa. Per eżempju, ir-regoli internazzjonali tat-taxxa jippermettu lill-Vodafone Group Plc biex jallokkaw kważi 40 fil-mija tal-profitti taxxabbli tagħhom f’Malta u l-Lussimburgu.”

Rajna ukoll rapporti dwar il-BASF, ġgant fl-industrija kimika fil-Ġermanja, li jispjegaw kif din tevadi t-taxxa. Fir-rapport tal-Ħodor Ewropej ippubblikat fl-2016, intitolat “Toxic Tax Deals. When BASF’s Tax Structure is more about style than substance” kien spjegat kif il-BASF irnexxiela tevadi madwar biljun euro f’taxxa, u minflok ħallset ammonti żgħar bil-kompliċità ta’ Gvernijiet Maltin: ħomor u blu.

Jeħtieġ li l-ewwel u qabel kollox nirkupraw l-imġieba etika tagħna, anke qabel ma nirkupraw ekonomikament u ambjentalment. Ir-riġenerazzjoni tal-valuri tagħna għandha tkun prijorità qabel ma nippruvaw insewwu l-kaxxa ta’ Malta li minnha, bħalissa ħerġin il-flus maħmuġin akkumulati mill-bejgħ tal-passaporti. Flejjes miġburin minn persuni bħall-biljunarju Russu Boris Mints, l-Eġizzjan Mustafa Abdel Wadood, il-biljunarju Ċiniż Liu Zhongtian, in-negozjant Russu Pavel Melenikov u l-Iżraeli Anatoly Hurgin, li irnexxielhom jiżgiċċaw minn eżami suppost rigoruż u ngħataw iċ-ċittadinanza Maltija: però xorta spiċċaw għaddejjin proċeduri kriminali f’diversi pajjiżi oħra primarjament dwar frodi u ħasil tal-flus!

F’dan iż-żmien ta’ ħtieġa l-Ministru tal-Finanzi Edward Scicluna spiċċa dipendenti fuq flejjes li oriġinaw minn dawn is-sorsi maħmuġin. Ma tkunx esaġerazzjoni li ngħid li spiċċa dipendenti minn flus li oriġinaw mill-kriminalità.

Fir-reazzjonijiet tagħha għall-proposti tal-Kummissjoni tal-Unjoni Ewropea Evelyne Huytebroech, waħda miż-żewġ mexxejja tal-Partit tal-Ħodor Ewropej, emfasizzat li din il-proposta flimkien ma dik tal-Parlament Ewropew u l-proposta Franco-Tedeska ilkoll qed jaraw proċess ta’ self komuni. Dan hu pass il-quddiem għas-solidarjetà Ewropea. Għax is-solidarjetà tinbena bil-mod u bit-tbatija. Imma għal Edward Scicluna dan kollu bajtar tax-xewk!

ippubblikat fuq Illum :il-Ħadd 31 ta’ Mejju 2020

The recovery plan and Edward Scicluna’s prickly pears

Earlier this week, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, presented for the consideration of the European Parliament a recovery plan worth €750 billion but which can unleash an investment estimated at €3.1 trillion in the EU economy. Through a combination of loans and grants the EU Commission seeks to integrate the reversal of the economic downturn resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic together with the action required to implement the Green Deal.

The road to recovery will be tough. It is not the case of going back to normal but of going forward to a new normal. Integrating the recovery from the pandemic impacts with climate change action will not be easy but it is essential and cannot be postponed. As emphasised by Euroactive on Wednesday, the road to recovery has plenty of green strings attached. 25 per cent of the funding proposed by the EU Commission is in fact earmarked for climate action.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, in his first reaction to the recovery plan, voiced concern on practical climate action measures. It hurts, he says, to address air traffic emissions or shipping pollution. As an island this would impact us substantially. The proposed recovery plan is comparable to prickly pears, he stated. He prefers the status quo: all talk and little walk. Edward Scicluna is not amused by rumblings heard on corporate taxation even though he is well aware that the days of attracting corporations seeking tax havens within the EU may well be numbered.

It is correct to state that we will be impacted substantially. We can however negotiate to reduce such impacts without diminishing our commitment to addressing climate change impacts of the airline and shipping industry. This would mean significant impacts on tourism and trade. These however cannot be avoided as climate change impacts have to be internalised: that is they have to be shouldered by the industries generating them. This is what we promised in the Paris Climate Summit. Promises that we must now honour.

Operation recovery must re-design the future. It must not be just an economic recovery or an environmental rebirth. It must also be a recovery of practical solidarity all over the Union. What Edward Scicluna views as prickly pears are in fact instruments of solidarity.

Solidarity is not just what we rightly cry for when immigrants crash through our borders. Solidarity is what we ignore when Malta insists on being attractive to tax evaders: those who pay peanuts to the Maltese exchequer in order to avoid paying billions elsewhere. The issue of tax harmonisation on an EU level is the sensible response to the tax haven fiscal policies of Malta, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Ireland.

Oxfam in its 2019 report entitled “Off the Hook. How the EU is about to whitewash the world’s worst tax havens” emphasises that “Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands are among the most significant tax havens in the world, enabling some of the biggest corporations to pay minimal amounts of tax. For example, currently, international tax rules allow Vodafone Group Plc to allocate nearly 40% of its taxable profits to Malta and Luxembourg.” We have also seen reports on BASF clearly explaining how the German chemical giant avoids paying taxes due. The European Greens report “Toxic Tax Deals. When BASF’s Tax Structure is more about style than substance” published in 2016 had outlined how BASF had successfully avoided close to a billion euros in tax, paying just a small amount thanks to Maltese governments blue and red.

The recovery must be primarily ethical before being economic and environmental. Regenerating our values should be a priority higher on the list than the regeneration of our coffers, currently dishing out dirty money originating from the sale of citizenship schemes. Monies collected from the likes of Russian billionaire Boris Mints, Egyptian national Mustafa Abdel Wadood, Chinese billionaire Liu Zhongtian, Russian businessman Pavel Melenikov and Israeli Anatoly Hurgin, who slipped through what is described as a rigorous due diligence process and gain Maltese citizenship only to be prosecuted in different jurisdictions for various crimes primarily fraud and money laundering.

It is indeed telling that in time of need Finance Minister Edward Scicluna is dependent on monies originating from such dubious sources! It would not be an exaggeration to state that he is dependent on the proceeds of crime.

In her reaction to the EU Commission proposals Evelyne Huytebroech co-Chair of the European Greens emphasised that the EU Commission’s proposal together with the proposals of the EU Parliament and the Franco-German initiative all foresee a mutualised debt instrument: a major breakthrough for European solidarity. Solidarity is constructed slowly and painfully, while Edward Scicluna juggles with his prickly pears.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 31 May 2020

Kull qalb trid oħra

Bħalkom qrajt l-istorja dwar ir-rappurtaġġ fuq it-TV Franċiż. Dwar dawk li qalu li jiġbdu l-ispag biex jieħdu li jridu meta japplikaw biex klijenti tagħhom jixtru ċ-ċittadinanza Maltija.

Jidher li hemm doża qawwija ta’ ftaħir biex jimpressjonaw klijent, imma xejn ma nieħodha bi kbira li x’imkien hemm xi toqba, kbira jew żgħira. Hemm ir-regolatur li għandu l-għodda biex jinvestiga. Nifhem li għalhekk ġiet sospisa l-liċenzja temporanjament. Nistenna, ħa nara għandux il-kuraġġ jirrapporta xi ħaga!

L-istorja l-kbira imma, naħseb li mhiex dik tal-passaporti. Hi l-istorja l-oħra tan-negozjant li lmenta li ħallewh barra meta qassmu l-Bajja ta’ San Ġorg. Dan jidher li kellem lill-Ministru Cardona li wassal l-ilment lil sieħbu Konrad, il-Ministru tat-Turiżmu. Konrad ħakk rasu u qallu li l-bajja żgħira, ftit hemm post, imma ser jara x’jista’ jsir.

Sa hawnhekk xejn ġdid. Imma hemm iktar. Hu hemm fejn hu ta’ tħassib.

Ġie rrappurtat li Cardona bagħat messaġġ lil Konrad u qallu li lil din il-familja jeħtieġ li tingħata l-għajnuna għax “huma dejjem tawna l-għajnuna.”

Il-mistoqsija sempliċi hi “din, x’għajnuna hi?” Ma jidhirlix li rajt xi għajnuna finanzjarja minn din il-familja dikjarata fir-rapporti tad-donazzjonijiet. Mela allura x’tip ta’ għajnuna hi din?

Biex ma ninftiehemx ħażin mhux qed nilmenta li din il-familja tagħti għajnuna lil partit politiku. Imma qed niġbed l-attenzjoni li hemm limitu għal x’tip ta’ għajnuna tista’ tingħata. Din hi ukoll regolata bil-liġi.

Ikun tajjeb li dan ikun iċċarat. L-ebda investigazzjoni ma hi ser tasal biex tistabilixxi preċiżament x’inhu jiġri issa, imma xi darba xi ħadd jisparla u forsi jkun hemm xi indikazzjoni tan-natura tal-ġenerosità kbira ta’ din il-familja.

Għax kif qal Cardona lil Konrad kull qalb trid oħra. Anke fir-Repubblika tal-Banana.

It-tieġ ta’ Venezja u l-ħasil tal-flus

 

Diversi qed jistaqsu għalfejn dan l-għaġeb kollu dwar min attenda għat-tieġ li sar Venezja fejn iżżewweġ dak li sa ftit ġranet ilu kien iċ-Chairman u s-sid tal-bank Pilatus, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad.

Kull wieħed minna għandu l-obbligu li joqgħod attent biex dak li jagħmel fil-ħajja privata tiegħu jew tagħha ma jirriflettix ħażin fuq il-ħidma pubblika tiegħu jew tagħha. Biex inkun ċar, meta ngħid il-ħidma pubblika mhux qed nillimita ruħi għall-politiċi.

Sfortunatament għal bosta sar qiesu xejn m’hu xejn.

L-arrest fl-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika ta’ Ali Sadr Hasheminejad sar il-ġimgħa l-oħra. Kien arrest dwar ksur tal-liġijiet Amerikani fuq is-sanzjonijiet kontra l-Iran.

Imma kien ix-xahar l-ieħor li l-European Banking Authority fetħet inkjesta preliminari dwar is-sorveljanza li l-MFSA għamlet fuq il-bank Pilatus u b’mod partikolari dwar id-due diligence meħtiega biex ikun stabilit is-sors tat-€8 miljuni kapital inizzjali biex fetaħ il-bank.

L-issue tal-ħasil tal-flus ilha tissemma xhur sħaħ fil-konfront tal-bank Pilatus.

Il-mistoqsija allura li teħtieġ tweġiba hi dwar jekk kienx hemm preżenti għal dan it-tieġ f’Venezja persuni li x-xogħol tagħhom ta’ kuljum jikkonċerna s-sorveljanza kontra l-ħasil tal-flus.

Biex inkun l-iktar ċar possibli ħa nikkwota ir-rapport ta’ Lovin Malta li ġie ippubblikat il-bieraħ il-Ħadd 25 ta’ Marzu 2018. Jgħid hekk :
“Also present at Ali Sadr’s wedding was Juanita Bencini, a consultant at KPMG – the auditors of Pilatus Bank. Bencini is President of the Institute of the Financial Services Practitioners and chairs the IFSP’s Prevention of Money Laundering And Funding Of Terrorism committee. She is also board member of the government’s finance promotional arm FinanceMalta and chairs the anti-money laundering committee of the Malta Institute of Accountants.

She was accompanied to the wedding by her husband Austin Bencini, who sits on the board of directors of Allied Newspapers – which owns The Times of Malta.”

Ikun interessanti ħafna jekk inkunu nafu x’taħseb l-MFSA dwar dan. U kif qegħdin fiha l-korpi professjonali tal-accountants u l-awdituri jistgħu jilluminawna ftit ukoll!

L-etika professjonali fejn hi?

 

Min hu bħal Pilatu?

Li Pilatu jkun fl-aħbarijiet lejliet kull Ġimgħa l-Kbira hu normali.

L-akkużi gravi fi New York kontra ċ-Chairman tal-Bank Pilatus Ali Sadr Hasheminejad kienu ilhom ikunu investigati sa mill-2013. Id-delitti finanzjarji fl-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika jidher li jeħduhom bis-serjetá. It-tmexmix tal-fenek probabbilment jitħalla għal wara s-sentenza.

Waqt li fl-Istati Uniti kien qed ikun investigat iċ-Chairman tal-Bank Pilatus f’Malta l-MFSA kienet qed tagħmel due diligence dwar l-istess bank. Mid-dehra l-MFSA kienet sodisfatta b’dak li rriżultala tant li fl-2014 ħarġet il-liċenzja tal-Bank.

Ilna nistaqsu dwar kif dan il-Bank ħa l-liċenzja. Għax hu diffiċli biex tifhem kif inhu possibli li fl-Istati Uniti l-Bank ikun taħt il-lenti u qed jiġi investigat u f’pajjiż ieħor fl-istess ħin jinfetħulu l-bibien beraħ u jingħata l-liċenzja.

L-MFSA għandha ħafna x’tispjega.

Hu meħtieġ li l-MFSA stess tkun investigata biex ikun stabilit x’irriżulta waqt il-proċess tad-due diligence u jekk kienx hemm min għalaq għajnejh. Fi ftit kliem: d-due diligence sar bis-serjetá jew le?

L-istejjer li ilna nisimgħu dwar il-Bank Pilatus matul dawn l-aħħar xhur misshom ilhom li wasslu għal azzjoni drastika. Meta illum l-MFSA damet ġurnata sħiħa tiddelibera dwar x’ser tagħmel kont nistenna li tkun sospiża l-liċenzja tal-Bank inkella li l-MFSA taħtar amministrazzjoni temporanja u indipendenti għall-bank biex ikunu assigurat li jekk hemm xi provi li jistgħu jixħtu d-dawl fuq dak li għaddej, dawn ikunu ppreservati.

Għax ngħiduha kif inhi, li bank ikollu lill-Gvern tal-Azerbajan bħala klijent ewlieni tiegħu kellha tiftah għajnejn kulħadd li hemm xi ħaġa mhux f’postha. Għax il-Gvern tal-Azerbajan hu magħruf bħala wieħed mill-iktar Gvernijiet korrotti fid-dinja.

Kif ngħidu, ma min rajtek, xebbaħtek.

Xi ħadd qed jaħsel idejh bħal Pilatu.

Joe Sammut kien waħdu?

who-is-itjoe_sammut_auditor

L-akkużi kontra Joe Sammut huma serji ħafna. Huma tlettax fil-għadd. Jinkludu t-twaqqif ta’ kumpaniji foloz f’Malta , il-ħasil ta’ flus, frodi, falsifikazzjoni ta’ dokumenti ……………..   Dan kollu biex numru ta’ ċittadini Libjani tal-flus, ikunu jistgħu jakkwistaw permess għal residenza f’Malta u b’hekk jaħarbu minn pajjiżhom.

Hemm mijiet ta’ kumpaniji b’sidien Libjani li Joe Sammut qed jingħad li ħoloq f’Malta. In-numru jidher li hu ftit inqas minn 900.

Tħallsu eluf ta’ euro għal kull każ. B’kollox il-miljuni ta’ euro.

Biex Joe Sammut ħoloq dan kollu bla dubju kellu min jgħinu f’postijiet stateġiċi, għax, skond ma jingħad, lill-klijenti tiegħu kien jaqdihom malajr ħafna. Hekk għamel sakemm kien hemm min induna u informa lill-Pulizija li wara li investigaw bdew il-proċeduri l-Qorti.

S’issa taw ix-xhieda tagħhom tlieta mill-klijenti ta’ Joe Sammut. Tul il-ġimgħat li ġejjin naraw min iżjed kien fix-xibka.

It-timbru tal-Mafja u l-‘Ndraghetta

diligence

 

L-ebda Awtorità f’Malta m’hi ser tgħidilna x’verifiki għamlet qabel ma ħarġet il-liċenżji. Dan jgħodd ukoll għal dawk il-liċenzji li ġew sospiżi dan l-aħħar wara l-ħruġ ta’ mandat t’arrest Ewropew għal sitt ċittadini taljani . Qed nirreferi għal dawk li kienu involuti fil-logħob tal-azzard elettroniku liċenzjat : iGaming jew remote gaming.

Li kieku l-Awtorità tagħti din l-informazzjoni ma tkunx serja għax tkun qed tikxef idejha!

Jibqa’ peró l-fatt li wara li ilna snin nisimgħu dwar kemm Malta hi l-iktar pajjiż serju f’dan il-qasam, tfaċċaw dawn il-każi. Ir-reazzjoni ġenerali hi li dawn qed jitfgħu dubju fuq is-serjetà li ilna nisimgħu biha.

Biex tgħaxxaqha kien hemm wieħed avukat li qalilna li ankè hu jagħmel il-verifiki (due diligence) dwar il-klijenti tiegħu. Peró dan l-avukat qalilna iktar minn hekk. Għax qalilna x’verifiki jagħmel. Fi stqarrija li huwa stess ħareġ dan l-avukat informa lil kulħadd li l-kumpanija tiegħu tivverifika l-passaport, il-kondotta tal-Pulizija kif ukoll li min japplika jkollu residenza fissa u li din tkun dokumentata.

Issa din l-informazzjoni hi kollha importanti. Li jkollok passaport validu, indirizz fiss u kondotta tal-Pulizija huwa tajjeb bħala punt tat-tluq. Imma ma naħsibx li hu biżżejjed biex tinduna jekk klijent huwiex assoċjat mal Mafja jew mal-‘Ndraghetta. . Imma wisq nibża’ li ftit li xejn qed isir tiftix iktar minn hekk għax kieku hu impossibli li jkun hemm daqstant li qed jiġru warajhom il-Pulizija Taljana u jinstabu fostna.

Wara kollox ħadd ma għandu timbru fuq moħħu jew fuq il-passaport li hu assoċjat mal Mafja jew mal-‘Ndraghetta.

Jiena ma naħsibx li xi ħadd hawn Malta fid-deher fittex li jissieħeb mal-kriminalità organizzata f’dan il-qasam. Probabbilment li kienu huma li bi ħsieb fittxew li jinqdew b’dawk il-professjonisti li isimhom ħasbu li seta jiftħilhom il-bibien mingħajr ħafna mistoqsijiet li huma jqisu żejda.

Hemm bżonn li l-verifiki jsiru ferm aħjar minn dak li jidher li sar s’issa. Fuq kollox hemm bżonn li titneħħa s-segretezza minn dan il-qasam.

Għax għalkemm in-numru ta’ dawk li qed ikunu kawża ta’ problema huma ftit, kull wieħed hu żejjed.

Tgħid nitgħallmu mill-iżbalji?

malta passport

Huwa ta’ sodisfazzjon li l-Gvern u l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja waslu għal ftehim dwar l-iskema ta’ ċittadinanza.

Il-bieraħ fil-għaxija tħabbar li wara diskussjonijiet kien hemm qbil li l-iskema ta’ ċittadinanza ser tkun emendata biex tinkludi l-obbligu ta’ residenza ta’ sena. Dan hu tibdil radikali għall-iskema u jagħmel l-iskema kompletament differenti.

Ser ikun hemm min jargumenta dwar jekk sena huwiex perjodu qasir. Bħal dejjem hemm argumenti validi li jiġġustifikaw attitudni bħal din. Ser jibqa’ min hu kontra l-iskema fil-prinċipju. L-istess bħalma hemm min hu tal-fehma li tul is-snin l-għoti taċ-ċittadinanza b’mod ġenerali illaxkat ħafna.

L-iżball fundamentali tal-Gvern fil-proċess kollu kien li għaġgel u dam biex fehem il-ħtieġa tal-konsultazzjoni. Il-ħin li jintuża fil-konsultazzjoni mhuwiex ħin moħli. Huwa ħin li fih tista’ tifhem aħjar kif jaħsibha ħaddieħor. Bil-konsultazzjoni, proposta tajba issir aħjar filwaqt li proposta ħażina jkollok ċans tibdilha.

Sfortunatament l-iżbalji li saru mill-Gvern u r-reazzjonijiet kultant sproporzjonati tal-Opposizzjoni, t-tnejn li huma, ser jissarfu inevitabilment fi ħsara lir-reputazzjoni ta’ Malta. Hemm bżonn li nitgħallmu minn dawn l-iżbalji.

Nistennew ħalli naraw id-dettalji tal-iskema kif emendata.

Il-gimmick ta’ Simon Busuttil

Busuttil-Muscat

Il-ħsara lir-reputazzjoni ta’ Malta bl-iskema tal-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza imfassla minn Joseph Muscat u l-konsulenti tiegħu Henley and Partners hi waħda kbira.

Il-bieraħ Simon Busuttil kompla żied ma din il-ħsara billi ddikjara li ser imur il-Qorti u jippreżenta protest ġudizzjarju kontra l-Gvern u kontra Henley and Partners. F’dan il-protest ġudizzjarju Busuttil fi ħsiebu jibqa’ jemfasizza illi meta l-PN ikun fil-Gvern hu determinat illi lil dawk li jkunu xtraw iċ-ċittadinanza jeħodilhom lura.  Dikjarazzjoni ta’ din ix-xorta minn Simon Busuttil tfisser li l-PN taħt Simon Busuttil jiġi jaqa’ u jqum mid-drittijiet tal-bniedem. Simon Busuttil jaf li dak li qed jgħid ma jistax jagħmlu. Jaf li ma jistax b’daqqa ta’ pinna jħassar id-drittijiet akkwistati anke jekk għandu raġunijiet validi li minħabba fihom ma jaqbilx mal-liġi li ħolqot dawk id-drittijiet.

Din id-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Simon Busuttil hi tebgħa kerha fuq il-PN. Busuttil fil-ġimgħat li għaddew iġġustifika dan billi qal li għandu parir legali f’dan is-sens. Busuttil imissu jippubblika l-parir li qed jgħid li għandu kif diġa għamel il-Gvern meta ippubblika l-parir tal-Avukat tar-Repubblika.

Li Simon Busuttil jinsisti li l-Gvern ta’ Muscat jibdel drastikament l-iskema hu tajjeb. Li jikkompeti miegħu dwar min minnhom jagħmel l-iktar ħsara hu tal-biki.

Subsidiarity and loyalty

malta passport

The Prime Minister has a generational transformation in sight which he wants to bankroll with the monies generated by his sale of citizenship scheme. His supporters see traitors everywhere as they cannot stomach any form of criticism.

Does any EU member state have the right to introduce and implement a sale of citizenship scheme?  Government spokesmen have repeatedly stated that the Malta Government has been advised that it is in line with EU legislation. In line with the subsidiarity principle, nationality issues, we were told, are the sole and exclusive competence of EU member states.

No one is contesting that nationality issues are a national competence. In fact even Commissioner Viviene Reding made this amply clear. There is however much more to it than state competence. There is the duty to be loyal to the Union and other member states. Article 4.3 of the European Union Treaty explains this as the principle of sincere cooperation, also referred to as the loyalty principle: loyalty, that is, towards the other European Union member states.

Government has opted to milk citizenship in order to generate finance so as to be in a position to implement its electoral programme. It has excluded taxation as an option. Moreover it has reduced income tax as part of its electoral strategy in order to outwit the former government, knowing full well that this necessitated alternative financial avenues. Never did it place its plans to put citizenship on sale before the electorate for its consideration. Ethically the Labour Party cannot claim to have an electoral mandate on the matter.

The local political debate has revealed diametrically opposed positions. Government’s position is dictated by its strategy of requiring cash in order to finance its political initiatives. Time is of essence in its strategy. It cannot afford to wait for would-be investors to take initiatives of their choice. There is no direct link between the prospective citizen and the manner in which the monies he pays are “invested”. It is in fact an exercise of selling citizenship with a commitment to use the proceeds in a specific manner. The funds generated are hypothecated. A residential criterion has so far been ruled out, most probably,  as this would only serve as a delaying factor. It would delay the flow of the monies required depending on how long the residential criterion runs.

The warning shot fired by the EU Parliament is not to be discarded as the EU Parliament is the only democratically elected EU institution. Nor is Commissioner Reding’s statement  one that could be ignored. Reding has stated that:

While I am not calling for the Commission to receive legal power to determine what constitutes nationality or the rules granting it, the Commission nevertheless expects that Member States act in full awareness of the consequences of their decisions.

Our debate today shows the growing importance of these questions in a European Union where national decisions are in many instances not neutral vis-à-vis other Member States and the EU as a whole. It is a fact that the principle of sincere cooperation, which is inscribed in the EU Treaties (Article 4.3 of the Treaty on European Union), should lead Member States to take account of the impact of decisions in the field of nationality on other Member States and the Union as a whole.”

Clearly the competence of member states on issues of citizenship is not absolute. Given its impacts on all the other members of the Union in areas of national security, freedom of movement in the Schengen Area, rights to residence and employment, it stands to reason that both the EU as well as member states require consultation which apparently was not carried out.

The capping of the citizenship scheme at 1,800 passports for sale is certainly not enough. A residential condition of reasonable length is also  required as an additional and essential element. This would however be a sticking point as whilst it could render the proposed scheme less un-acceptable and in line with some of the practices elsewhere, it may fail to deliver what the Maltese Government requires on time.

It is with this in mind that the Greens in Malta have time and again called on Government to suspend the implementation of the scheme and concurrently to initiate a dialogue with Brussels. The problem at an EU level may eventually be resolved around the negotiating table. This would result in less reputational damage for Malta. A meeting called between the EU Commision and the Malta Government seems to be imminent. Hopefully matters will take a positive turn.

That would leave the political issue to be solved locally, either in Parliament or at the ballot box through a public consultation. The Prime Minister has already indicated that he is willing to submit the issue to a national consultation.  It is the decent way forward, part of our learning curve as a nation.

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday January 25, 2014