Sa fl-aħħar

Standards in Public Life Bill

 

Mela fl-aħħar, il-lejla, l-Parlament ta’ Malta għandu fuq l-aġenda bħala l-ewwel item l-abbozz ta’ liġi li jirregola l-imġieba fil-ħajja pubblika. Wara li dan l-abbozz ilu lest iktar minn sentejn hu ġustifikat li ngħidu “about time”. Jew forsi “aħjar tard milli qatt”!

Ir-rapport finali tal-Kumitat Magħżul kien ippreżentat lill-Parlament nhar l-24 ta’ Marzu 2014. Xahrejn wara, nhar l-20 ta’ Mejju, l-abbozz ta’ Liġi imsejjaħ Att tal-2014 dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ingħata l-ewwel qari fil-Parlament. Wara, nhar il-15 ta’ Lulju 2014 kien ippubblikat fil-Gazzetta tal-Gvern u tqiegħed fuq l-agenda tal-Parlament fejn għandu hemm sal-lum!

L-abbozz ta’ liġi jfittex li joħloq l-istrutturi meħtieġa biex ikun possibli li jkunu investigati imġieba li ma tkunx kompatibbli mal-liġi inkella man-normi etiċi minn persuni fil-ħajja pubblika. Il-moniteraġġ ser ikun vestit f’kumitat parlamentari permanenti kif ukoll f’Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika li jinħatar bl-approvazzjoni ta’ żewġ terzi tal-voti tal-membri parlamentari.

Il-leġislazzjoni proposta ser tapplika għal żewġ kategoriji ta’ persuni fil-ħajja pubblika: il-Membri Parlamentari (inkluż il-Ministri, s-Segretarji Parlamentari u l-Assistenti Parlamentari) kif ukoll dawk impjegati fis-settur pubbliku minħabba li jgawdu l-fiduċja tal-politiċi, dawk li ħafna drabi nirreferu għalihom bħala li qegħdin “in a position of trust”.

L-abbozz jinkludi edizzjoni aġġornata tal-Kodiċi tal-Etika applikabbli għall-membri parlamentari kif ukoll għall-Kodiċi l-ieħor applikabbli għall-membri tal-Kabinett imma ma jinkludix il-Kodiċi tal-Etika applikabbli għad-Diretturi maħtura fuq awtoritajiet, korporazzjonijiet jew korpi parastatali li kien oriġinalment ippubblikat madwar ħamsa u għoxrin sena ilu. L-abbozz l-anqas ma jgħidilna dawn il-persuni ta’ fiduċja kif ser ikunu regolati!

Il-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ser ikun jista’ jinvestiga allegazzjonijiet dwar imġieba mhux etika kif ukoll dwar il-veraċità tad-dikjarazzjonijiet tad-dħul u l-assi li jagħmlu l-Membri Parlamentari, u l-membri tal-Kabinetti jew dawk impjegati f’posizzjoni ta’ fiduċja u dan skond kif jistabilixxu l-Kodiċi tal-Etika inkella r-regoli li jsiru taħt l-Att dwar l-Amministrazzjoni Pubblika.

Għalkemm l-abbozz huwa avvanz fuq il-qagħda attwali xorta hemm ħtieġa ta’ titjib sostanzjali fil-proposti li fih l-abbozz. Fosthom huwa neċessarju li jidħlu għall-ewwel darba miżuri li jirregolaw il-lobbying illi jsir tal-politici f’laqghat kemm formali kif ukoll informali. Regolamentazzjoni illi tista’ issir b’diversi modi.

Imma l-abbozz jinjora l-lobbying kompletament u ma jippruvax jirregolah.

Huwa essenzjali li issa l-Parlament ma jkaxkarx saqajh u li l-abbozz ikun approvat b’emendi fl-iqsar zmien possibli.

Kien hemm diversi kazi u ċirkustanzi matul dawn l-aħħar sentejn li setgħu jkunu investigati kieku liġi ta’ din ix-xorta kienet teżisti. Huwa għalhekk essenzjali illi l-abbozz ikun imtejjeb u approvat u li fl-qasir żmien jinħatar il-Kummissarju ghall-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Għandu jkun emfasizzat li l- Kummissarju għall-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika għandu l-inkarigu li jinvestiga mhux biss l-imġieba tal-Membri Parlamentari u l-Ministri imma ukoll, kif jipproponi l-istess abbozz, l-imġieba tal-persuni ta’ fiduċja li nħatru mill-amministrazzjoni. Huwa mehtieg li anke dawn jirrealizzaw illi anke huma jeħtieġ li jagħtu kont ta’ egħmilhom.

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Il-Gvern iżomm l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ……………fuq l-ixkaffa

Standards signaturesStandards in Public Life Bill

 

Fl-24 ta’ Marzu 2014 Kumitat Magħżul tal-Parlament Malti ippreżenta lill-Parlament rapport finali dwar l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Dan ir-rapport kien iffirmat mill-iSpeaker Anglu Farrugia u minn erba’ membri Parlamentari : George Vella, Justyne Caruana, Francis Zammit Dimech u Ryan Callus.

Fl-20 ta’ Mejju 2014 il-Parlament approva l-Ewwel Qari ta’ Abbozz ta’ Liġi imsejjaħ Att ta’ l-2014 dwar l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. L-approvazzjoni ta’ l-Ewwel Qari jfisser li l-Parlament ikun ta’ l-permess biex l-abbozz ta’ liġi ikun ippubblikat.

Fil-fatt l-abbozz ta’ liġi kien ippubblikat fil-Gazzetta tal-Gvern bħala l-abbozz numru 63 nhar il-15 ta’ Lulju 2014.

Illum għaddew sittax-il xahar, u dan l-abbozz ta’ liġi għadu fuq l-ixkaffa jiġbor it-trab.

Tafu għalfejn hu importanti dan l-abbozz ta’ liġi?

Fost ohrajn għax jekk Membru tal-Parlament [inkluz Ministru] ma josservax il-Kodiċi tal-Etika jkunu jistgħu jittieħdu passi kontra tiegħu. Per eżempju,  l-Ministru għandu l-obbligu li ma jaċċettax rigali jew servizzi jekk “l-entità tagħhom tkun tali li jistgħu jpoġġuh f’obbligazzjoni, kemm jekk din tkun reali kif ukoll jekk tidher li tista’ tkun.” (regola 58 tal-Kodiċi tal-Etika tal-Ministri)

Kien ikun ħafna aħjar kieku l-Parlament, flok ma qagħad ikaxkar saqajh approva dan l-abbozz ta’ liġi xhur ilu.

Kieku, forsi, l-Onorevoli Joseph Cassar kien ikollu jwieġeb għal għemilu fil-Kumitat Parlamentari Permanenti dwar l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika.

Inutli li l-Membri Parlamentari fuq in-naħa tal-Gvern jgħidu li r-riżenja ta’ Cassar minn spokesman tal-Opposizzjoni dwar il-Kultura hi miżura insinifikanti. Kellhom f’idejhom miżura alternattiva b’saħħitha u ħallewha fuq l-ixkaffa. Kullma għandhom jagħmlu issa hu li jħarsu fil-mera u jgħidu: ħtija tiegħi.

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

Bejn Franco Mercieca u Chris Fearne

doctor

Illum huwa ċar għal kulħadd li l-oftalmologu Għawdxi Dr Franco Mercieca għamel għażla ċara. Bejn il-professjoni u servizz fil-Kabinett għażel li jmur lura għall-prattika professjonali tiegħu. Kif wara kollox kellu kull dritt li jagħmel, sakemm ma kienx hemm min għal xi żmien ħajru li seta jagħmilhom it-tnejn (jiġifieri l-prattika tal-oftalmoloġija u servizz fil-Kabinett).

Wara sena ta’ battibekki u taparsi eżenzjonijiet is-sens komun jidher li rebaħ.

Jiena u nikteb dan il-blogpost it-Times online irreferiet għall-kirurgu tal-pedjatrija Dr Chris Fearne li għadu kif inħatar Segretarju Parlamentari għas-Saħħa. Ġie kjarifikat li Dr Chris Fearne mhux ser jibqa’ jipprattika, l-anqas fl-isptar bla ħlas, ħlief għal 4 każijiet akuti ta’ pazjenti li kien qed jieħu ħsiebhom meta ħa l-ħatra.

Deċiżjoni tajba li tfisser illi d-dibattitu pubbliku dwar Dr Franco Mercieca ma sarx għal xejn. Tnaqqas il-potenzjal għall-konflitt ta’ interess. Ir-raġuni dejjem tirbaħ!

Prosit.

L-ewwel reshuffle ta’ Joseph

 

 

reshuffle

Tħabbar iċ-ċaqlieq u t-tibdil fil-Kabinett.

Fost dawk effettwati miċ-ċaqlieq hemm min matul l-aħħar sena, min għal ftit żmien u min għal ħafna, kellu diffikulta u konflitt bejn il-prattika professjonali u r-responsabbiltajiet pubbliċi tiegħu. Fuq quddiem nett kien hemm il-każ ta’ Franco Mercieca li kif stqarr huwa stess jippreferi l-prattika professjonali tiegħu. Il-kwistjoni issa ser tiġi fi tmiemha. Imma jonqos li naraw ukoll x’tibdil ser ikun hemm fil-kodiċi tal-etika tal-Ministri w is-Segretarji Parlamentari.

Hemm ukoll issues serji konnessi mal-ħatra ta’ Marie Louise Coleiro Preca bħala President tar-Repubblika. Hu żball oħxon li l-President iżżomm responsabbiltajiet diretti għal oqsma ta’ politika soċjali. Il-President għandha tkun distakkata minn dawn l-affarijiet. Bla dubju ser ikun hemm konflitt bejn kif tara l-affarijiet hi u kif jarahom il-Ministru l-ġdid għall-politika soċjali, Michael Farrugia.

Il-ħatra ta’ Karmenu Vella bħala Kummissarju Ewropew hi ukoll sorpriża. Karmenu Vella qatt ma kien interessat u qatt ma wera xi inklinazzjoni lejn politika Ewropeja. Għallinqas pubblikament dan m’huwiex magħruf. Huwa kmieni biex wieħed jgħid jekk hiex għażla tajba. Ser jiddependi ukoll mir-responsabbiltajiet li l-President il-ġdid tal-Kummissjoni jassenjalu. Dan il-President jista’ jkun Martin Schultz imma jista’ jkun ħaddieħor ukoll! Iċ-ċaqlieq fil-previżjoni tan-numru tas-siġġijiet li jistgħu jirbħu s-Soċjalisti fil-Parlament Ewropew jindika li Muscat għaġġel fin-nomina ta’ Karmenu Vella. Kien ikun iktar għaqli li stenna madwar xahrejn oħra qabel ma ħa din id-deċiżjoni.

Il-Ministri u l-Kodiċi ta’ Etika tagħhom

code-in-ethics

Nitbissem meta nisma’ il-PN jitkellem dwar il-Kodiċi tal-Etika tal-Ministri u d-deċiżjoni ta’ Joseph Muscat dwar Franco Mercieca.

Nifhem li mhux deċiżjoni faċli la għal Joseph Muscat u l-anqas għal Franco Mercieca. Hi deċiżjoni li għal perjodu ta’ transizzjoni tista’ tkun ġustifikata imma b’mod permanenti ma naħsibx li tkun korretta.

Il-kritika tal-PN dwar il-mod kif qed ikun “injorat” il-Kodiċi tal-Etika tal-Ministri kont neħodha bis-serjeta’ li kieku l-Gvern immexxi minn Lawrence Gonzi applika dan il-Kodiċi sewwa. Per eżempju għalfejn Lawrence Gonzi ma sab l-ebda diffikulta li jħalli lil Tonio Fenech dakinnhar Ministru isiefer biex jara logħba tal-Arsenal fuq jet privat (bla ħlas) ma’ nies tal-business meta skond il-Kodiċi tal-Etika dan ma setax iseħħ?

Waqt il-kampanja elettorali kienu qalulna li Tonio Fenech kien skuża ruħu u li l-każ kien magħluq.

Din is-serjeta’ tal-PN!

Appreciating Tonio Fenech, and the Ministers’ Code of Ethics

Arlogg tal lira 2

We have been told by the Hon Tonio Fenech that a certain Mrs Farrugia, wife of Raymond and sister-in-law to George Farrugia of Trafigura fame so admired him (Tonio Fenech) that she wanted to give hima token of appreciation. The token, consisting of an artisanal clock (arloġġ tal-lira).
The value of this artisanal clock is disputed but it seems that the trafigura agent is putting it at €5,000.
Now this is very interesting as Ministers are bound by a Code of Ethics which in paragraph 58 thereof states :
“58. No Minister should accept gifts or services such as might be deemed to create an obligation, real or imaginary. The same rule applies to the spouse of a Minister and to his minor children. The same rules that apply to gifts from representatives of other Governments are applicable in these cases as well.”

When the Hon Minister Tonio Fenech had accepted a free flight to watch an Arsenal game he realised sometime after that he had made a mistake and apologised (instead of resigning).
What now?

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (22) Sign Language

sign language

The following extracts are taken verbatim from Chapter 9 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

Every public broadcasting station also has obligations towards persons with disability. In this regard, every Maltese station should respect persons with disability in the way it speaks about them and to represent them according to a code of ethics on the subject. Every station should transmit programmes such as news broadcasts using sign language. Where possible, films and documentaries should be shown using sub-titles.

Maltese sign language should be recognised by Government as an official language. Sign language interpreters should increase. The state should ensure that sign language interpretation is main streamed in the public sector. Public procurement should always include a disability dimension.

L-Estratti segwenti huma meħuda kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 9 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Kull stazzjon ta’ xandir pubbliku għandu wkoll obbligi lejn persuni b’diżabilità. Għaldaqstant kull stazzjon Malti għandu jirrispetta l-persuni b’ diżabiltà bil-mod kif jitkellem dwarhom u jirrappreżentahom permezz ta’ kodici ta’ etika dwar dan is-suġġett. Kull stazzjon għandu wkoll jittrażmetti programmi bħall-aħbarijiet permezz tal-lingwa tas-sinjali. Fejn hu possibbli, films u dokumentarji għandhom jintwerew bis-sottotitli wkoll.

Il-lingwa tas-sinjali bil-Malti għandha tiġi rikonoxxuta mill-Gvern bħala lingwa ufficjali. Għandhom jiżdiedu l-interpreti tal-lingwa tas-sinjali. L-istat għandu jiżgura li l-interpretazzjoni tal-lingwa tas-sinjali tiġi inkluża bis-sħiħ fis-settur pubbliku. L-akkwist pubbliku irid dejjem ikollu dimensjoni ta’ diżabilità.