Ftit ħsibijiet wara t-traġedja f’Ġenova

Wara l-kollass tal-pont f’Ġenova hemm numru ta’ lezzjonijiet, anke għalina, mijiet ta’ kilometri ‘l bogħod mill-pont Morandi.

Minkejja li l-investigazzjonijiet uffiċjali dwar l-għaliex seħħ dan il-kollass tal-pont għadhom bil-kemm bdew, il-media Taljana diġá qed tiddiskuti dak li ġara fid-dettall. Il-pontijiet kollha fl-Italja qegħdin taħt il-lenti, b’mod partikolari dawk li hu magħruf li m’humiex f’kundizzjoni tajba u li allura jistgħu, f’qasir żmien jikkollassaw huma ukoll. Dan jassumi sinifikat ikbar meta wieħed iqis li f’dawn l-aħħar ħames snin, fl-Italja, diġa ikkollassaw seba’ pontijiet oħra, u qiesu ma ġara xejn!

Bla dubju, fost il-lezzjonijiet ewlenin, jeħtieġ nifhmu l-ħtieġa li nieħdu ħsieb u nikkuraw b’mod adegwat il-proġetti pubbliċi. Għax anke f’Malta, wara li l-proġetti pubbliċi jkunu saru, ħafna drabi ftit nagħtu kas tagħhom. Ħarsa ftit lejn il-flyover li tifforma parti mill-bypass tal-Marsa/Ħal-Qormi kif inhi illum, tkun biżżejjed, avolja kif ħabbret Infrastruttura Malta nhar il-Ġimgħa ma hemm l-ebda ħsara strutturali. Huwa biss issa li tħabbar li ser jibda programm ta’ manutenzjoni, issa li n-nies, wara l-istraġi ta’ Ġenova, bdiet tistaqsi l-mistoqsijiet. Forsi, min jaf, mil-lum il-quddiem jibda jkollna skeda regolari ta’ manutenzjoni tal-proġetti pubbliċi kollha. Forsi xi darba l-mini ta’ Santa Venera ma jibqgħux iqattru.

Hemm ukoll x’jingħad dwar il-governanza tajba fil-proġetti pubbliċi.

Deċiżjoni riċenti tal-bord li jirrevedi l-kuntratti pubblici (Public Contracts Review Board) hi ta’ tħassib kbir. L-għoti tal-kuntratt għall-bini u t-tkomplija taċ-Ċentru tas-Saħħa f’Raħal Ġdid ġie mwaqqaf wara li Public Contracts Review Board esprima dubji serji fuq kif tmexxew il-proċeduri tal-evalwazzjoni tal-offerti. Fil-fatt ġie identifikat li żewġ professjonisti (inġinier u Perit) kienu konsulenti kemm tal-Fondazzjoni tas-Servizzi Mediċi tal-Ministeru tas-Saħħa kif ukoll ta’ tnejn minn dawk li tefgħu l-offerti. Fil-fehma tiegħi huwa diffiċli ferm biex nifhem kif ħadd mill-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi ma nduna b’dan il-konflitt ta’ interess. Kont nistenna xi ħaġa aħjar mill-Fondazzjoni, għax jidher li ftit li xejn qed jagħtu importanza lill-ħtieġa ta’ governanza tajba fil-ħidma tal-fondazzjoni.

Issa li l-Public Contracts Review Board ħa deċiżjoni nistenna li l-korpi professjonali li jirregolaw l-inginiera u l-periti jeżaminaw sewwa l-kaz biex jaraw x’passi għandhom jieħdu f’dak li hu ksur ta’ etika professjonali bażika.

Il-kontroll adegwat tal-materjali li jintużaw fuq is-sit ta’ kostruzzjoni hi materja oħra ta’ importanza fundamentali. Din mill-ewwel tfakkarni fl-investigazzjoni li saret dwar il-kwalitá tal-konkos użat fl-isptar Mater Dei. Anke hawn kienet responsabbli l-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi. Dwar dan ma kienx hemm biss l-inkjesta li saret taħt it-tmexxija tal-Imħallef irtirat Philip Sciberras imma ukoll rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali fuq talba tal-Ministru tal-Finanzi. Dan ir-rapport kien konkluż u ippubblikat f’Mejju li għadda.

Niftakru li l-Awditur Ġenerali fir-rapport tiegħu kien emfasizza li rriżultalu li kien hemm nuqqas kbir ta’ dokumentazzjoni dwar kull stadju tal-proġett (significant lack of documentation with respect to all stages of the project). Dan wassal lill-istess Awditur Ġenerali biex jikkonkludi li “l-inkapaċita tal-Fondazzjoni li tipprovdi l-informazzjoni bażika dwar proġett ta’ dan il-kobor ifisser falliment istituzzjonali u negliġenza grassa fl-amministrazzjoni ta’ fondi pubbliċi” (the Foundation’s inability to provide basic information relating to a project of this magnitude represents an institutional failure and gross negligence in the administration of public funds).

Min-naħa l-oħra, anke l-inkjesta immexxija mill-Imħallef irtirat Philip Sciberras identifikat nuqqasijiet kbar li dwarhom irrakkomandat li jittieħdu passi.

In partikolari qed nara quddiemi l-konklużjoni numru 5 tar-rapport Sciberras li tgħid li “in-nuqqasijiet gravi li nkixfu bir-rapporti tekniċi tal-lum jindikaw li l-konkos dgħajjef li nstab f’kull parti tas-sit hu riżultat intenzjonat ta’ azzjonijiet bi skop ta’ frodi. Il-Bord ifforma l-impressjoni ċara li l-ġrajjet li wasslu għal dan ma kienux riżultat ta’ koinċidenza, lanqas ma kienu providenzjali, imma warajhom kien hemm id moħbija li tagħti direzzjoni.” (the widespread failings uncovered by the present day technical reports indicate that the pervasive weak concrete found in the site is a result of intended fraudulent actions. Moreover the Board is left with a distinct impression that events as they transpired were not the fruit of coincidence or providence but seem to indicate an element of concertation and direction.)

Ma tantx jidher li sar wisq dwar dawn ir-rakkomandazzjonijiet. X’qed nistennew? Li jaqa’ x’imkien?

Hemm tagħlim waħda bażika minn Ġenova: in-nuqqas ta’ governanza tajba tista’ twassal ukoll għall-imwiet.

Ippubblikat f’Illum : 19 t’Awwissu 2018

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Lessons from the Genova bridge collapse

The collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genova should lead to a number of lessons which have an application hundreds of kilometres away from Genova.

Notwithstanding the fact that the official investigations into the bridge collapse have barely commenced, the media in Italy is discussing the possible causes of the collapse and whether there are any other bridges on the Italian mainland that may shortly have a similar fate. The fact that there have been some seven other bridge collapses in Italy during the past five years adds more fuel to this debate.

Among the many lessons to be learnt is the need to ensure adequate maintenance of public structures at all times. How does Malta score? Not very well, I would say. Have a look at the bridge forming part of the Marsa/Qormi flyover. It does not send out a good message even if, as stated by Infrastructure Malta on Friday, the flyover is structurally safe. The authorities in Malta have only announced the commencement of a maintenance programme for this bridge when questions began being asked as a result of the Genova tragedy.

Hopefully we will henceforth have regular maintenance schedules of all public structures and,  maybe, someday the dripping Santa Venera tunnels will be seen to permanently!

What about good governance in tenders for public projects? A recent decision by the Public Contracts Review Board is cause for concern. The award of the contract for the building and finishing of a health centre in Paola was halted by this Board after serious doubts regarding the evaluation procedure were raised. In fact, two professionals (an engineer and an architect) were identified as being simultaneously advisors of the Health Ministry’s Foundation for Medical Services as well as two of the three tenderers. It is, in my opinion, very difficult to understand how nobody at the Foundation for Medical Services was aware of this glaring conflict of interest. Good governance is apparently not the Foundation’s strong point.

Now that the Public Contracts Review Board has decided the case, I would expect that the professional bodies regulating the professionals involved take appropriate action on what is clearly a very serious breach of professional ethics.

Adequate quality control of materials used on site is another fundamental issue. The investigations regarding the quality of concrete used in the construction of the Mater Dei Hospital project comes to mind. The Foundation for Medical Services was also responsible for this project.

This issue has been dealt with not only by an inquiry led by retired judge Philip Sciberras but also by a report drawn up by the Auditor General at the request of the Finance Minister, which was concluded and published last May.

We may remember that, in the Auditor General’s report, it was emphasised that he found a “significant lack of documentation with respect to all stages of the project”. This led the Auditor General to conclude that “the Foundation’s inability to provide basic information relating to a project of this magnitude represents an institutional failure and gross negligence in the administration of public funds”.

On the other hand, the inquiry led by retired judge Philip Sciberras also identified various deficiencies in respect of which it recommended that action be taken.

I point in particular to conclusion No. 5 of the Sciberras report which states that : “the widespread failings uncovered by the present day technical reports indicates that the pervasive weak concrete found in the site is a result of intended fraudulent actions. Moreover, the Board is left with a distinct impression that events as they transpired were not the fruit of coincidence or providence but seem to indicate an element of concertation and direction.”

Apparently, not much has been done to date regarding the  implementation of the recommendations of these reports. Shall we wait for our own bridge collapse before action?

There is one basic lesson to be learnt from the Genova tragedy: a lack of good governance is a potential killer.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 19 August 2018

Ftit ħsibijiet wara l-istraġi ta’ Genova

Wara l-istraġi ta’ Genova bla dubju it-Taljani ser jippruvaw jitgħallmu l-lezzjonijiet li s’issa ma rnexxielhomx jitgħallmu, sforz amminstrazzjoni ġeneralment inkompetenti u korruzzjoni fl-għoti tal-kuntratti.

L-investigazzjoni dwar x’wassal għall-kollass tal-pont għadha fil-bidu. Il-pont ilu hemm iktar minn 50 sena u bla dubju kemm saret (jew kemm ma saritx) maintenance adegwata tul is-snin ser tkun materja fundamentali fl-investigazzjoni. Anke l-fatt li l-pont kien ilu daqstant snin, hu fattur, għax probabbilment messhom ilhom li ittieħdu passi biex il-pont jinbidel għax il-konkos tiegħu bla dubju għejja u per konsegwenza ddgħajjef wara dan is-snin kollu fl-użu.

F’dan il-kuntest ikun tajjeb li flok il-konkos ta’ Genova niftakru ftit fil-konkos ta’ Mater Dei. Dwar dan hemm mhux biss ir-rapport tal-awditur ġenerali, ppubblikat f’Mejju li għadda, imma ukoll ir-rapport tal-inkjesta immexxija mill-Imħallef irtirat Philip Sciberras.

Ikun tajjeb li niftakru li fir-rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali kien ġie emfasizzat li kien hemm nuqqas ta’ dokumentazzjoni li hi tant essenzjali biex tingħata l-assigurazzjoni li proġett ta’ dan il-kobor sar sewwa.

Min-naħa l-oħra r-rapport tal-inkjesta immexxija minn Philip Sciberras kien identifika diversi nuqqasijiet li dwarhom irrakkomanda li jittieħdu passi.

Wara l-istraġi ta’ Genova għandna kull dritt nistaqsu: x’passi ittieħdu dwar ir-rapporti fuq il-konkos ta’ Mater Dei? Għax jekk ma jittieħdux il-passi neċessarji, dawn l-affarijiet ser jibqgħu jirrepetu ruħhom.

Wara l-inkjesta Egrant ……… jibda l-kontrattakk

 

L-istorja dwar l-Egrant għad mhiex lesta.

L-ewwel u qabel kollox hemm ir-rapport tal-inkjesta li għadu mhux magħruf, ħlief minn Joseph Muscat u dawk mgħarrfa minnu.

Bħalissa għaddejja l-battalja legali bejn il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Adrian Delia u l-Avukat Ġenerali dwar il-pubblikazzjoni tar-rapport. Anke jiena nixtieq li r-rapport ikun ippubblikat imma nifhem li hemm diffikultajiet dwar dawk il-partijiet tar-rapport fejn hemm struzzjonijiet dwar lil min għandhom jittieħdu passi kontrih u dwar xiex. Ovvjament waħedha toħroġ l-osservazzjoni li ma kienitx l-aħjar deċiżjoni li jingħata kopja tar-rapport tal-inkjesta Joseph Muscat, ukoll minħabba li anke dan il-fatt jista’ jkun ta’ preġudizzju għall-investigazzjonijiet li huma meħtieġa min-naħa tal-Pulizija. Li r-rapport ikun ippubblikat b’biċċiet nieqsa ma jsolvi xejn. Naħseb li kien ikun aħjar kieku jkollna paċenzja nistennew, ilkoll kemm aħna.

Imbagħad hemm il-kontrattakk.

Nhar il-Ħadd Joseph Muscat għamel akkużi serji li b’mod ċar juru kif dan il-kontrattakk jista’ jiżviluppa. Muscat qed jgħid li Simon Busuttil kien jaf x’inhu għaddej dwar il-każ Egrant sa mill-bidu nett. Jgħid ukoll li possibilment Busuttil kien ukoll involut fil-koordinazzjoni ta’ kif żviluppaw l-affarijiet.

Issa jiena ma nafx jekk dan il-kliem (flimkien mal-ispjegazzjoni dettaljata dwar x’wassal għalih) intqalx ukoll lill-Maġistrat Aaron Bugeja, u f’dak il-każ jekk il-maġistrat irrappurtax dwaru fir-rapport finali tal-inkjesta, inkluż bir-reazzjoni ta’ Simon Busuttil għal dan. Għax jekk Joseph Muscat għarraf lill-Maġistrat b’dan “il-koordinament” li hu sar jaf bih, bla dubju il-Maġistrat Bugeja jkun talab spjegazzjoni mingħand Simon Busuttil, u kif inhu xieraq ikun għarblu sewwa.

Min-naħa l-oħra, jekk Joseph Muscat ma għarrafx b’dan lill-Maġistrat Aaron Bugeja naħseb li għandu l-obbligu li jispjega għaliex aġixxa b’dan il-mod.

Dwar dan kollu s’issa xejn mhu magħruf, għajr dak li qed jgħid Joseph Muscat.

Apparti dan, sal-ħin li qed nikteb għadni ma qrajt l-ebda kumment ta’ Simon Busuttil dwar dan. Waqa’ skiet komplet.

Dan kollu jfisser li għad hemm ħafna x’jingħad dwar l-istorja Egrant, kif din żviluppat u dan apparti l-inkjesti maġisterjali l-oħrajn li għadhom għaddejjin.

F’dan il-kuntest ilkoll kemm aħna għandna l-obbligu li ma ngħaġġlux biex naslu għall-konklużjonijiet għax bħal dejjem kulħadd jgħidilna bil-biċċa li jaqbillu u jħalli barra l-bqija.

Ikun għaqli li nistennew li naraw l-istampa kollha. Jekk le niżbaljaw bl-ikraħ.

Għalhekk ukoll importanti li naraw ir-rapport kollu tal-inkjesta, u mhux biċċa jew biċċiet minnu.

Fil-PN: Lawrence Gonzi l-medjatur

 

Adrian Delia, Kap tal-Opposizzjoni, huwa u jistkenn bejn attakk u ieħor li huwa soġġett għalihom bħalissa, diversi drabi ġie rappurtat jgħid li ħadd mhu ikbar mill-partit. Naħseb li jemminha din id-dikjarazzjoni għax jidher li jgħidha b’ċerta konvinzjoni. Fir-realtá l-affarijiet huma ħafna differenti minn hekk. Għax ilu li spiċċa ż-żmien li l-mexxej jordna u l-bqija jimxu warajh b’għajnejhom magħluqa.

Partit politiku hu kbir jew żgħir skond kemm jirrispetta lil dawk fi ħdanu. Għax jekk ma jirrispettax lilhom, kif qatt jista’ jirrispetta lil dawk barra minnu?

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista jidher li għadu ma tgħallem xejn mill-esperjenzi tal-konfront li kellu ma’ Franco Debono li l-enerġija tiegħu, flok ma ġiet utilizzata favur inizjattivi kostruttivi spiċċat intużat biex toħloq ħerba. Kien hemm mumenti fis-saga Franco Debono li l-PN seta’ jevita din il-ħerba, jew tal-inqas inaqqas il-konsegwenzi negattivi, imma minflok, il-Kap tal-PN ta’ dakinnhar Lawrence Gonzi għamel żbalji wieħed wara l-ieħor: ipprova jpoġġi lil Franco Debono f’rokna u minflok spiċċa fir-rokna huwa.

Il-Parlament, dakinnhar, fl-2012, kellu quddiemu żewġ mozzjonijiet. Waħda kienet imressqa mill-membri parlamentari Josè Herrera u Michael Falzon għall-Opposizzjoni Laburista, liema mozzjoni kienet kritika tal-politika tal-Gvern immexxi mill-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-qasam tal-ġustizzja u l-intern u kienet tikkonkludi b’dikjarazzjoni ta’ sfiduċja f’Carm Mifsud Bonnici, dakinnhar Ministru. Il-mozzjoni l-oħra kienet imressqa minn Franco Debono u filwaqt li kienet ukoll kritika tal-politika tal-Gvern fil-qasam tal-ġustizzja u l-intern ma kienet titlob l-ebda sfiduċja iżda kienet titlob diskussjoni fuq numru ta’ inizjattivi f’dawn l-oqsma.

Is-sens komun iwasslek biex tikkonkludi li jekk kellek tagħżel bejn iż-żewġ mozzjonijiet kont tagħżel dik ta’ Franco Debono bl-intenzjoni li tnaqqas kemm tista’ l-konsegwenzi kif ukoll bit-tama li tiffoka fuq titjib fil-qasam taħt diskussjoni u forsi tikkontribwixxi biex tikkalma xi ftit is-sitwazzjoni. Nafu li Lawrence Gonzi poġġa fuq l-aġenda tal-Parlament il-mozzjoni ta’ sfiduċja mressqa mill-Opposizzjoni u dan, b’mod ċar, biex jisfida lil Debono. Iffaċċjat b’dan l-atteġġjament ta’ Lawrence Gonzi, Franco Debono ma kellux għażla, irvella u daħal għall-isfida bir-ras nhar it-30 ta’ Mejju 2012 meta ivvota favur il-mozzjoni mressqa mill-Opposizzjoni.

Dan l-iżball tattiku ta’ Lawrence Gonzi wassal għal konsegwenzi gravi fuq il-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-Gvern. Nafu kif is-seduti Parlamentari bejn Mejju 2012 u l-aħħar ta’ dik is-sena kienu battalja kontinwa li spiċċaw bin-nuqqas ta’ approvazzjoni tal-budget.

Jidher li l-PN ma tgħallem xejn minn dak l-iżball: forsi għalhekk Lawrence Gonzi jrid jagħmilha tal-medjatur biex jiggwida ftit lil Adrian Delia ‘l bogħod mill-periklu li jidher li daħal għalih meta stieden lil Simon Busuttil biex jissospendi ruħu mill-Grupp Parlamentari!

Lawrence Gonzi kellu Franco Debono wieħed. Wara żdiedlu Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando u mbagħad ingħaqad magħom ukoll Jesmond Mugliette. Kien hemm bosta oħrajn fil-grupp parlamentari li dakinnhar kienu kritiċi tat-tmexxija ta’ Lawrence Gonzi imma qatt, safejn naf jien, ma ippreżentaw front wieħed biex jikkontestaw l-arroganza fit-tmexxija tal-Partit. In parti dan kien minħabba li ma kellhomx uniformitá ta’ ħsieb u/jew viżjoni.

Jidher li l-affarijiet qed jinbidlu. Il-front komuni li qed jippreżenta parti mill-grupp parlamentari nazzjonalista, illum b’solidarjetá ma’ Simon Busuttil jista’ jwassal lill-PN biex jiġi f’sensieh u tal-inqas jibda jirrispetta lil dawk fi ħdanu.

Bla dubju hemm x’tgħid favur kif ukoll kontra dak li qed jinsisti dwaru Adrian Delia. Pero żgur li m’humiex deċiżjonijiet li l-ewwel tħabbarhom f’konferenza tal-aħbarijiet (ftit wara li jkun jħabbarhom Joseph Muscat) u mbagħad, iffaċċjat b’reazzjoni kuntrarja iddur fuq ta’ madwarek għall-appoġġ. Id-deċiżjonijiet li qiegħed jiffaċċja l-Partit Nazzjonalista jirrikjedu diskussjoni serja li minna ħadd ma għandu jkun eskluż. Forsi l-medjatur jgħallimhom, mill-esperjenza tal-iżbalji tiegħu.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 29 ta’ Lulju 2018

Lawrence Gonzi the PN mediator

 

Adrian Delia, Leader of the Opposition, has many a time been reported as stating that “no one is greater than the Party”. It seems a basic article of his political faith. Unfortunately for him, nowadays reality is quite different. Gone are the days when the leader issues orders and everyone follows blindly because the party has spoken.

The greatness of a political party is not measured in such terms but more in terms of to what extent it is capable of respecting its own. If it is not capable of doing this, how on earth can it ever respect diverging and contrasting opinions out there?

Six years down the line, the PN, apparently, has not yet drawn any lessons from the Franco Debono debacle, whose energy and enthusiasm – instead of being used positively –  ended up causing extreme havoc. There were specific instances when the PN could have avoided most of the damage caused, if the then PN party leader, Lawrence Gonzi, had not embarked on a series of tactical errors: he tried to corner Franco Debono into submission but instead triggered an over-reaction which he was not capable of handling.

Two specific motions were pending on Parliament’s agenda in 2012. One of these motions, submitted on behalf of the Opposition by its MPs Josè Herrera and Michael Falzon, was critical of government policy in the areas of justice and home affairs and ended by requesting a vote of no confidence in then Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici. Another motion, presented by Franco Debono himself, while being equally critical of the same policy areas, was limited to requesting a detailed discussion of deficiencies in these policy areas.

Common sense would have led anyone in a position to choose which of the motions was to be discussed to opt for the Franco Debono motion, as it was clearly the one that could cause the least collateral damage. It was also possible that the Franco Debono motion could develop into a serious discussion and consequently the situation could calm down.

Lawrence Gonzi then proceeded to place on the Parliamentary agenda the no confidence motion presented by the Opposition, consequently calling Franco Debono’s perceived bluff. Faced with Gonzi’s challenge Franco Debono bit the bullet and, on the 30 May 2012, voted in favour of the no confidence motion moved by the Opposition.

It was a tactical error by Lawrence Gonzi and led to very serious consequences for the PN in government. We remember that parliamentary sittings between May and December 2012 were a continuous battle that led to the government being defeated when it presented its budgetary estimates.

Apparently, the PN has not learned anything from these blunders: maybe this is why Lawrence Gonzi is offering his “mediation skills” to guide Adrian Delia away from the dangers that he has created for the PN with his invitation to Simon Busuttil to auto-suspend himself from the PN Parlamentary Group!

Lawrence Gonzi had one Franco Debono, who was subsequently joined by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and Jesmond Mugliette and there were various other members of the then PN parliamentary group who were very critical of Lawrence Gonzi’s leadership. However, as far as I am aware, they never presented a coordinated front to stand up to the leadership’s arrogance. This, most probably, was the direct consequence of the fact that there was a lack of a uniform vision among those dissenting.

Well, times are changing. The common front of the PN parliamentary dissidents supporting Simon Busuttil may bring the PN to its senses in order that it may start respecting its own.

There is, without any doubt, much to say – both in favour and against Adrian Delia’s invitation to Simon Busuttil. These matters are, however, not normally announced in a PN press conference (after being prompted by Joseph Muscat) and then, faced with opposition, being rubber-stamped by a party structure. The decisions faced by the PN require a serious internal debate from which no-one should be excluded. The mediator may, as a result of his experience, guide the PN to avoid the pitfalls ahead. Otherwise, interesting times lie beyond the horizon.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 29 July 2018

Standards fil-Ħajja Pubblika: għadna nistennew

Is-sit tal-Ministeru tal-Ġustizzja jindika b’mod ċar li l-Att XIII tal-2017 imsejjaħ Att dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika għadu ma daħalx fis-seħħ. Din il-liġi irċiviet il-kunsens tal-President tar-Repubblika nhar it-30 ta’ Marzu 2017 wara li damet perjodu twil pendenti fuq l-aġenda tal-Parlament. Jidher li għad baqgħalna x’nistennew, għax il-partiti politiċi fil-parlament ma tantx jdher li għandhom għaġla.

Il-liġi tipprovdi għall-ħatra ta’ Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Dan il-Kummissarju jista’ jkun approvat biss kemm-il darba jikseb il-kunsens ta’ żewġ terzi tal-membri parlamentari. Fi ftit kliem irid ikun hemm qbil dwar il-ħatra tiegħu jew tagħha bejn il-Gvern u l-Opposizzjoni li, sa fejn naf jien, għandhom ma qablux. S’issa ħadd ma jaf xejn, l-anqas jekk ġewx proposti ismijiet, minn min u x’kienet ir-reazzjoni dwarhom.

Il-liġi approvata tapplika għall-Membri kollha tal-Parliament, inkluż il-membri tal-Kabinett. Tapplika wkoll għal dawk il-persuni maħtura f’posizzjoni ta’ fiduċja (position of trust) fil-Ministeri u s-Segretarjati Parlamentari.

Meta iktar kmieni matul din il-ġimgħa iltqajt mal-Ispeaker tal-Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti, l-Onorevoli Anġlu Farrugia, jiena emfasizzajt li dan id-dewmien biex tkun implimentata din il-liġi dwar l-imġieba xierqa tal-Membri Parlamentari u dawk maħtura f’posizzjoni ta’ fiducja qiegħed jibgħat messaġġ ċar ħafna: li l-Membri Parlamentari m’għandhom l-ebda ħeġġa biex iwieġbu għal egħmilhom.

Jiena niftakar lill-Ispeaker, xi snin ilu, jemfasizza li hu ma kienx sodisfatt mill-kontenut tad-dikjarazzjonijiet tal-assi sottomessi minn uħud mill-Membri Parlamentari. Issa għandu l-għodda biex jinvestiga dwar il-veraċitá ta’ dawn id-dikjarazzjonijiet imma sfortunatament m’huwiex jitħalla jagħmel użu minnhom! Il-Membri Parlamentari għandhom jagħtu kont ta’ egħmilhom, iżda l-fatt li l-liġi dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika għadha ma daħlitx fis-seħħ qiegħed jostakola dan milli jseħħ.

Meta tħares lejn dan in-nuqqas ta’ implimentazzjoni tal-liġi waħdu tista’ tinterpretah bħala tkaxkir tas-saqajn mill-Membri Parlamentari u l-mexxejja tagħhom li jippreferu ma jitqegħdux taħt il-lenti tal-iskrutinjun pubbliku. Imma meta dan kollu tqisu fil-kuntest tar-rapport annwali tal-Ombudsman għas-sena 2017 huwa ċar li dan it-tkaxkir tas-saqajn m’huwiex limitat iżda hu mifrux ħafna. Id-dritt tal-aċċess għall-informazzjoni dwar il-ħidma tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika qiegħed taħt assedju.

Il-kontabiltá u it-trasparenza m’humiex slogans. L-anqas huma negozjabbli. Huma valuri fundamentali li jiffurmaw parti essenzjali mis-sisien tal-istat demokratiku.

Jiena tlabt lill-Ispeaker biex jiġbed l-attenzjoni tal-Kumitat tax-Xogħol tal-Kamra li dan it-tkaxkir tas-saqajn biex ikun implimentat l-Att dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika mhuwiex aċċettabbli. Huwa essenzjali li l-liġi tkun implimentata malajr kemm jista’ jkun jekk iriduna nemmnu li għall-partiti politiċi fil-parlament il-kontabilitá tfisser xi ħaga.

B’żieda mar-responsabbiltá li jinvestiga l-imġieba kemm tal-Membri Parlamentari kif ukoll dik tal-persuni ta’ fiduċja, il-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ser ikollu ukoll l-inkarigu li jfassal kemm il-linji gwida kif ukoll ir-regolamenti proposti dwar l-attivitá tal-lobbying. Dwar din l-attivitá b’implikazzjonijiet etiċi sostanzjali l-partiti politiċi fil-Parlament ma qablux meta din il-liġi kienet qed tiġi ikkunsidrata quddiem il-Kumitat Parlamentari għall-konsiderazzjoni tal-abbozzi ta’ liġijiet. Bħala riżultat ta’ dan Il-materja intefgħet f’ħoġor il-Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika li meta jinħatar ser ikun hu li jkollu jfassal kemm il-linji gwida kif ukoll r-regolamenti proposti.

Il-lobbying hi attivitá essenzjali fil-ħajja pubblika. Jeħtieġ iżda li issir b’mod li jkun assigurat illi d-deċiżjonijiet mittieħda mill-politiċi jkunu kemm trasparenti kif ukoll b’rispett sħiħ lejn r-regoli bażiċi tal-etika.

Il-lobbying huwa ta’ influwenza kontinwa fuq id-deċiżjoniiet li jittieħdu. Huwa essenzjali li dan issir b’mod mill-iktar trasparenti biex ikun ċar għal kulħadd dwar liema interessi jkunu qed jiġu mmexxija l-quddiem. Dan bla dubju jfisser li ikun meħtieġ il-pubblikazzjoni ta’ ammont mhux żgħir ta’ informazzjoni li presentement hi fil-pussess ta’ membri tal-Kabinett u li ġeneralment tibqa’ fil-files – meta tkun miktuba. Din hi informazzjoni li ġeneralment tkun il-bażi għall-azzjonijiet u d-deċiżjonijiet li jittieħdu.

Bla ebda dubju, il-linji gwida u r-regolamenti dwar il-lobbying iridu jindirizzaw u jirregolaw x’jista’jagħmel membru tal-Kabinett meta jispiċċa mill-ħatra, materja magħrufa bħala revolving door policy. Dan minħabba li s-settur regolat mill-Ministru jkollu għatx għal informazzjoni (kunfidenzjali) li dan ikun kiseb kemm ikun ilu fil-ħatra kif ukoll għall-kuntatti u influwenzi akkumulati fuq dawk li jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet. Xi drabi għaldaqstant meta Ministru jew Segretarju Parlamentari, hekk kif itemm il-ħatra tiegħu ikun offrut impieg f’dak l-istess settur li ftit qabel ikun dipendenti minnu jeħtieġ li nieqfu ftit. Dan ovvjament għax miegħu iġorr aċċess akkumulat kemm għal informazzjoni miksuba kif ukoll għal kuntatti u influwenza fuq il-proċess deċiżjonali. Il-linji gwida u r-regolamenti jridu jistabilixxu kemm jeħtieġ li jgħaddi żmien qabel ma dan ikun jista’ jseħħ. .

Huwa dan kollu li qed nistennew. Hemm ħafna li jeħtieġ li jsir imma ma jidher li hemm l-ebda impenn biex dan isir.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : 1 ta’ Lulju 2018 

Standards in Public Life: still waiting for Godot

The website of the Ministry of Justice clearly indicates that Act XIII of 2017 entitled Standards in Public Life Act is not yet in force. This statute received Presidential assent on  30 March 2017 after an elephantine gestation period. It seems that we are in for a long wait as the parliamentary political parties do not seem to be in any hurry.

The Act provides for the appointment of a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. The Commissioner can only be appointed if two-thirds of Members of Parliament agree with the nomination, and as far as I am aware there has been no agreement so far between Government and Opposition on the matter. The name or names proposed to date are not in the public domain.

The Act applies to all Members of Parliament, including the members of Cabinet. Moreover, it also applies to those appointed to a position of trust in Ministries and Parliamentary Secretariats.

When I met the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Anġlu Farrugia, earlier this week, I emphasised the fact that the delay in implementing this legislation on the ethical behaviour of Members of Parliament and those appointed in positions of trust is sending one clear message: that Members of Parliament are not that eager to be accountable for their actions.

I do remember the Speaker – some years back – emphasising the fact that he was not satisfied with the contents of the asset declarations submitted annually by some MPs. He now has the tools to investigate the veracity (or otherwise) of such declarations but is, unfortunately, being prevented from doing so. MPs should be accountable for their actions, but the non-implementation of the Standards in Public Life Act is preventing such accountability.

On its own, this lack of implementation could be interpreted as a reluctance of MPs and their leaders to be personally placed under the spotlight of public opinion. However, when viewed in the context of the 2017 Ombudsman’s annual report, it is very clear that this reluctance is widespread. The right of access to information on the workings of the public administration is under siege.

Accountability and transparency are not slogans and, moreover, they are non-negotiable. They are fundamental values which underpin the democratic state.

I have asked Mr Speaker to draw the attention of the House Business Committee to the fact that this procrastination in implementing the Standards in Public Life Act is not acceptable. Its implementation is a must if we are to believe that the commitment of parliamentary political parties goes beyond slogans.

In addition to investigating the behaviour of Members of Parliament and that of people appointed to positions of trust, the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life will have the task of drawing up guidelines and a proposal for regulations on lobbying activities. This is another ethical minefield in respect of which there was no agreement between the parliamentary political parties when the draft legislation was under consideration in the Parliamentary Committee for the Consideration of Bills. As a result, instead of spelling out the required regulatory regime, the matter was postponed and added to the responsibilities of the future Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, whoever he or she may be.

Lobbying is an essential and unavoidable element of public life. However, it has to be placed under the spotlight to ensure a fuller transparency of the decisions taken by the holders of political office. In addition to subjecting lobbying to clear transparency rules, it is essential that the ethical issues linked to lobbying are addressed forthwith.

Lobbying continually influences decision-making. It is imperative that transparency rules are applied to lobbying so that it be clear to one and all as to whose interests are being advanced and defended. This would undoubtedly include the publication of a substantial amount of information to which Cabinet Ministers are currently privy, which information (generally) forms the basis for their actions and decisions.

Undoubtedly, lobbying guidelines and regulations have to address the issue of revolving doors recruitment, as a result of which politicians may be available for sale at the taxpayers expense. A policy addressing the issue of revolving doors recruitment would also regulate the cooling-off period required for a Minster or Parliamentary Secretary to take up employment (after termination of office) in the sector which was subject to his regulation authority.

This is what we are waiting for. Like Samuel Beckett’s characters in his “Waiting for Godot”. Godot never arrives.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 1 July 2018

Bżonn ta’ impenn ikbar favur il-kontabilitá

 

Dal-għodu għan-nom ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika għamilt żjara ta’ kortesija lill-Ispeaker fl-uffiċini tiegħu fil-Parlament.

Tkellimna dwar il-ħidma tal-Parlament. Jiena għażilt li niffoka fuq żewġ punti. L-ewwel dwar in-nuqqas tad-dħul fis-seħħ tal-liġi dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika u wara dwar ir-apport annwali tal-Ombudsman għall-2017. Żewġ argumenti li huma relatati ħafna.

Bid-dewmien tad-dħul fis-seħħ tal-Att dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika il-Parlament qed jagħti messaġġ wieħed ċar: li m’għandux għaġġla biex il-Membri Parlamentari jagħtu kont ta’ egħmilhom kull meta dan ikun meħtieġ. Jidher li għad ma hemmx qbil bejn Gvern u Oppożizzjoni dwar il-ħatra tal-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika, liema Kummissarju jeħtieġlu li jinħatar bi qbil ta’ żewġ terzi tal-Kamra.

Jidher li l-partiti rappreżentati fil-Parlament m’għandhomx għaġġla biex din il-liġi tkun implimentata. L-ewwel damet tlett snin għaddejja mill-Parlament (Mejju 2014 sa Marzu 2017). Issa ilha ħmistax-il xahar li rċieviet l-approvazzjoni tal-President tar-Repubblika, iżda għada fuq l-ixkaffa.

Dan kollu jassumi sinifikat ikbar jekk wieħed jarrah fil-kuntest tar-rapport tal-Ombudsman għall-2017 fejn hu ċar li d-dritt għall-informazzjoni dwar l-amministrazzjoni pubblika qiegħed taħt assedju.

Hu ċar li l-kontabilitá u l-aċċess għall-informazzjoni jimxu id f’id fi stat demokratiku. Huma l-pedamenti tad-demokrazija li l-Parlament għandu l-obbligu li jindokra.

Tlabt lill-Ispeaker biex jiġbed l-attenzjoni tal-Parlament li mhux aċċettabbli li nibqgħu bit-tkaxkir tas-saqajn. Hu neċessarju li l-Parlament jassigura l-ħarsien tad-dritt tal-aċċess għall-informazzjoni kif ukoll li l-kontabilitá ma tibqax slogan.

 

Adrian Delia mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ

It-Times qalulna illum li l-kontijiet tat-taxxa li l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni kellu pendenti  tħallsu mill-kunjati ta’ Adrian Delia.

Qrajna matul il-ġimgħat u x-xhur li għaddew fuq kontijiet pendenti ta’ Adrian Delia dwar credit cards, overdrafts personali mad-diversi banek u d-diffikultajiet tal-kumpanija Mġarr Developments Limited li fiha Adrian Delia għandu sehem minoritarju ta’ madwar 9%.

Xi żmien ilu kumpanija tal-awdituri kienet iċċertifikat li Adrian Delia għandu x’jagħmel tajjeb għal dak li għandu jagħti lill-banek. Tajjeb.

Imma x’sens jagħmel għall-Opposizzjoni li tkun fl-aħbarijiet mhux għal proposti politiċi innovattivi tagħha (fejnhom?) imma għall-mod kif il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni jamministra flusu?

Il-messaġġ ċar li Adrian Delia qed jagħti u ilu jagħti sa minn meta ġie elett bħala Kap tal-Opposizzjoni mhux wieħed ta’ serjetá. Smajna kull xorta ta’ stejjer dwar dan: l-ebda waħda minnhom ma tnissel fiduċja f’min jippretendi li jmexxi l-pajjiż.

Għax jekk l-amministrazzjoni ta’ flusek tnissel dubji, kif qatt tista’ titwemmen meta titkellem dwar it-tmexxija tajba?

Delia, ovvjament mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ. Imma madwaru hemm għatx kbir għas-serjetá fit-tmexxija, fil-forom kollha tagħha.