Fil-BOV bil-benefiċċju tal- “early retirement”, iżda tista’ tiġi lura !

BOV HQ

 

Il-Bank of Valletta qiegħed fl-aħbarijiet. M’humiex aħbarijiet li jagħmlu l-ġid  lill-bank.

Mhux qed nitkellem dwar il-garanzija għas-self dwar il-power station ta’ Delimara, jew il-garanzija għall-avvanzi biex l-Air Malta tixtri l-fuel, iżda dwar l-iskema ta’ irtirar kmieni.

Kif, qrajna, l-ftehim kollettiv tal-Bank jagħti dritt lill-bank li jkollu skema ta’ irtirar kmieni mix-xogħol (early retirement). Il-punt mhux jekk Michael Falzon ġiex mogħti inqas jew iktar minn Fenech Adami inkella xi ħaddieħor b’kunjomu Borg Costanzi (ismijiet li ssemmew fil-Parlament). Iżda jekk skema ta’ irtirar kmieni fil-BOV tagħmilx sens.

Hemm xi sens li tħarreġ lin-nies u fl-eta ta’ madwar ħamsin sena tħallashom biex jitilqu? Il-bank qed iberbaq il-“kapital uman” tiegħu apparti l-kapital finanzjarju.  Dan apparti li għadni ma nistax nifhem kif tieħu l-benefiċċju minn skema biex tirtira kmieni u mbagħad iżżomm id-dritt li tidħol lura. Jew irtirajt kmieni jew ma irtirajtx.

Il-BOV qed iberbaq ir-riżorsi u jista’ juża’ flus il-bank ferm aħjar minn hekk, mhux biss fl-interess tal-bank innifsu iżda anke fl-interess tal-impjegati tiegħu.

Anke l-Greċja, sa ftit ilu, kinet mimlija skemi ta’ irtirar kmieni!

 

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Ftit melħ għal Michael Falzon

salt

Waqt li Michael Falzon il-Perit għadu jhewden bil-ġobon tat-toqba u l-kontijiet bankarji fl-Iżvizzera, Michael Falzon is-Segretarju Parlamentari kellimna dwar il-melħ.

Qalilna li għandu rispett lejn l-għaqdiet ambjentali ġenwini. Dwar l-oħrajn qalilna li jeħodhom “with a pinch of salt”.

Id-diffikultà li nara jiena f’uħud mill-għaqdiet ambjentali hi li hemm bosta minnhom li illum il-ġurnata jiddependu minn awtoritajiet pubbliċi biex ikunu iffinanzjati uħud mill-proġetti tagħhom. M’hiex xi ħaġa li bdiet illum, imma osservajt minn xi żmien ilu (ankè qabel l-2013) li hemm uħud li waqgħu fil-muta.

Issa interessanti ħafna dwar kif Falzon jagħraf lil dawk li huma ġenwini minn dawk li m’humiex. Ma nafx jekk Falzon ikejjilx il-ġenwinità minn kemm jaqblu miegħu jew mal-Gvern tiegħu, jew minn kemm jinċensaw il-Gvern jew le.

Għax trid tkun nieqes mill-melħ biex titkellem b’dan il-mod.

Political responsibility

 

Mallia inquiry

Good governance is clearly going to the dogs. It is not just a case of matters that could have been handled better, as Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated in the aftermath of the Cafè Premier scandal.

In February 2015 the National Audit Office had underlined notable shortcomings in terms of governance with respect to Joseph Muscat’s government’s failure to involve the Government Property Division in the negotiations to re-acquire Cafè Premier in Valletta.

The purpose of holding inquires, irrespective of their format, is not just to identify those responsible for shortcomings relative to matters under investigation. High on the list of objectives of inquires is the identification and subsequent doing away with administrative practices which are liable to be abused.

The Manwel Mallia inquiry, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister in terms of the Inquires Act, was handled by three former judges and focused on the behaviour of the then Honourable Minister Manwel Mallia. It is pertinent to point out that in their report dated 8 December 2014, the three judges had emphasised that Manwel Mallia had to shoulder ministerial or political responsibility in respect of the behaviour of those persons who he had nominated to a position of trust. Tongue-in-cheek, the panel of judges carrying out the Mallia inquiry had commented that Maltese politicians, when in Opposition, emphasise the need to shoulder political responsibility only to forget all about it when they make it to government.

In fact, in view of the conclusions of that inquiry, former Minister Manwel Mallia, in defiance of the basic rules of good governance, refused to resign from office and was subsequently fired by the Prime Minister – who had no other option at his disposal.

The current Gaffarena scandal may lead to similar considerations. Two politicians are under the spotlight: Joseph Muscat, who, in addition to being Prime Minister is also Minister for Lands, and Michael Falzon, who is the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Lands. Both have to shoulder political responsibility for the operation of the Government Property Division for which they are jointly politically responsible. Twenty seven months into Labour’s mandate it is not justifiable that they shift the blame onto their predecessors. Labour in government has had sufficient time to carry out basic operational changes, if they considered that these were necessary.

Two inquires are under way. One has been requested by the Opposition and is being carried out by the National Audit Office. The other has been requested by the government and is being carried out by the Internal Audit and Investigation Department.

The two inquires will necessarily overlap but, due to differing terms of reference they should be complimenting each other.

There are too many coincidences in this latest Gaffarena scandal and consequently various issues need to be explained. The Government Property Division seems to have preferred Marco Gaffarena, giving him time to purchase a second portion of the Valletta property before expropriating it, when it could have easily expropriated it directly from the then owners! Likewise, it is clear that someone took the decision to pay Marco Gaffarena partly in kind, by allowing him to select amongst government property that land which suited him most. Who took this decision?  The civil service does not normally take such decisions. This particular decision, in my view, has political fingerprints.

The values attributed to both the expropriated property and to the government properties used to facilitate payment have raised eyebrows. Detailed explanation is required to establish whether there is some computational error or whether there is some other explanation.

Throughout the past week, the press has pointed at a particular member of the private secretariat of Parliamentary Secretary Michael Falzon who, too often, was observed accompanying Marco Gaffarena at the Government Property Division. This person, appointed in a position of trust by the Honourable Michael Falzon, did not reply to questions from the press intended to clarify whether – and to what extent – he opened doors for Gaffarena. In particular, the queries sought to clarify whether he facilitated the pick and choose land deal between the Government Property Division and Marco Gaffarena.

The conclusions of the two investigations should undoubtedly shed light on the decisions taken, as well as on those who facilitated them. The fact that this is the second case concerning the Government Property Division being investigated by the National Audit Office in the space of a few months should ring the alarm bells because, essentially, it signifies that no lessons were learnt from the Cafè Premier debacle.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 14 June 2015

Is the abrogative referendum under threat ?

article 14. Referenda Act

 

Until Alternattiva Demokratika announced the abrogative referendum campaign  on spring hunting almost two years ago, few Maltese citizens were aware that they had such a right.  Now that this right has been used for the first time since it has been placed on the statute book, it is apparently under threat.

The hunters’ lobby is now aiming at curtailing the right to an abrogative referendum. The hunters maintain that when the Referenda Act was applied in trying to abrogate the regulations permitting spring hunting it was aiming at their rights – “minority rights” they said.

Hunters had presented these same arguments though their representatives for the consideration of the Constitutional Court, which shot them down last January. In fact the Constitutional Court in paragraphs 51 to 54 of its 24-page decision, considers this very point. The hunters, said the Constitutional Court, claim that their rights are minority rights. However no potential breach of a provision of the Constitution of Malta or of the European Convention of Human Rights have been indicated in their submissions. The Constitutional Court goes on to say the following :

“It is right to emphasise that in implementing majority rule the rights of the minority should be respected. However this respect is not attained, as suggested by the Federation [FKNK] by obstructing people from expressing themselves through a referendum.”  [Tassew illi d-dritt tal-maġġoranza għandu jitwettaq b’rispett lejn id-dritt tal-minoranza, iżda dan ir-rispett ma jinkisibx billi, kif trid il-Federazzjoni, il-poplu ma jitħalliex isemma’ leħnu f’referendum.]

This same argument  was also the subject of a petition to Parliament organised by the hunters’ lobby and presented in Parliament by Parliamentary Secretary Michael Falzon some months ago.  In recent days, comments have been made indicating that shortly we may be hearing of the government’s reactions to this petition. These reactions will most probably be in the form of proposals for amendments to the Referenda Act of 1973, in particular amendments to the provisions regulating the holding of an abrogative referendum – provisions which were originally approved by Parliament in 1996 and brought in force in 1998.

The provisions of  the Referenda Act in Malta providing for the holding of an abrogative referendum are already very restrictive.  From what has been stated, hunters want such provisions to be even more restrictive.  In this sense they have already made public a proposal that a definite time window within which signatures for an abrogative referendum have to be collected has to be established.  In Italian legislation, for example, there exists a 90-day window within which the collection of signatures has to be carried out. Such a time window may be a reasonable proposal within the Italian legal system, but then in Italy the number of voter signatures required to trigger the abrogative referendum process is proportionately much lower than that required in Malta.

The number of signatures required to kick-start the abrogative referendum process in Malta is 10 per cent of the registered voters. This currently stands at slightly under 34,000 signatures. In Italy, by contrast, half-a-million signatures – or the consent of five regional councils – is required. The number  of signatures required in Italy amount to approximately one per cent of the electorate, meaning that the corresponding requirement in Malta is ten times as much!

I will not speculate over how the government will seek to translate the hunters’ petition into legislation. I have limited myself to one specific proposal.

It is still unclear as to what type of amendments to the Referenda Act will be submitted by government. One thing is, however, very clear:  we need to keep our eyes wide open to ensure that our rights are not reduced.

The abrogative referendum is an important tool in our democratic society, even though it has been made use of only once in its 19-year existence.  Let us hope that government will not succumb to pressures to have it diluted or removed.

published in The Malta Indpendent on Sunday : 19 April 2015

Michael Falzon jiskuża ruħu

MFalzon apology

Mela Michael Falzon skuża ruħu. Fi stqarrija li ħareġ illum waranofsinnhar skuża ruħu bla riżervi talli ttradixxa l-fiduċja li bosta kellhom fih.

Huwa tajjeb li Michael Falzon għamel apoliġja pubblika, avolja tard.

Dam tlett ijiem biex għamilha, u għamilha biss għaliex inqabad.

 

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.

 

 

Meta il-Partit Laburista ried €5 għal kull vot kull sena

five euroLabour's 5 euro proposal 

source: the price tag of democracy

Id-dibattitu fil-Parlament, f’dawn il-ġranet, dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi hu wieħed li ilu ħafna snin biex isir. Tul is-snin kien hemm ħafna tkaxkir tas-saqajn li ippospona din id-diskussjoni.

Biżżejjed insemmu r-rapport Galdes tal-1995 li dwaru baqa’ ma sar xejn.

Il-bieraħ ġie fi tmiemu l-fażi tat-tieni qari, jiġifieri d-diskussjoni dwar il-prinċipji tal-liġi. Smajna minn kollox. Kien hemm diskorsi utli li bla dubju taw kontribut biex id-diskussjoni tkun waħda matura. Fosthom id-diskorsi ta’ Mario de Marco, Michael Falzon u Owen Bonnici.

Kien hemm ukoll bosta diskorsi li saru għall-gallarija. Ma taw l-ebda kontribut partikolari ħlief li rrepetew il-paroli li ilna nisimgħu. Bl-intenzjoni unika li jiskurjaw il-punti politiċi.

Il-liġi tipproponi limiti dwar x’donazzjonijiet jistgħu jirċievu l-partiti politiċi. Tobbliga lill-istess partiti illi jkollhom verifika tal-kotba kif ukoll tintroduċi miżuri biex il-partiti politiċi jkunu reġistrati.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha sa mit-twaqqif tagħha fl-1989 titkellem dwar dawn il-miżuri.

Il-liġi preżentment quddiem il-Parlament hi imsejħa liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti. Iżda titkellem fuq kollox ħlief dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti. Il-Gvern diġa ddikjara li l-finanzjament pubbliku tal-partiti politiċi mhux fuq l-aġenda għalissa. Qed jgħid li dan il-finanzjament  pubbliku jkun fuq l-aġenda iktar tard, meta tkun bdiet titħaddem din il-liġi u tkun bdiet tagħti l-frott.

Filwaqt li Alternattiva Demokratika dejjem tkellmet favur il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi mill-istat tajjeb li niftakru li sa Marzu 2013 anke l-Partit Laburista kien idoqq din id-diska.  Il-proposta tal-Partit Laburista qabel Marzu 2013 kienet ta’ finanzjament pubbliku ta’ €5 għal kull vot kull sena. Issa l-Partit Laburista bidel il-posizzjoni tiegħu.  Anke l-PN bidel il-posizzjoni tiegħu: sa Marzu 2013 kien kontra l-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi mill-istat imma issa mirakolożament hu favur!

M’hemmx serjeta’ da parti kemm tal-Partit Laburista kif ukoll tal-Partit Nazzjonalista għax dawn konvenjentement jibdlu l-veduti tagħom skond jekk ikunux fil-Gvern jew fl-Opposizzjoni.

Li m’humiex jgħidu kemm il-PN kif ukoll il-PL hu li kull sena fil-budget kull wieħed miż-żewġ partiti fil-Parlament jingħataw €200,000 bejniethom. Dawn il-flus ilhom jeħduhom sa mill-1994. Għall-bidu kienu jeħduhom dwar il-ħidma politika tagħhom in konnessjoni mal-Parlament Ewropew. Iktar tard l-applikabilita’ tal-fondi ġiet imwessa’ għall-ħidma internazzjonali tal-Partiti. Dan ifissser li bejniethom il-partiti fil-Parlament s’issa ħadu €4 miljuni. Dawn ukoll huma flus mit-taxxi li dwarhom ma kellhomx diffikulta biex idaħħluhom fil-but.

Jiena ltqajt diversi drabi mal-Ministru Owen Bonnici u miegħu iddiskutejt il-liġi li qed jipproponi. F’isem Alternattiva Demokratika tajtu ukoll proposti dettaljati dwar kif il-liġi proposta tista’ tkun aħjar.  Il-liġi hi pass tajjeb il-quddiem. Imma mhiex biżżejjed. Tista’ tkun ukoll aħjar.

Ċertament li hi ħafna l-bogħod mill-€5 kull sena għal kull vot li l-Partit Laburista kien jipproponi qabel Marzu 2013.

ippubblikat ukoll fuq iNews is-Sibt 15 ta’ Novembru 2014

Garanzija biex min seraq, igawdi dak li seraq

Bajja 2.2003 GPullicino jiltaqa' mal-Assocjazzjoni

Fir-ritratt ta’ hawn fuq li hu meħud minn Il-Bajja No.2 ta’ April 2003 jidher George Pullicino, dakinnhar Segretarju Parlamentari, jippoża mal-kumitat inkarigat mill-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa wara waħda mil-laqgħat fejn min seraq l-art pubblika fl-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa ingħata l-appoġġ mill-politiċi li huma eletti fil-Parlament.

Id-dibattitu fil-pajjiż dwar il-kmamar tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa kif ukoll (ftit inqas) dwar dawk fil-Bajja ta’ San Tumas ilu għaddej. Min hu kontra, min hu favur u min jiġi jaqa’ u jqum.

Il-każ huwa wieħed li jattakka s-soċjeta demokratika fl-egħruq tagħha. Għax il-messaġġ ċar li ilu jidwi hu li quddiem il-liġi m’aħniex kollha xorta. Fl-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa (L-Armier, Little Armier, it-Torri l-Abjad) u fil-Bajja ta’ San Tumas il-prinċipju tas-Saltna tad-Dritt (r-Rule of Law) idub u jisparixxi.

Min seraq l-art, bniha bla permess u anke seraq l-elettriku ser ikun ippremjat.

Alternattiva Demokratika biss tkellmet ċar kontra dan l-abbuż. Ftehemu kemm mal-Partit Laburista kif ukoll mal-Partit Nazzjonalista. Fil-Gvern għal 25 sena l-Partit Nazzjonalista ma rnexxilux jerfa’ subgħajh biex iġib sens ta’ ordni. Ipprova darba l-Perit Michael Falzon meta kien Ministru tal-Ippjanar u l-Kabinett bagħtu jixxejjer! Falzon riċentement kiteb fil-gazzetti li dakinnhar tgħallem li l-voti huma iktar importanti mill-prinċipji!

Waqt li l-Perit Michael Falzon ried iwaqqa’ dak li kien illegali, Ministri oħrajn ftehmu ma min b’mod sfaċċat u fid-dawl tax-xemx sfida l-liġi. Dawn dejjem irraġunaw li bl-appoġġ tal-PN u l-PL ħadd ma jista’ għalihom! Fl-aħħar jidher li ser jirnexxilhom.

Il-PN irnexxilu jipproteġihom għal 25 sena sħaħ. Fil-futur qarib il-Labour fil-Gvern jidher li ser jissiġilla din l-sfida kbira għall-liġi u l-ordni fil-pajjiż.

Messaġġ ċar li l-Labour Party ta’ Malta qed jagħti (bl-appoġġ tal-PN). Il-Labour fil-Gvern jiggarantilek li tgawdi dak li sraqt.

Il-lejla fuq Times Talk niddiskuti dan is-suġġett mal-preżentaturi Mark Micallef u Herman Grech u mistednin mill-partiti politiċi l-oħra.

lokalitajiet minn fejn joriginaw dawk li ghandhom il-boathouses f'idejhom 2010

Il-lista ta’ hawn fuq hi estratt minn Il-Bajja Nru 30 ta’ April 2010 u turi l-lokalitajiet fejn joqgħodu dawk li għandhom il-boathouses f’idejhom.