Alternanza tal-poter u tal-ħmieg

Same Shit

 

Waqt il-manifestazzjoni tas-soċjetà ċivili, iktar kmieni illum, uħud ħadu għalihom bil-poster tal-Moviment Graffiti : Same Shit, Different Government.

Alternanza tal-poter bejn PN u PL twassal ukoll l-alternanza tal-ħmieġ. Jekk tivvota bħas-soltu ikollok l-istess riżultati. Ġieli tinduna bihom mill-ewwel u ġieli tieħu ftit taż-żmien. Imma fir-realtà ma hemmx x’tagħżel bejniethom.

Id-differenza qegħda biss fl-attenzjoni ta’ kif jagħmlu l-affarijiet.

PNPL : m’hemmx x’tagħżel bejniethom.

PNPL Pezza Wahda_1200x1200px

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Il-miljuni ta’ Ninu minn fejn ġew?

Ninu Zammit                          dollars

Mela issa, kif qaltilna l-Malta Independent on Sunday nafu li fil-kont li kellu fl-Isvizzera Ninu kellu $3.2 miljuni mġemma’ fih.

Ninu għamel użu mill-amnestija skond l-iskema tar-reġistrazzjoni tal-investimenti tal-2014 biex irregolarizza l-posizzjoni tiegħu. Biex setgħet saret din ir-reġistrazzjoni tal-investiment ta’ $3.2 miljuni li Ninu kellu l-Isvizzera, il-Bank Ċentrali ta’ Malta u/jew l-aġenti tiegħu għamlu dik li tissejjaħ due diligence. Jiġifieri staqsew lil Ninu l-mistoqsijiet u talbuh ukoll provi permezz ta’ dokumenti biex jistabilixxu l-oriġini ta’ dawn il-fondi.

Fil-medja, Ninu qal li dawn l-investimenti oriġinaw minn dħul mhux dikjarat mill-professjoni tiegħu kif ukoll min-negozju ta’ artijiet. X’qal lill-Bank Ċentrali jew lill-aġenti tiegħu mhux magħruf għax l-informazzjoni li tkun inġabret ħadd ma għandu aċċess għaliha.

Il-mistoqsija li qed jistaqsi kulħadd hi dwar jekk il-Bank Ċentrali u/jew l-aġenti tiegħu staqsewx biżżejjed kif ukoll jekk għarblux lil Ninu biżżejjed biex jistabilixxu bla dubju minn fejn oriġinaw l-investimenti.

Kien għalhekk li l-bieraħ fi stqarrija għall-istampa, Alternattiva Demokratika, permezz ta’ Arnold Cassola, qalet li jkun għaqli li l-Awditur Ġenerali jinvestiga sewwa dak li għamel il-Bank Ċentrali u dan mhux biss fil-konfront ta’ Ninu Zammit imma ukoll fil-konfront ta’ kull minn għamel użu mill-iskema tar-reġistrazzjoni tal-investimenti fl-2014.

L-Awditur Ġenerali biss għandu l-awtorità li jagħmel dan. Meta l-Awditur Ġenerali jinvestiga, jkun jista’ jistabilixxi jekk l-investimenti mhux dikjarati ġewx verament minn dħul li dawk li applikaw għall-amnestija iddikjaraw. Inkella jekk kienx hemm dħul minn sorsi oħra, bħall korruzzjoni jew inkella ħasil ta’ flus ġejjin, per eżempju, min-negozju tad-droga.

Sakemm l-affarijiet jibqgħu sigrieta fil-Bank Ċentrali dejjem ser jibqa’ d-dubju dwar jekk il-Bank Ċentrali għafasx biżżejjed biex jassigura li l-informazzjoni li kellu kienitx dik korretta. Jekk issir il-verifika mill-uffiċċju tal-Awditur Ġenerali ikun hemm probabbilta’ ferm iktar li jkun stabilit jekk l-affarijiet sarux sewwa jew le.

Taking care of tax evaders

HSBC Geneve

 

Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party pride themselves with emphasising that this Government has removed the statutory limitation (prescription) relative to corruption when holders of political office are criminally prosecuted.

It certainly was a step in the right direction. It still however requires the test of time to verify whether it is compatible with the human rights provisions of our Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights as was explained by former Strasbourg Judge Giovanni Bonello in his article Bribery and Genocide : the same? (Times of Malta April 20, 2013)

Such a clear stand against corruption contrasts with the provisions of Legal Notice 256 of 2014 entitled Investment Registration Scheme Regulations 2014 which launched the latest amnesty that can be utilised by Maltese citizens who evaded payment of income tax. Camouflaged through the use of Orwellian terminology as an “Investment Registration Scheme”, this amnesty, as others before it, did not treat holders of political office any differently from other tax evaders. It afforded them the same opportunities to be able to “regularise” their position absolving them from having committed an economic crime.

Apparently, this government considers tax evasion to be a crime which is substantially inferior to corruption. In fact, the recent cases brought to light by Swiss Leaks have revealed the ease with which former Cabinet Ministers have wriggled out of their tax evasion crimes that they had successfully concealed for around 40 years, including when in office.

During all these years, most of the funds which were accumulated in various bank accounts until they ended in an HSBC Genève account, reaped interest at varying rates depending on market conditions, which, as a result, increased the quantum of the undeclared funds. Had both the funds originally invested as well as the accumulated interests  been appropriately declared to the tax authorities in Malta , they would have been subject to between 35 per cent and 65 per cent  taxation in terms of Income Tax legislation. Yet the Investment Registration Scheme of 2014 allows self-confessed tax evaders off the hook subject to a  maximum 7.5 per cent registration fee! They even get a discount if they repatriate the funds! Apparently it pays to be a tax evader.

There are, however, some matters  which are not at all clear, yet.

Before insisting on his imaginary “right” not to be pestered by the press, former Minister Ninu Zammit had informed The Malta Independent on Sunday  that all his affairs were now “regularised”, having  made use of the 2014 amnesty to reap the benefits of his hoard stacked in Genève. He was also reported as having stated that the sources of his hoard was income derived from his professional activity  as well as various deals in landed property.

It is public knowledge that Zammit’s land deals were negotiated through the Malta registered limited liability company by the name of LENI Enterprises Limited of which he was both a shareholder and a director.  It is logical that any income from land deals would not only have a bearing on Ninu Zammit’s tax status but also on the reported performance and possible tax liabilities of LENI Enterprises Limited. In this respect, the  company’s financial reporting would certainly make very interesting reading.  Have its audited accounts been submitted to the Malta Financial Services Authority or its predecessors in terms of law?  Who has certified these accounts? What about the role of the auditors of LENI Enterprises Limited?  Is there the need to revisit the audited accounts of LENI Enterprises Limited due to the fact that at least one of its directors has benefited from the latest tax evasion amnesty?

As far as I am aware,  Legal Notice 256 of 2014 only absolves self-declared tax-evaders resident in Malta from their non-observance of income tax legislation. Other crimes could still be actionable .

Such other crimes would include false declarations to Cabinet in terms of the Ministerial Code of Ethics. There may also be other issues should these result from the investigations which the Commissioner of Inland Revenue is currently carrying out on the basis of the information which is now known.

There is however one important thing which we should never underestimate. The benevolence of the state towards tax evaders has no limits. It knows how to take care of these small details too.

 

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday – 1st March 2015

Swiss cheese

Swiss cheese 2

Michael Falzon and Ninu Zammit, retired for some years from politics, are back in the news for the wrong reasons. Tax evasion and false declarations.

They have tried to give some explanations. Michael Falzon has attributed his accumulated investments in HSBC Geneve to his professional earnings from overseas clients between 1975 and 1985. Zammit went one further: in addition to professional earnings in approximately the same timeframe, he has stated that they have also accrued as a result of his land dealings.

It is news that Ninu Zammit had substantial earnings from his profession. Back in the 80s, in his income tax return he used to declare that he barely earned a minimum wage. Way back in the 80s a thick book used to be published by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue listing the income declared and the income tax paid in Malta by all taxable persons. I distinctly remember  that the book used to indicate that Ninu Zammit was one of the poorer chaps on the island then!

I do remember some years back reference to the company LENI Enterprises Co Ltd co-owned between Ninu Zammit and another member of his family. Maybe some enterprising journalist could carry out searches into the assets and liabilities of LENI Enterprises Co Ltd which could  possibly lead to some very interesting results.

Politics and dealings in land were never a good mix. History has proven time and again that such a mix generally produces the worst possible cocktail.

Both Falzon and Zammit have avoided criminal proceedings by making use of one of the amnesties launched over the years. By paying a fine and repatriating their Swiss funds they have been absolved of criminal action relative to tax evasion and infringement of currency rules.

Michael Falzon, when cornered,  admitted his role and in anticipation of the full story in the Sunday papers published his side of the story. Ninu Zammit, on the other hand, was arrogant and argued that his financial affairs were now in order and that as he was no longer in politics he should be left alone.

Both Falzon and Zammit occupied ministerial office. Falzon was minister for nine years between 1987 and 1996. Zammit was parliamentary secretary for nine years (1987-96) and a minister for another ten years (1998-2008). During these years, as from 1994, they filed annual declarations in terms of the Ministerial Code of Ethics supposedly declaring their assets. These declarations were filed in the Cabinet Office and subsequently the Prime Minister notified Parliament by presenting a copy of such declarations for its scrutiny.

It now results that Michael Falzon and Ninu Zammit through false declarations misguided Prime Ministers, Cabinet and Parliament.  No amnesty has or will absolve them of this.

Up till the time of writing, no public apology has been made by either Falzon or Zammit.

It is also unfortunate that so far, Parliament has no available remedy for  this serious breach of the Ministerial Code of Ethics by these two former Cabinet members.

Pending on Parliament’s agenda is a Bill entitled Standards in Public Life Bill. When approved into law this Bill will provide for the appointment of a Commissioner and a Standing Committee with the authority to investigate breaches of statutory or ethical duties of persons in public life.

In its present format, this Standards in Public Life Bill provides for investigations into ethical breaches such as those committed by Michael Falzon and Ninu Zammit only when the persons committing such breaches are still Members of Parliament.

Article 13 of the proposed Act in fact authorises the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to examine declarations made pursuant to the Ministerial Code of Ethics. Unfortunately, the proposed Act does not contemplate action against former Members of Parliament.  Nor does it empower investigations on misdemeanours  going back more than two years.

Hopefully Parliament will revisit the Bill and amend it to empower the Commissioner and the Standing Committee to investigate similar cases. Falzon and Zammit should be made to pay for their false declarations to Cabinet and Parliament by being stripped of their Ministerial pensions. Anything less will make the Ministerial Code of Ethics resemble Swiss cheese.

published on The Malta Independent: 25th February 2015

Meta Michael Falzon u Ninu Zammit besqulna f’wiċċna

Minster's declaration

 

L-evazjoni tat-taxxa hi dejjem materja gravi. Jagħmilha min jagħmilha. F’kull żmien.

Imma l-evażjoni tat-taxxa li ammettew Michael Falzon u Ninu Zammit fi tmiem il-ġimgħa hi gravi ferm iktar. It-tnejn li huma, skond kif iddikjaraw lill-medja huma stess, għamlu użu minn amnestija li permezz tagħha ħallsu l-multi dovuti skond il-kundizzjonijiet ta’ dik l-amnestija. Il-multi li ħallsu ħelsuhom minn proċeduri kriminali għal dak li għamlu.

Imma hemm dnubiet ferm ikbar li la Michael Falzon u l-anqas Ninu Zammit għadhom m’għamlux pentitenza għalihom. L-anqas għad ma taw l-iċken indikazzjoni li jidmu minn dak li għamlu.

Mill-1994 lil hawn skond il-Kodiċi tal-Etika tal-Ministri u tal-Membri Parlamentari huma għamlu dikjarazzjonijiet dwar l-assi  li kienu jippossjedu. Bid-dikjarazzjoni tagħhom ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa Michael Falzon u Ninu Zammit ammettew li għamlu dikjarazzjoni falza quddiem il-Kabinett u quddiem il-Parlament.

Dan hu dnub kbir kontra l-istituzzjonijiet demokratiċi tal-pajjiż. Bid-dikjarazzjoni falza li għamlu quddiem il-Kabinett u quddiem il-Parlament Michael Falzon u Ninu Zammit besqu f’wiċċ kull min wera fiduċja fihom.

L-inqas li nistennew hi apoloġija pubblika. Minflok ikollna ir-reazzjoni arroganti ta’ Ninu Zammit li iddikjara li (issa) għandu kollox regolari u  l-għaliex m’għadux fil-Parlament għandu jitħalla bi kwietu.

Min besaq f’wiċċ l-istituzzjonijiet demokratiċi tal-pajjiż m’għandu l-ebda dritt li jitħalla bi kwietu.

Michael Falzon u Ninu Zammit

Michael Falzon.PN2        Ninu Zammit

Għamel tajjeb Simon Busuttil meta issospenda mill-Partit Nazzjonalista kemm lil Michael Falzon kif ukoll lil Ninu Zammit wara li dawn ammettew li għal xi snin kellhom flus depożitati f’Bank Svizzeru.

L-ammissjoni ta’ Michael Falzon u Ninu Zammit tfisser li waqt li kienu qed jokkupaw karigi Ministerjali, jinsistu ma kulħadd biex josserva l-liġi, huma stess kienu qed jiksruha b’mod sfaċċat.

Kif nistgħu nippretendu li n-nies tosserva l-liġi jekk dawn l-exMinistri kien jiksruha b’mod daqshekk sfaċċat? Mhux biss kisru l-liġi, imma fuq kollox ittradew lil min ħatarhom f’kariga ta’ responsabbilta Ministerjali.

 

 

Ir-riżenja ta’ George Pullicino

Naf li qed noħlom meta ngħid li George Pullicino għandu jirreżenja. Imma naf ukoll li l-politika hi t-twettiq tal-ħolm.

Pullicino għandu jirreżenja għax arroganti u inkompetenti. Dwar l-arroganza tiegħu inkiteb ħafna matul il-perjodu li kien responsabbli għall-MEPA. L-agħar perjodu għal ħafna snin għall-ambjent f’pajjiżna.

Nhar is-7 t’Awissu 2012 il-Kummissjoni Ewropea ippubblikat rapport analitiku dwar kif qed titħaddem fis-27 pajjiż membru l-politika dwar l-immaniġjar tal-iskart. Dan ir-rapport hu intitolat Screening of Waste Management Performance of EU Member States.

F’dan ir-rapport Malta ġiet ikklassifikata fost dawk il-pajjiżi li għandhom deficit fi prattikament l-oqsma kollha tal-implimentazzjoni tal-politika tal-immaniġjar tal-iskart. Ir-rapport hu iktar iebes minn hekk, juża l-kliem implementation gap. Jiġifieri ghad baqa’ ħafna ħafna xi jsir biex il-paroli u l-fatti ma jibqgħux jikkuntrastaw!

Il-Greċja u l-Bulgarija biss ġew ikklassifikati agħar minn pajjiżna. Il-Greċja qegħda f’tarf ta’ kollass ekonomiku u l-Bulgarija mifnija bil-korruzzjoni! Il-Litwanja kklassifikati daqsna!

Dak ċertifikat!

Għal dawn l-aħħar tmien snin ir-responsabbilta’ politika għall-politika dwar l-iskart kienet ta’ George Pullicino.

Kienet responsabbilta li għaddhielu Lawrence Gonzi fl-ewwel Kabinett tiegħu. Responsabbilta’ li ħadha mingħand Ninu Zammit u għaddiha lil Pullicino f’Marzu 2004.

F’dawn it-tmien snin Pullicino iktar kien moħħu fil-konfront politiku bħal dak li infexx fih f’Marsaskala dwar l-Impjant ta’ Sant Antnin milli li jiżviluppa politika dwar l-iskart li taħdem għax hi aċċettata. Bl-arroganza tipika tiegħu rnexxielu jkisser il-possibilita ta’ kunsens mal-komunitajiet u tefa lura ħafna l-iżvilupp ta’ sens komunitarju fil-politika tal-immaniġjar tal-iskart. Ir-riperkussjonijiet għadhom qed jinħassu anke’  illum.

Hu veru li r-rapport tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea janalizza l-qagħda kif kienet sentejn ilu u dan għax jaħdem fuq statistika u rapporti li ilhom ftit ippubblikati. Imma dan ma jgħoddx biss għal pajjiżna. Jgħodd ukoll għal pajjiżi bħall-Awstrija, l-Olanda, id-Danimarka u l-Ġermanja li kienu fuq quddiem nett fil-klassifika u komplew jissaħħew!

Anke’ jekk imxejna ftit il-quddiem, ftit iktar milli jindika r-rapport, xorta għadna lura ħafna. Għal dan jaħti biss George Pullicino.

Ir-rapport juri falliment fil-parti l-kbira mill-kriterji addottati biex jitkejjel il-performance tal-pajjiżi membri tal-Unjoni Ewropea.

Dan hu ċertifikat ta’ falliment li għalih għandu jassumi responsabbilta politika l-Ministru George Pullicino. Jiġifieri għandu jkun raġel u jgħid “fallejt” u jirreżenja. Jagħmel il-wisa’ għal min jista’ jagħti kontribut pożittiv għall-implimentazzjoni tal-politika dwar l-iskart.