Anġlu Farrugia qed iħawwad

artiklu 3 Standards in Public Life

Il-Parlament il-lejla ddiskuta d-deċiżjoni li ħa l-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia li ma aċċettax bħala valida l-mozzjoni ta’ Marlene Farrugia għax din fittxet li tiċċensura lil Keith Schembri l-Kasco, ċ-Chief of Staff fl-uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru.

Presentment hemm pendenti fuq l-aġenda tal-Parlament, abbożż ta’ liġi imsejjaħ Att tal-2014 dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika.

Dan l-abbozz ta’ liġi hu riżultat ta’ diskussjoni dwar l-etika fil-ħajja pubblika li saret f’kumitat magħżul tal-Kamra li fih ħa sehem ukoll l-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia. Punt interessanti li joħroġ minn dan l-abbozz hu li skond l-artiklu 3 tal-abbozz l-persuni “in a position of trust” huma ukoll soġġetti għal skrutinju tal-Parlament.

Anġlu Farrugia kien qabel ma dan. Allura issa għaliex bidel il-ħsieb?

Dan x‘taħwid hu Anġ?

L-intenzjonijiet tajba ta’ Konrad

timesonline 080316

Konrad Mizzi, l-bieraħ waqt Timestalk għamel pass żgħir il-quddiem: aċċetta li d-deċiżjoni tiegħu (anke jekk fuq parir tal-konsulenti Nexia BT) li jiftaħ kumpanija fil-Panama kienet deċiżjoni ħażina. An error of judgement.

Din id-deċiżjoni ħażina imma, ma tistax tħares lejha b’mod iżolat. Trid inevitabilment taraha f’kuntest iktar wiesgħa li jinkludi taħdidiet dwar negożju mal-iktar Gvern korrott tad-dinja (l-Azerbaijan) minn delegazzjoni tal-Gvern Malti magħmula biss minn politiċi u l-assistenti tagħhom maħtura fuq bażi ta’ fiduċja (position of trust).

Huwa minħabba dan li l-eżistenza tal-kumpaniji ta’ Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri qanqlu r-reazzjoni li żviluppat f’dawn il-ġimgħatejn.

Konrad isostni li għamel kollox b’intenzjoni tajba. Imma sfortunatament, anke kieku dan kien minnu, l-ammissjoni ta’ deċiżjoni żbaljat (error of judgement) tfisser li Konrad ma għarafx il-konsegwenzi gravi ta’ din id-deċiżjoni.

Din id-deċiżjoni effettwat il-kredibilità tiegħu, għax diffiċli biex temmen dak li qed jgħid. Għandha effett ukoll fuq il-kredibilità tal-Gvern li tiegħu Konrad hu Ministru ewlieni.

Huwa għalhekk li jiena għidt li l-unika triq li kellu Konrad kienet li minn jeddu jirriżenja. Dan ikun pass kemm fl-interess ta’ Konrad innifsu kif ukoll fl-interess tal-Gvern stess.

Huwa fuq passi bħal dan li tinbena t-tmexxija tajba (good governance). Għax jekk il-politiku mhux kapaċi jerfa’ l-konsegwenzi tad-deċizjonijiet tiegħu, ikun inutli li joqgħod jlablab dwar good governance.

L-imġieba ta’ Konrad u ta’ Keith tal-Kasko

Standards in Public Life Bill

Waqt li għaddejja l-argumenti dwar il-kumpaniji ta’ Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri tal-Kasco fil-Panama tajjeb li nħarsu ftit lejn l-aġenda tal-Parlament.

Fiha hemm item pendenti bl-isem ta’ abbozz ta’ liġi dwar l-Istandards fil-ħajja pubblika. Dan l-abbozz ta’ liġi japplika għall-membri parlamentari [bħal Konrad Mizzi] u għal persuni impjegati in a position of trust [bħal Keith Schembri tal-Kasco].

Il-Gvern ilu kwazi sentejn ikaxkar saqajh dwar din il-liġi għax minkejja li kien hemm qbil unanimu dwarha fis-Select Committee, din baqgħet fuq l-ixkaffa.

Kieku Joseph Muscat serju u verament jemmen dak li qed jgħid, kieku din il-liġi ilha approvata.

Kieku l-liġi dwar l-istandards fil-ħajja pubblika ġiet approvata diġa inħatar Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika li għada it-Tnejn kien jibgħat għal Konrad u Keith Schembri tal-Kasco u jitlobhom spjegazzjoni dettaljata dwar il-kumpanija tagħhom fil-Panama u jiftaħ investigazzjoni immedjatament.

Imma kieku …………. jibqa’ kieku ………….. għax Joseph u l-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern għadhom qed ikaxkru saqajhom.

Michael Falzon vittma?

Michael Falzon 5

Qed jingħad li Michael Falzon hu vittma, għax kellu jirriżenja minkejja li ma għamel xejn ħażin. Huwa stess emfasizza li fl-ebda ħin ma ndaħal, la biex saru l-istimi u fl-ebda materja oħra konnessa mal-esproprijazzjoni.

Kull persuna politika f’kariga eżekuttiva trid iġġorr ir-responsabbiltà politika għall-ħidma tad-dipartimenti li jkunu responsabbli għalihom. Spiss insegwu politiċi jiftaħru bil-ħidma tad-dipartimenti differenti. Konferenzi stampa ma jispiċċaw qatt, artikli fl-ewwel paġna tal-gazzetti u xandir ta’ aħbarijiet fuq ir-radju u it-TV. Anke meta l-politiku ma jkun għamel xejn, jippretendi li jieħu l-mertu.

Bl-istess mod li l-politiku jieħu l-mertu meta l-ħidma tagħti riżultati tajbin irid jieħu t-tort meta l-effetti jkunu negattivi.

Il-politiku f’kariga eżekuttiva jkollu l-għajnuna fil-ħidma tiegħu. Din hi l-funzjoni tas-segretarjat privat tal-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari. Smajna tul il-ġimgħat li għaddew kif il-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari għandhom id-dritt li dawk ta’ madwarhom ikunu persuni li huma jkollhom fiduċja fihom. Il-ħatriet ta’ dawn il-persuni qrib il-politiċi spiss jirreferu għalihom bħala trusted persons li jokkupaw positions of trust. Il-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari għandhom bżonn madwarhom lil dawn il-persuni li fihom ikollhom fiduċja, biex ikollhom min jassistihom fit-twettiq tal-missjoni politika tagħhom. Dan jagħmluh billi jgħinu lill-Ministri u lis-Segretarji Parlamentari fit-twettiq tal-politika tal-Gvern, iżommuhom infurmati dwar x’ikun qed jiġri fid-Dipartimenti u Awtoritiajiet differenti u jagħtuhom il-pariri meħtieġa dwar dak li jinqala’ minn żmien għal żmien.

Allura l-mistoqsija li teħtieġ tweġiba mhiex jekk Michael Falzon kienx vittma, imma ta’ min kien vittma.

X’għamlu l-persuni ta’ fiduċja madwar Michael Falzon biex jassiguraw ruħhom li kien infurmat sewwa dwar id-deċiżjonijiet li kien mitlub jieħu dwar l-esproprijazzjoni ta’ 36 Triq iz-Zekka l-Qadima l-Belt Valletta? It-tweġiba issibuha fir-rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali.

Insibu, per eżempju, fir-rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali, li wieħed mill-impjegati fis-segretarjat privat ta’ Michael Falzon [li minn sorsi oħra jidher li kien magħruf bħala l-King tal-Lands, żagħżugħ ta’ 23 sena] akkumpanja lil Marco Gaffarena f’laqgħat fid-Dipartiment ma’ Direttur Ġenerali u Direttur li issa irriżenjaw. Imkien ma jidher li nżammu minuti ta’ dawn il-laqgħat. Għalhekk mhux magħruf x’intqal u x’ġie diskuss f’dawn il-laqgħat.

Il-persuni ta’ madwarek jistgħu jagħmlulek ġid kbir. Imma jistgħu ukoll ifarrkuk. Skond kemm ikunu kapaċi.

Ikun tajjeb kieku l-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari jifhmu li filwaqt li huwa sewwa li jkollhom il-persuni tal-fiduċja tagħhom madwarhom dawn għandhom ikunu kapaċi għal xogħolhom. Għax fl-aħħar dak li tiżra’ taħsad.

Imbagħad inutli toqgħod teqred li inti vittma.

L-isparatura fi Triq il-Wied tal-Kappara: lil hinn mill-cover-up

cock fighting

 

L-isparatura tax-xufier ta’ Manwel Mallia nhar l-Erbgħa 19 ta’ Novembru 2014 fil-għaxija fi Triq il-Wied tal-Kappara l-Gżira issa ilha sbatax-il ġurnata li seħħet. Kull jum li jgħaddi joħorġu ftit iktar dettalji dwar dak li ġara u min għamlu.

L-aħħar biċċa aħbar hi dwar it-telefonati : min tkellem, ma min u meta. S’issa li qed nikteb it-telefonati għadna ma smajnihomx, ħlief waħda ippubblikata dal-għodu. Nafu biss dak li qalulna tan-NET TV dwar dak li suppost fihom. Ħadd s’issa (ħlief forsi Joe Mikallef tan-NET TV) għadu ma jaf jekk dan hux kollox.  Jew jekk hemmx iktar.

Dawn huma kollha dettalji importanti. Imma jibqgħu dettalji. Id-dettalji li qed jiffukaw fuqhom il-Partit Nazzjonalista u l-Partit Laburista.

Kemm il-Partit Nazzjonalista kif ukoll il-Partit Laburista, it-tnejn li huma, ħadu l-posizzjoni politika li l-politiku li qed jokkupa uffiċċju politiku (holder of political office) għandu jerfa’ r-responsabbilita politika tiegħu billi jirreżenja jekk għamel xi ħaġa li m’għandux jagħmel,  inkella jekk naqas milli jagħmel dak li kellu jagħmel. Għalhekk il-PN ilu mill-bidu nett jemfasizza li f’dan il-każ sar cover-up. Għalhekk ukoll il-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern qed jiġġieled kontra dan l-argument u fetah inkjesta biex jiġi stabilit eżattament x’ġara. Bħal dak li qallu li mhux kulħadd jaf ! Kulħadd, jiġifieri, minbarra l-Prim Ministru u l-Ministru tal-Pulizija.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista jidhirlu li l-cover-up hu ovvju. Il-Gvern qed jittama li bit-tidwir tal-legaliżmi tal-inkjesta dak li hu ċar jiġi mċajpar.

Huwa interessanti li la l-Partit Nazzjonalista u l-anqas il-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern ma tkellmu dwar ir-responabbilta’ politika li għandu l-politiku f’ħatra politiku għal dawk ta’ madwaru: dawk ta’ fiduċja (f’position of trust) kif ukoll dawk fid-Dipartimenti/Awtoritajiet li għalihom ikun responsabbli.

Huwa ovvju għalfejn kemm il-Partit Nazzjonalista kif ukoll il-Partit Laburista qagħdu lura minn dan. Li ma qagħdux lura kieku ilna 17-il ġurnata b’Ministru tal-Intern ġdid. Li ma qagħdux lura l-Partit Nazzjonalista kien jeħtieġlu jispjega għalfejn ma kellniex riżenji fis-snin li għaddew.

Dan kollu huwa l-konsegwenza diretta ta’ sistema politika dominata minn żewġ partiti. Fejn l-interessi tagħhom jiġu qabel l-interessi tat-tmexxija tajba tal-pajjiż.

 

Lobbying risks corruption

 

EU.lobbying

In a democratic society, lobbying is a potentially legitimate activity. It 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, 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.

Free and open access to decision takers is an important matter of public interest. It is perfectly legitimate but ought to be regulated and the resulting information adequately and appropriately disclosed. The difficulty, as always, is where to draw the line. It must be ensured that society protects itself against the corruption risks involved in lobbying when this is secretive and unregulated.

The manner in which Dalligate is unfolding in the EU institutions clearly underlines this preoccupation.  The European Institutions have lobbying rules.  The basic issue of Dalligate is in my view not whether former EU Commissioner John Dalli resigned or was dismissed. Rather, in line with the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, the issue is whether he “acted in a manner that is in keeping with the dignity and duties” of his office when meeting with lobbyists away from the Commission offices, unaccompanied, and such that what went on during the meetings is not documented but known only to a couple of persons. Even if everything said in such meetings was above board, the fact that they were held is itself unacceptable. John Dalli claims, most probably correctly, that he was entrapped by the tobacco industry. Being so naive as to facilitate his own entrapment, it was right that he should go without a whimper. Instead we were regaled with theatrics which have served no useful purpose, not even for John Dalli.

All this is further compounded by the additional very serious allegation that representatives of the tobacco industry met with other senior officials of the EU Commission without these meetings being disclosed and documented.  Emily O’Reilly Ombudsman of the European Union is currently carrying out an investigation at the request of Corporate Europe Observatory on fourteen such meetings.

Corporate Europe Observatory, a watchdog based in Brussels and campaigning for greater transparency and accountability in decision taking, estimates that in Brussels alone there are around 30,000 lobbyists. Compare this to the around 24,000 staff employed by the European Commission as on 31 December 2013 and you get a glimpse of what’s going on in the corridors of Brussels. Lobbying in Brussels is a billion euro industry which seeks to influence and at times deflect political decisions. The regulation of lobbying seeks to place a spotlight on the source of influence and hopefully to counter attempts to derail or deflect political decisions.

There is a continuous debate in the EU institutions on fine tuning the rules regulating lobbying. In 2011 the European Parliament approved an “Inter-institutional agreement on a Common Transparency Register between the Parliament and the Commission”. This register provides for the voluntary registering of lobbyists active in the EU institutions. It is hoped that during the current EU Parliament’s term the registration of lobbyists in Brussels will be a compulsory matter. This may happen when the issues raised by Dalligate are finally addressed, possibly within the next few months.

Closer to home, a Parliamentary Select Committee has concluded its workings on Standards in Public Life. The Select Committee generally did a good job. It produced a final report which Mr Speaker laid on the Table of the House on the 24 March 2014. The report, including the proposed legislation attached to the said report, deals with the behaviour of Members of Parliament (including members of Cabinet) and persons appointed to positions of trust in the public sector (including statutory authorities) primarily with reference to their declaration of assets as well as with reference to a Code of Ethics which has been in force since 1994.  Surprisingly there is no direct reference to lobbying in the workings and conclusions of the Parliamentary Select Committee.

Lobbying, as is normal, is very much existent in Malta too. It would be appropriate if it is addressed by ensuring that it is regulated, documented and disclosed where appropriate. However it seems that currently there are no plans to regulate lobbying in Malta. If we are really serious on tackling corruption at its roots it would be better if the need to regulate lobbying is urgently reconsidered. Together with legislation on the financing of political parties, the regulation of lobbying would create a quasi complete tool-kit in the fight against corruption.

published in The Times of Malta – 21 July 2014

Following the footsteps of Austin Gatt

Labour party + meritocracy

The Labour Party in Government has appointed Mr James Piscopo, until a few days ago Chief Executive Officer of the Labour Party, as the new Chief Executive Officer of Transport Malta. He replaces Dr Stanley Portelli who in his turn was also handpicked for the post of CEO of Transport Malta by former Transport Minister Austin Gatt.

There is no general rule which determines the manner in which Chief Executives of public corporations are appointed. Some were handpicked, others were selected on the basis of a selection process. In most cases there is the overriding rule in specific legislation that the final decision has to be confirmed by the Minister in office.

At the end of the day it is a matter of policy. Will merit rule the day or will top posts be filled on the basis of the political criterion of being considered as a position of trust?

The PN in government used both methods. During the electoral campaign which ended a few days ago Labour emphasized that it will act on the basis of merit.

It seems that we are back to where we started.  Labour is now following in the footsteps of Austin Gatt.