Lock Them Up

This has been one of those weeks which former UK Labour leader Harold Wilson had in mind when he emphasised that a week is a long time in politics.

Two specific actions stick out. The first is the determination of PN Leader Adrian Delia to splinter the party, which he still leads, into insignificance. The second being the National Audit Office (NAO) report on the concession awarded to Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) by the Maltese Government. The NAO report concluded that there was collusive behaviour between government and Vitals Global Healthcare.

Both the Labour Party in government as well as the Nationalist Party in Opposition are in a state of a disorganised mess, which, as rightly pointed out by the Malta Employers Association mid-week, could easily lead to a political and institutional meltdown. The Labour Government has been in cahoots with those seeking to make a quick buck at the expense of the public purse for the past seven years. The absence of a Parliamentary Opposition worthy of the name has made it easier not just to avoid accountability but also to come back for more.

Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat together with their accomplices should have been behind bars long ago: the former for directing the plundering of the public purse, the latter (at least) for protecting him. They have given rise to a Mafia state. Those who ought to govern plunder openly thereby transmitting the clear message that “crime pays”.

The recent contest for the Labour leadership was lost by those campaigning under the unofficial slogan “lock them up”. The continuity campaign won as it was the safest bet ensuring “more of the same”, or at least, the possible protection of what has been plundered.

The NAO investigation and the resulting report on the award of the contracts to Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) was requested by the trade union Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin (UĦM). The report is entitled “An audit of matters relating to the concession awarded to Vitals Global Healthcare by Government. Part 1: A review of the tender process.” The fact that this is just Part 1 indicates that there is much more waiting to be known.

The 219 page NAO report is quite detailed. The basic point raised is that even before it issued its “Request for Proposals” government had already agreed with Vitals Global Healthcare through a secret agreement which, for obvious reasons, it did not make available to the NAO. NAO however identified that VGH, in reply to the “Request for Proposals”, submitted a letter from the Bank of India as proof of access to finance for the “Malta Healthcare Project” which letter was dated fourteen days before the Request for Proposals was issued by the Maltese Government. The existence of this document led the NAO to conclude that this was definite evidence “of the VGH’s prior knowledge of the planned project and proof of collusion with Government, or its representatives.”

This is the most damning condemnation possible of the Government procurement process and the circumventing of the normal procurement process under the direction of the Director of Contracts: the political responsibility of Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.

Most fingers are pointing towards Konrad Mizzi, now conveniently dismissed from the Labour Parliamentary Group, and his protector Joseph Muscat. Edward Scicluna too, however, must shoulder political responsibility for acts of omission.

It was only as recent as Friday 26 June 2020 that Edward Scicluna, when receiving the 2019 Annual report of the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB), emphasised the need for all government Ministries to nurture finance professionals to take adequate care of public expenditure. He had then emphasised that “the country is committed to the highest standards”.

The NAO in its VGH report has certified the real standards of the public procurement process under Edward Scicluna’s watch!

Prime Minister Robert Abela had the cheek to state that the NAO report is proof of the functioning of our institutions. Rather, I think the basic conclusion to be reached from the NAO VGH report is that Abela’s predecessor has successfully transformed the Labour Party into a modern version of Ali Baba and the forty thieves. The fact that Robert Abela is the “successful” continuity candidate speaks volumes.

published on the Malta Independent on Sunday : 12 July 2020

Good riddance

Joseph qal li ser jitlaq. Tajjeb, pass il-quddiem għall-pajjiż.

Fost il-lista ta’ affarijiet li semma nesa’ waħda importanti ħafna: li kemm ilu Prim Ministru kontinwament għalaq għajnejh għall-korruzzjoni. Ma ħax passi fuq l-iskandlu tal-Panama Papers, 17Black …….

Id-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli ma jimpressjona lill-ħadd.

Good riddance.

L-iżbilanċ ambjentali

L-iżbilanċ ambjentali qiegħed dejjem jiżdied. Fid-diskors twil iżżejjed tiegħu meta ħabbar il-Baġit, il-Ministru tal-Finanzi Edward Scicluna dan il-fatt ma jagħtix kas tiegħu.

L-iżviluppaturi tal-propjetà, permezz tal-assoċjazzjoni tagħhom l-MDA esprimaw is-sodisfazzjon tagħhom dwar Baġit li għal darba oħra aċċetta l-proposti tagħhom biex l-iskemi ta’ inċentivi dwar tnaqqis ta’ taxxi marbuta max-xiri tal-propjetà jkunu estiżi. Il-Baġit jippreżenta dawn il-proposti b’libsa ta’ proposti soċjali. Fir-realtà huma miżuri kontra l-ambjent għax għandhom impatt dirett fuq iktar żvilupp ta’ art kif ukoll fuq l-intensifikazzjoni tal-iżvilupp fiż-żoni urbani tagħna.

It-turiżmu tal-Cruise liners huwa mfaħħar fid-diskors tal-Baġit. Il-Ministru Scicluna jentużjażma ruħu ftit iżżejjed meta jħabbar fid-diskors tiegħu li l-industrija tal-cruise liners f’Malta kibret b’75% tul dawn l-aħħar sitt snin. Il-Ministru Scicluna, probabbilment mhux konxju biżżejjed li l-industrija tal-cruise liners hi kontributur mhux żgħir fil-kontaminazzjoni tal-kwalità tal-arja.

Jeżistu diversi studji dwar l-impatti ambjentali tal-cruise liners fl-ibħra internazzjonali. Il-materja kienet mistħarrġa ukoll minn għaqda ambjentali lokali bl-għajnuna ta’ għaqda ambjentali Ġermaniża. Il-kampjuni tal-arja li ħadu mill-inħawi tal-Port il-Kbir jindikaw preżenza mhux żgħira ta’ partikoli mikroskopiċi fl-arja li qed jispiċċaw fil-pulmun ta’ dawk li jgħixu, jaħdmu inkella sempliċiment jgħaddu mil-lokalitajiet madwar il-Port il-Kbir. Bla dubju l-istess ħaġa insibuha f’Birżebbuġa bħala riżultat tal-operazzjonijiet tal-Port Ħieles.

Biex dan ikun indirizzat, soluzzjoni possibli tkun l-introduzzjoni ta’ obbligu li l-vapuri jagħmlu użu minn elettriku ġġenerat fuq l-art meta dawn ikunu mal-moll. Dwar dan diġa saru studji preliminari. L-istudji, iżda, mhumiex biżżejjed. Jirrikjedu ukoll id-disponibilità għall-azzjoni – disponibilità li presentement ma teżistix. L-istudju dwar il-Port il-Kbir sar fl-2014 filwaqt li dak dwar Birżebbuġa sar fl-2018. Dwar dan kollu d-diskors tal-Baġit hu sieket.

Il-Gvern għadu ma ħabbarx id-data li minnha ‘l-quddiem mhux ser ikun possibli li jkunu impurtati f’Malta karozzi li jaħdmu bil-petrol jew bid-diżil. Ġejna nfurmati li din id-data tista’ titħabbar fl-2020. It-tfassil tal-istrateġija tal-Gvern f’dan il-qasam qed tieħu fit-tul biex tieħu sura meta kien il-Prim Ministru nnifsu li ħabbarha iktar minn sentejn ilu. Ma hemm l-ebda serjetà fil-mod kif din l-istrateġija qed tkun imfassla. Il-materja mhix biss dwar li ma nimpurtawx iktar karozzi li jaħdmu bil-petrol jew bid-diżil.

Tinvolvi ukoll l-interess esaġerat kurrenti fl-iżvilupp ta’ pompi tal-petrol ġodda f’diversi inħawi ta’ Malta. Għax xi ħtieġa hemm għal iktar pompi tal-petrol meta d-deċiżjoni dwar l-elettrifikazzjoni tat-trasport privat qiegħed wara l-bieb? Moratorju immedjat dwar l-iżvilupp ta’ pompi tal-petrol ġodda kienet tkun deċiżjoni tajba u f’waqtha, meta hu aċċettat minn kulħadd li ma hemmx użu għalihom!

Il-Baġit, ifaħħar u jiftaħar bl-investiment massiċċ fl-infrastruttura tat-toroq. B’mod partikolari dwar mini jew fly-overs li x-xogħol dwarhom għaddej inkella qiegħed fi stadju avvanzat ta’ ippjanar.

Il-ġustifikazzjoni għal dan, minn dikjarazzjonijiet diversi li saru matul ix-xhur li għaddew, hi, biex tkun indirizzata l-konġestjoni tat-traffiku. Studji li saru madwar id-dinja kollha repetutament żvelaw li dawn it-tipi ta’ żviluppi fl-infrastruttura tat-toroq inevitabilment twassal għal-iktar traffiku.

Il-Minstru dan kollu jinjorah u jibqa’ jinsisti li jarmi daqstant miljuni ta’ ewro. Apparti li jgħarbel ftit l-esperjenza f’pajjiżi oħra, l-Onor. Ministru għandu jikkonsulta ruħu wkoll mal-Master-Plan għat-Trasport li tfassal taħt id-direzzjoni tal-Gvern li minnu jifforma parti u li b’mod mill-iktar ċar ifisser kif it-tnaqqis tal-karozzi privati mit-toroq tagħna hu għan essenzjali. Il-Ministru għall-Finanzi għandu jfittex li jkun jaf l-għaliex il-Gvern jitlob il-pariri u mbagħad dawn ikunu injorati.

Fl-aħħar il-Gvern irrealizza li hemm ħtieġa ta’ strateġija għal Green New Deal. Din hija strateġija li tindirizza l-impatti tat-tibdil fil-klima b’mod sostenibbli: ekonomikament, ekologikament u soċjalment. Imma biex strateġija ta’ dan ix-xorta tkun tagħmel sens, il-Gvern għandu, l-ewwel u qabel kollox iżarma l-istrateġiji li diġa għandu u li huma dijametrikament opposti għall-Green New Deal.

Ma jagħmilx sens, per eżempju, li filwaqt li l-Gvern repetutament jiddikjara ruħu favur il-ħtieġa tal-ħarsien ambjentali, imma mbagħad kontinwament joħroġ inċentivi biex jinkoraġixxi is-suq tal-propjetà. Lanqas ma jagħmel sens li jibqa’ għaddej bil-programm intensiv tal-iżvilupp tal-infrastruttura tat-toroq jew li jibqa’ għaddej bil-pjani dwar l-iżvilupp tal-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex li inevitabilment ser isservi biex iktar karozzi jaqsmu bejn il-gżejjer b’faċilità.

Flok l-għotjiet għax-xiri tal-batteriji għall-ħażna tal-elettriku ġġenerat mill-pannelli fotovoltajiċi kien ikun ferm aħjar kieku l-Gvern jagħti bidu għal investiment massiv biex ikun assigurat li s-sistema tad-distribuzzjoni tal-elettriku titjib għax hu b’dan li jista’ jkun aċċertat illi fid-djar tagħna jkun possibli li niġġeneraw iktar elettriku mix-xemx. In-nuqqas ta’ miżuri effettivi biex tkun iġġenerata iktar enerġija minn sorsi rinovabbli juru kemm mhu veru xejn li l-Gvern hu kommess favur t-tfassil u l-implimentazzjoni ta’ strateġija dwar il-Green New Deal.

Il-Ministru tal-Finanzi qed jgħaddina biż-żmien meta f’nifs wieħed jinsisti jitkellem dwar Għawdex bħala gżira ekoloġika filwaqt li jibqa’ jinsisti fuq “ħtieġa” għall-mina bejn il-gżejjer. Mina li ser taċċellera l-ħsara ambjentali fil-gżira Għawdxija.

L-iżbilanċ ambjentali qed jikber kontinwament, bla ebda kontroll ta’ xejn.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum: Il-Ħadd 20 ta’ Ottubru 2019

 

The environmental deficit

The environmental deficit is still rising and  the long-winded Budget speech by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna last Monday did not address it.

Through the MDA, their association, property developers have expressed satisfaction at the Budget as, once more, it has taken up their proposals intended to further extend tax incentive schemes linked to the purchase of property. The budget presents these measures as being of a social nature when, in fact, that are anti-environmental measures because their direct impact is the take-up of more land as well as additional pressure on the intensification of the development of our urban areas.

Cruise liner tourism comes in for substantial praise in the Budget speech. Minister Scicluna was over-enthusiastic in announcing that there has been a 75 per cent  increase in the cruise liner industry in Malta over the last six years. He may not be sufficiently aware that the cruise liner industry is a substantial contributor to the degradation of air quality. Various studies have been carried out on the environmental impacts of cruise liners on the high seas and the subject has also been studied by a local environmental NGO with the support of their German counterparts.

Their studies revealed that air samples taken from the Grand Harbour area indicte the presence of a high level of microscopic particulate matter, which is ending in the respiratory systems of those living, working or passing through this area. Similar issues undoubtedly exist in Birżebbuġa as a result of the operations of the Freeport.

A possible solution to address this problem  is the introduction of a compulsory shore-to-ship electricity supply – in respect of which preliminary studies have already been carried out. The studies, however, are not enough. They require a commitment to act – a commitment is currently non-existent. The studies date back to 2014 in respect of the Grand Harbour and to 2018 in respect of Birżebbuġa.

The government has not yet announced the cut-off date for the importation of cars running on petrol and diesel. We were informed that it may be announced some time in 2020. The government strategy in this respect is taking too long too formulate – given that it was announced by the Prime Minister over two years ago.

There is alack of seriousness about the manner in which this issue is being addressed. It  does not just involve determining when no more vehicles running on petrol or diesel will be imported; it also involves the current acute interest in the development of new fuel service stations in various parts of the island. Why do we need such fuel service stations if electrification of private transport is around the corner? An immediate moratorium on the development of new fuel service stations would have been quite appropriate, given that it is accepted by one and all that there will be no use for them!

In addition, the budget praises the heavy investment in road infrastructure, in particular the construction fly-overs and tunnels, the construction of which are either already in hand or else at an advanced state of planning. The justification for this, as has been made through various statements over the months, is to address the ever-increasing traffic congestion.

Studies carried out all over the world have repeatedly revealed that such developments in the road infrastructure inevitably leads to more traffic. Minster Scicluna ignores this experience from other countries and keeps insisting in channelling millions of euros down the drain. He should consult the Transport Master-Plan, drawn up under the direction of his own government, which clearly lists the reduction of the number of vehicles on our roads as an essential objective. The Finance Minister should query why his government commissions experts for their advice which it then ignores.

The Government has, at last realised that it needs a ‘Green New Deal’ strategy – a strategy which addresses the impacts of climate change sustainably, economically, ecologically and socially. But for such a strategy to make sense, it should first dismantle its existing strategies which are in direct opposition to a ‘Green New Deal’.

It does not make sense, for example, for the Government to declare the need to protect the environment and then hands out all sorts of incentives to encourage the property market. Nor does it make sense to keep to its programme of intensive development of the road infrastructure, or to keep pushing for the development of a tunnel between Malta and Gozo, which will only serve the free movement of more cars between the islands.

Instead of grants for batteries to store electricity generated through solar panels, it would have been much better had the Government embarked on a massive investment to ensure a better distribution network of electricity, as this would – of itself – increase the potential for the generation of more renewable energy by households. The lack of effective measures to generate more energy from renewable sources clearly shows that Government is not really committed to drafting and implementing a real ‘Green New Deal’ strategy.

The Minister of Finance is taking everybody for a ride when, on the one hand he speaks of Gozo as an ecological island and then, on the other, keeps insisting on the ‘need’ for a tunnel between the islands, – which will only serve to accelerate the environmental degradation of Gozo.

The environmental deficit is clearly out of control.

 

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday 20 October 2019

Għajnuna lis-suspettati?

F’kummenti lill-istampa dwar informazzjoni ppubblikata l-bieraħ fis-Sunday Times li tagħti dettalji dwar l-investigazzjoni li qed jagħmlu l-Pulizija Joseph Muscat qal li hu ma jikkummentax. F’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi l-uniċi nies li jibbenefikaw mill-informazzjoni ppubblikata huma dawk taħt suspett, qal Joseph.

Naqbel miegħu mija fil-mija.

Issa s-Sunday Times il-bieraħ qalet li l-informazzjoni ġiet għandha minn sorsi viċin ħafna tal-investigazzjoni.

Nistgħu allura nikkonkludu li min kixef l-informazzjoni jrid jgħin lil dawk li huma taħt suspett?

Għal darb’oħra: il-PLPN jimxu id f’id, favur il-ħsara ambjentali

 

L-approvazzjoni mill-Parlament, iktar kmieni illum,  tal-mozzjoni dwar il-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex tikkonferma dak li ilna nafu: li fil-qerda ambjentali l-Partit Nazzjonalista u l-Partit Laburista jimxu id f’id. Jaqblu.

Ta’ xejn iżejnu l-argumenti tagħhom biex jippruvaw jagħtu l-messaġġ dwar kemm qalbhom taħraqhom għall-ambjent għax ma jimpressjonaw lil ħadd.

Il-proġett tal-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex ser ikun il-kawża ta’ ħsara ambjentali enormi. L-istudji, jekk isiru sewwa, għad jikkonfermaw il-kobor ta’ din il-ħsara.

Hu tal-mistħija li fil-Parlament ma kien hemm l-ebda vuċi kredibbli li esponiet il-kaz ambjentali kontra l-proġett tal-mina. L-ebda leħen kredibbli li jfiehem kemm il-konnettività bejn Malta u Għawdex tista’ titjieb sostanzjalment b’soluzzjonijiet alternattivi.

Hi ta’ sfortuna li membri parlamentari kollha li hemm fil-Parlament illum ġew eletti fuq manifest elettorali li jappoġġaw il-mina u dan mingħajr l-ebda eċċezzjoni.

Hemm messaġġ wieħed ċar, għal min irid jifhmu. Forsi min ittama li jista’ xi darba jara xi ħjiel ta’ appoġġ ambjentali mill-PN u PL jiftaħ ftit għajnejħ u jirrealizza li kull meta dawn tkellmu dwar l-ambjent kellhom skop wieħed, biex jgħadduk biż-żmien.

Issa, kull ma jonqos hu t-timbru tal-pupazzi fl-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar u l-Awtorità għall-Ambjent u r-Riżorsi.

Sven Giegold u l-Partit Nazzjonalista

Sven Giegold ilu jsegwi dak li qiegħed jiġri f’Malta. Tkellem diversi drabi fuq materji differenti. Fuq il-ħasil tal-flus, fuq il-korruzzjoni, u fuq l-evażjoni tat-taxxa. Bla dubju ifforma l-opinjoni tiegħu primarjament minn dak li hu magħruf pubblikament. Imma ukoll minn dak li sema’ kemm waqt iż-żjarat ta’ delegazzjonijiet tal-Parlament tal-EU f’Malta kif ukoll minn dak li jisma’ membri parlamentari Maltin fil-Parlament Ewropew jgħidu.

Waqt li jiena m’għandi l-ebda ħsieb li nikkundanna lil ħadd, irrid iżda nirrimarka li dak li ngħidu barra minn xtutna fuq pajjiżna, anke meta jkun veru, jista’ jagħmel ħafna ħsara. Kien ikun faċli għalija u għal sħabi f’Alternattiva Demokratika li nippreżentaw mozzjonijiet dwar il-qagħda politika f’Malta fil-laqghat internazzjonali li nattendu. Għażilna li dan ma nagħmluħx biex ma nagħmlux ħsara iktar milli diġa qed issir mill-Gvern Malti nnifsu.

Lill-Gvern Malti ikkritikajnieh diversi drabi. Ma qbilniex miegħu u tkellimna dwar dan pubblikament elf darba. Tkellimna dwar il-korruzzjoni, dwar il-ħasil tal-flus, dwar l-iskandlu tal-Panama u li l-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat żbalja meta ma ħax passi drastiċi kontra Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri. Għidna diversi drabi li Muscat kellu jerfa’ ir-responsabbilta politika għall-fatt li naqas li jaġixxi. U għamilna sewwa li tkellimna b’dan il-mod.

Ma għandna għalfejn ninfurmaw lil ħadd fi Brussell dwar dak li qiegħed jiġri f’Malta għax kulħadd għandu għajnejħ f’wiċċu. Ġieli f’laqgħat internazzjonali jistaqsuna dwar dak li jkun għaddej u niddiskutu l-fatti mingħajr esaġerazzjonijiet.

Dak li ġara f’Malta f’dawn l-aħħar xhur u snin hu magħruf minn kulħadd. Sempliċi search fuq l-internet u jkollok l-istorja kollha.

Huwa f’dan il-kuntest li l-presentazzjoni tal-mozzjoni ta’ Sven Giegold kienet il-pass loġiku għal min iħares lejn Malta minn barra. Għalija u għal Alternattiva Demokratika hu pass żejjed li kien ikun aħjar li ma sarx. Imma għal min tefa’ l-ħatab fin-nar ma jistax issa jgħid li ma kkontribwixxiex anke ftit għal din is-sitwazzjoni.

Għaldaqstant, il-kundanna ta’ Sven Giegold mill-PN hi ftit ipokrita. Ikun aħjar jekk jeżaminaw ftit il-kuxjenza tagħhom u jaraw x’kontribut taw biex sviluppat din is-sitwazzjoni.

Il-kaz tal immigranti fuq l-Aquarius

Għamel tajjeb il-Gvern Malti li iddikjara li ser jimxi mar-regoli. Mhux dejjem kien hekk, imma tajjeb li l-Gvern tgħallem.

Is-saga tal-bastiment Aquarius li Matteo Salvini, Ministru tal-Intern Taljan irrifjuta li jħalli jidħol fil-portijiet Taljani jidher li ser jikber. L-Aquarius qed iġorr 629 immigrant li inġabru minn biċċiet tal-baħar f’diffikulta tul il-Kosta tal-Libja. Inġabru mill-Guardia Costiera Taljana jew minn vapuri merkantili f’żona li fiha Malta żgur li m’għandiex responsabbiltá.

Dan hu it-tieni każ f’din l-ewwel ġimgħa tal-Gvern il-ġdid populista Taljan magħmul mil-Lega u Moviment Cinque Stelle.

Kien mistenni li dan ser jiġri u kien għalhekk li iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa Alternattiva Demokratika, fi stqarrija, għidna li Malta għanda bżonn allejati ġodda fl-Unjoni Ewropeja. Għax il-Gvernijiet Ewropej li ma jħarsux b’lenti tajba lejn is-solidarjetá qed jiżdiedu.

Fl-ewwel ta’ Lulju it-tmexxija tal-Unjoni Ewropeja tgħaddi f’idejn l-Awstrija, pajjiż ieħor fejn il-populiżmu jirrenja. Ma tantx jidhru possibli deċiżjonijiet favur is-solidarjetá fix-xhur li ġejjin.

Kien għalhekk importanti li l-Prim Ministru dal-għodu afferma l-posizzjoni tal-Gvern favur l-osservanza tal-obbligi internazzjonali u li l-posizzjoni li ħa u jibqa’ jieħu l-Gvern Malti hi waħda li tagħti prijoritá li jkunu salvati ħajjiet in-nies.

Dan hu tajjeb u jgħin biex ikun imrazzan it-trewwieħ favur ir-razziżmu. Hu neċessarju li Malta tibqa’ taħdem favur miżuri ta’ solidarjetá tant meħtieġa fl-Unjoni Ewropea.

 

Wrong messages from the National Audit Office

 

The National Audit Office (NAO) has recently published its report for 2017. In a democracy, the role of the NAO is of paramount importance. Its role of ascertaining the presence (or absence) of good governance at all levels is crucial in determining the health of the public sector.

The report lists the investigations carried out during 2017 in respect of which separate reports have been published and discussed publicly. These include the annual report on the public accounts, the consolidated annual report on local government, special audits and investigations and performance audits. Last year also saw the publication of a stand-alone report on the results achieved by the three main revenue-generating departments of the government, namely the Inland Revenue Department, the Value Added Tax Department and the Department of Customs.

In his overview, Auditor General Charles Deguara welcomes the positive developments, highlighting the administration’s commitment to implementing the NAO’s recommendations as far as possible. This has been done for two consecutive years and it is to be hoped that it becomes an annual occurrence.

The report explains the efforts made to continuously train the staff, thereby ensuring that, as far as possible, an internal team of experts is available to monitor and investigate as required. This is essential in order that the NAO keeps the administration on its toes.

The NAO, in its present format, was set up 20 years ago. Since 1997, it has been part of Parliament, accountable directly to Parliament. Previously, although technically independent it formed part of the Ministry of Finance.

During the past 20 years, it has had much to do. Its specific investigations are the ones about which we hear the most but the workings of the NAO go much deeper. Its continuous examination of the country’s public accounts, and the recommendations made to fine tune or correct methods of operation are always work in progress.

In order for the NAO to be as effective as possible, it should ensure that it keeps at arm’s length from the administration’s day to day operations. For this reason I was worried when reading in the 2017 report a short list of a number of domestic working groups in which the NAO participated. These range from the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) Implementation Project Board, the Financial Legislation Working Group, the Local Government Good Governance Working Group and others. The NAO should have oversight and not sit around the same table forming part of working groups to implement or draft a proposal for implementation.

Some years back the Auditor-General, together with the Ombudsman and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, had decided to go beyond their terms of remit and accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to examine the issue of the salaries of MPs and holders of political office. I had taken the Ombudsman Said Pullicino to task about his stand when, together with Arnold Cassola I had met the trio. They then justified their stand by referring to legal advice from the Attorney General’s office and others! The three wise men did not realise that they had compromised their office because they cannot – and should not – switch from being regulators to being advisors, even if temporarily.

The NAO would do well to take a step back, thereby ensuring that it is at arm’s length from the administration. Otherwise it risks sending the wrong messages.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 29 April 2018

L-IVF mhux kapriċċ: (6) Il-medjazzjoni tal-President tar-Repubblika

L-offerta tal-President tar-Repubblika Marie Louise Coleiro-Preca li timmedja mhux ta’ min jinjoraha. Il-President ġustament triq diskussjoni serja li tirrispetta s-serjetá tas-suġġett. Trid brejk fuq l-għaġġla li għandu l-Gvern.

Il-punt tat-tluq għandu jkun il-pluraliżmu etiku. Għandna nirrispettaw l-ideat u l-idejali ta’ xulxin kif manifestati f’valuri li jikkuntrastaw sostanzjalment.

Id-diffikultá li qed timmanifesta ruħha fid-diskussjoni pubblika kurrenti hi l-insulti gravi u l-bombastiċitá fl-argumentazzjoni. Bħal meta t-Tabib Godfrey Farrugia ddeskriva l-emendi għal-liġi tal-IVF bħala l-bidu ta’ ġenoċidju.

Il-medjazzjoni tal-President trid twassal biex kulħadd jirrealizza li qegħdin fis-seklu 21 !