Min ħallas il-pagi tal-PN ?

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Il-Kumpanija ta Silvio Debono qed tgħid li l-Partit Nazzjonalista talab li tagħti donazzjoni biex ikunu koperti s-salarji tas-Segretarju Ġenerali u tas-CEO tal-Partit.

Issa fil-passat riċenti konna smajna jingħad dwar kemm huma is-salarji ta dawn iżżewġ uffiċjali. Madwar 60,000 (sittin elef euro) fis-sena r-ras.

Issa jkun interessanti jekk huwiex veru jew le li ngħataw dawn id-donazzjonijiet. Għax fkaz li hu veru hemm problema kbira. Partit politiku ma jistax jirċievi donazzjoni ta iktar minn 25,000 (ħamsa u għoxrin elf euro) fis-sena mill-istess sors u dan skond il-paragrafu (e) tal-artiklu 34 tal-Att dwar il-Finanzjament tal-Partiti Politiċi.

Xinhu jiġri?

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(Att dwar il-Finanzjament tal-Partiti Politiċi : parti mill-artiklu 34)

 

 

 

 

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Il-Palazz tal-Girgenti: bejn Gvern u Partit

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Meta nhar it-Tlieta li għadda, jiena u Arnold Cassola iltqajna mas-Sur Joseph Church, il-Kummissarju Elettorali Ewlieni, tkellimna miegħu dwar il-Palazz tal-Girgenti u l-fatt li l-Grupp Parlamentari tal-Partit Laburista għamel użu minnu biex iltaqa hemm.

Għal uħud Alternattiva Demokratika qed tfettaq u tgħaġġibha. Jiena ma naħsibx li dan hu l-każ għax hemm prinċipju importanti ħafna fin-nofs: fejn hi l-linja li tissepara l-partit mill-gvern? Issa jiena konxju li hemm min mhuwiex interessat fil-prinċipji, għax għal uħud, dawn huma burokrazija żejda!

Għandu jkun hemm separazzjoni bejn il-Gvern u l-partit politku li jiffurmah, jew inkella dawn għandhom ikunu ħaġa waħda, jew kważi?  Din hi l-qalba tal-kwistjoni kollha li fil-fehma ta Alternattiva Demokratika teħtieġ li tkun ikkunsidrata battenzjoni kbira.

Il-liġi li tirregola l-finanzjament tal-partiti saret biex ikun hemm trasparenza. Saret ukoll biex tiġbed linja ċara dwar dak li jista jsir u dak li ma jistax isir, u dan permezz ta numru ta kontrolli.

Fost affarijiet oħra, l-Att tal-2015 dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi, fl-artiklu 34 tiegħu jgħid li partit politiku ma jistax jaċċetta donazzjoni minn sorsi tal-istat. Mhemmx kif u għaliex, iżda xejn, bla argumenti jew eċċezzjonijiet.

Issa donazzjoni għal-liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi ma tfissirx biss li partit ikun irċieva għotja ta flus. Għax anke jekk jixtri jew jirċievi prodott jew servizz bi prezz ridott, partit politiku jkun qiegħed jirċievi donazzjoni, u l-valur tad-donazzjoni, fdan il-kaz tkun l-ammont li jkun tnaqqas mill-prezz jew mill-valur tal-oġġett jew servizz. Imma jekk partit politiku jirċievi prodott jew servizz bla ma jħallas xejn għalih ikun qiegħed jirċievi donazzjoni li tikkonsisti fil-valur sħiħ tal-oġġett jew servizz li jkun qed jirċievi.

Fil-kaz tal-laqgħa tal-Grupp Parlamentari tal-Partit Laburista li saret fil-Girgenti ġara preċiżament hekk. Il-Grupp Parlamentari tal-Partit Laburista ingħata servizz li kien jikkonsisti fl-użu tal-Palazz tal-Inkwiżitur fil-Girgenti biex fih jiltaqgħu, il-bogħod mill-istorbju, u allura biex il-ħidma tagħhom setgħet tagħti l-frott ippjanat. Dan is-servizz ingħata lill-Partit Laburista mill-uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru u dan ingħata bla ħlas. Minħabba li ngħata bla ħlas jitqies li huwa donazzjoni.

Il-Prim Ministru ma għandu l-ebda seta’ jagħmel donazzjonijiet ta din ix-xorta. Huwa miżmum milli jagħmel dan minn liġi li ippreżenta l-Gvern immexxi minnu stess fil-Parlament u li daħlet fis-seħħ fl-1 ta Jannar 2016 wara li ġiet approvata. Hemm min qed jargumenta li fil-passat sar l-istess. Probabbilment li dan huwa veru. Imma issa għandna liġi eżattament biex dan ma jerġax isir. Liġi li l-Gvern (ġustament) jiftaħar biha, ħalli mbagħad ikun hu stess li ma josservahiex!

Mhiex ħaġa sabiħa li l-partit u l-Gvern ikunu ħaġa waħda. Meta dan iseħħ, l-anqas ma hu sinjal tajjeb. Ikun ifisser li wasalna fsitwazzjoni li fiha dak li hu tal-pajjiż ikun ikkapparrat mill-ftit. Hekk jibdew il-problemi l-kbar. Jibdew minn affarijiet żgħar li dwarhom jgħidulek biex ma tfettaqx imma imbagħad jinfirxu għal affarijiet ikbar.

Imma jekk ma tkunx tajt kaz fl-affarijiet iżżgħar imbagħad ikun tard wisq.

II-partit fil-Gvern jifforma l-Gvern imma hu separat u distint minnu fkull ħin.

Għalhekk għandha taġixxi malajr il-Kummissjoni Elettorali għax is-separazzjoni bejn il-partit u l-istat hu prinċipju sagrosant meta demokrazija parlamentari tkun bsaħħitha.

ippubblikat fuq Illum: Il-Ħadd 26 ta’ Frar 2017

Joseph tweets a selfie from Girgenti

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A week ago, during a short break from a very “fruitful” meeting of the Labour Party Parliamentary Group, Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister, tweeted a selfie. The selfie included a number of hangers-on who promptly re-tweeted Joseph’s selfie, announcing to one and all that the Labour Party Parliamentary Group was meeting at Girgenti, the Prime Minister’s official residence in the countryside.

In the tweeted selfie, standing in the front row, perched between Planning Parliamentary Secretary Deborah Schembri and Civil Rights Minister Helena Dalli stands Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, the Cabinet member who around 18 months ago piloted the Financing of Political Parties Act through Parliament  Throughout the past months, the Honourable Owen Bonnici rightly proclaimed this as a milestone. How come his own government and his own political party ignored the implementation of this milestone?

It seems that Joseph, the tweeter from Girgenti, was either not properly advised of the implications of this landmark  legislation or else ignored completely the advice he received.

On Tuesday I visited the offices of the Electoral Commission and met Joseph Church, the Chief Electoral Commissioner. Together with my colleague Arnold Cassola, I drew the attention of Mr Church to the fact that the Parliamentary Labour Party was making use of government property contrary to the provisions of the Financing of Political Parties Act. On behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party in Malta, we requested that Joseph Muscat and his Labour Party be investigated for acting against the provisions of the landmark legislation: Joseph Muscat for permitting the use of the Girgenti Palace and the Labour Party for accepting to use it as a venue for one of the meetings of its Parliamentary Group.

As I have already explained during a Press Conference held after the meeting with the Chief Electoral Commissioner, as well as in the daily edition of this newspaper [Girgenti: demarcation line between party and state. TMI 23 February] the use of the Girgenti Palace is deemed to be a donation, which in terms of article 34 of the Financing of Political Parties Act is not permissible to be received by a political party from the state. Joseph Muscat the Prime Minister could not grant such a donation, and Joseph Muscat the Leader of the Labour Party could not accept it.

Unfortunately, this incident communicated by tweet sends a very clear and negative message: that Joseph Muscat and his Labour Party consider themselves to be above the law. The law which they rightly described as being a “landmark legislation” was intended to apply to one and all.  Joseph Muscat and his Labour Party seem to think otherwise. In fact, the Labour Party is not even yet registered as a political party as the Electoral Commission, some months back, considered that it does not satisfy the conditions laid down in the legislation.

Some may consider that Alternattiva Demokratika is splitting hairs when raising the matter. I beg to differ, as a very basic principle is at stake: the demarcation line separating the government from the governing political party. This is what lies at the core of the complaint submitted by the Greens to the Chief Electoral Commissioner for an investigation in terms of the provisions of the Financing of Political Parties Act.

I am informed that the Electoral Commission will be meeting next Wednesday when it is expected to consider the request to investigate Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his political party for ignoring the provisions of the Financing of Political Parties Act.  It is the moment of truth for the Electoral Commission. Eight out of nine of its members are political appointees: four nominated by the Prime Minister and another four nominated by the Leader of the Opposition. The ninth member of the Commission is the chairman, a senior civil servant.

It is time for all nine members of the Electoral Commission to stand up and be counted. As a constitutional body, it is the Commission’s duty to defend the values of a modern day parliamentary democracy. Whether it will do so is anybody’s guess. I will definitely not hold my breath.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 26 February 2017

Girgenti: demarcation line between party and state

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Meeting the Chief Electoral Commissioner Mr Joseph Church last Tuesday, together with Arnold Cassola, I raised the issue of the use of the Inquisitor’s Palace at Girgenti by the Labour Party Parliamentary Group for one of its meetings.  Some may consider that Alternattiva Demokratika is splitting hairs when raising the matter. I beg to differ as a basic principle is at stake: the demarcation line separating government from the governing party.

To what extent should the affairs of the government be administered separately from those of the governing party? This is what lies at the core of the complaint submitted by the Greens to the Chief Electoral Commissioner for investigation in terms of the provisions of the Financing of Political Parties Act.

The Act to regulate the financing of political parties was introduced to ensure that party financing was subject to transparency rules. It also establishes no-go areas. Amongst other matters the 2015 legislation provides in its article 34  that political parties should not accept donations from the state. There are no exceptions to this rule.

In terms of the Financing of Political Parties Act, a donation is not just pecuniary in nature. Whenever a political party purchases a product or a service at a reduced price it would be in receipt of a donation. The quantum of the donation would be equivalent to the reduction in price of the product or service received.  On the other hand if a political party acquires a product or a service without paying its commercial price, then, the value of the donation received amounts to the full price of the said product or service.

This is exactly what happened when the Labour Party Parliamentary Group made use of the Prime Minister’s official residence at the Girgenti Inquisitor’s Palace. The Parliamentary Group received the service of a meeting place without payment. Hence its being considered as a donation.

The Prime Minister does not have the authority to make such donations. His actions in this respect are restricted by law which was presented and approved in Parliament by the government he leads and entered in force as on 1 January 2016.  Some have argued that this is not the first time that such meetings were so organised. This may be so. It is precisely for this purpose that the legislation was enacted in order to prevent its reoccurrence. One should not propose such legislation and then be the first to ignore it!

Government and the governing political party should be separate and distinct. When such distinction is not clear, even in the case of minor matters, this would be a very bad indication. It would signal that the resources of the state are not being managed appropriately. It would be wrong to ignore such signals indicating the existence of minor problems as these will, if ignored, subsequently spread to more substantial matters. It would then be too late to act.

The party in Government forms the Government of the day but should be separate and distinct from it at all times.

Hence the need for the Electoral Commission to act immediately. The separation between government and the governing political party is a basic principle in a healthy democracy.

published in The Malta Independent : Thursday 23 February 2017

Mill-Bank of Vassallo għaċ-ċedoli 2016

Bank of Vassallo

Qabel l-elezzjoni ġenerali li għaddiet il-Partit Nazzjonalista kien issellef kwart ta’ miljun euro mingħand Żaren Vassallo. Dakinnhar kien intqal li dak is-self kien ta’ natura kummerċjali. Ma kien ippubblikat xejn u allura xejn m’hu magħruf dwar dan is-self: la l-kundizzjonijiet u l-anqas jekk tħallasx lura, inkella jekk inħafirx.

Din hi informazzjoni li l-Partit Nazzjonalista għandu l-obbligu morali li jagħti.

Issa l-PN beda skema ta’ self imsejħa ċedoli 2016 li permezz tagħha numru ta’ persuni jsellfu €10,000 (r-ras) għal għaxar snin u ta’ dan jitħallsu imgħax ta’4% fis-sena.

Il-liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi li daħlet fis-seħħ fl-1 ta’ Jannar li għadda tirregola s-self li jagħmlu l-partiti politiċi b‘mod limitat. Dan tagħmlu billi jekk fost il-kundizzjonijiet tas-self ikun hemm kundizzjonijiet favorevoli, il-vantaġġi li jakkwista l-partit jitqiesu bħala donazzjoni, u  allura jkunu regolati skond ir-regoli tad-donazzjonijiet. L-ammonti ta’ interessi huma żgħar (€400 kull ċedola fis-sena) u l-vantaġġi minn kull ċedola li jistgħu jitqiesu bħala donazzjoni huma għaldaqstant ferm żgħar. Dan meta tqabblu mal-ammont ta’ €7,000 fis-sena li hu l-ammont li jekk jinqabeż bħala donazzjoni (minn persuna waħda f’sena) jkun meħtieġ li jkun dikjarat (anke l-isem tal-persuna li tagħmel id-donazzjoni tkun ippubblikata).

Il-mistoqsijiet li qed isiru huma diversi. Fosthom hemm mistoqsija dwar jekk il-lista tal-ismijiet ta’ dawk li ser isellfu lill-PN hiex ser tkun ippubblikata. Il-liġi li approva l-Parlament fl-2015 ma toħloqx dan l-obbligu. Imma huwa ċar li l-lista ma tistax tkun sigrieta. L-awdituri tal-PN ser jagħmlu l-verifiki tagħhom. Biex jagħmlu dawn il-verifiki jkun meħtieġ  li jeżaminaw id-dokumentazzjoni dwar iċ-ċedoli. L-istess jistgħu jagħmlu l-awdituri tal-Kummissjoni Elettorali li ukoll għandhom l-awtorità li jagħmlu l-verifika jekk ikun hemm ħtieġa għal dan.

Dan naħseb li mhux biżżejjed u jkun għaqli li l-liġi tkun emendata biex dawn it-tip ta’ skemi ta’ self ikunu trasparenti. B’żieda ma dan,  l-obbligu li l-flus jintraddu lura għandu jkun garantit, preferibilment b’insurance. Dejjem sakemm ma jkunux garantiti mill-Bank of Vassallo.