Fid-dell ta’ Aliyev

Għadu kmieni biex wieħed jifforma opinjoni dwar kemm il-Bank ta Pilatus kien qed jirriċikla l-flus maħmuġin mal-erbat irjieħ tad-dinja fisem il-klijenti tiegħu. Dan minħabba li l-fatti, dejjem jekk seħħew, sissa la ġew spjegati biżżejjed u l-anqas sostanzjati fil-pubbliku.

Allegazzjonijiet isiru l-ħin kollu imma ftit ikunu sostanzjati. Meta dawn il-provi ma jkunux imperċin dan ikun ifisser jew li ma seħħux kif intqal, inkella li dawn il-provi ser jibqgħu kunfidenzjali għax ikun meħtieġ li jkun protett is-sors tal-informazzjoni.

Il-gravitá tal-allegazzjonijiet bil-fors tqajjem punt interogattiv dwar jekk dak li jkun qed jintqal hux minnu jew le. Avolja qegħdin fi żmien li ma tantx ser nistagħġbu jekk dak allegat seħħx verament.

Nafu li t-tmexxija tal-Ażerbajġan hi waħda minn l-iktar korrotti fid-dinja u għalhekk anke l-fatt biss li pajjiżna qed jidher viċin wisq ta dan il-pajjiż hu minnu innifsu ta tħassib. Bħalma hu tad-daħq, jew forsi aħjar tal-biki żżjarat spissi tal-Ispeaker tal-Parlament Malti fdan il-pajjiż fejn spiss smajnieh jgħidilna kemm hu demokratiku u trasparenti Aliyev. Ovvjament dawn iċcertifikati ta’ Anglu Farrugia ftit jikkonvinċu nies dwar Aliyev, imma bla dubju jixħtu dell konsiderevoli fuq dak li Mr Speaker jifhem b’demokrazija u trasparenza.

Huwa fdan il-kuntest li wieħed irid ipoġġi dak li qed jintqal.

Għax pajjiżna jidher li dieħel fl-industrija tar-riċiklaġġ. Mhux dik assoċjata mal-ħarisen tal-ambjent imma l-prodott tal-korruzzjoni.

L-Onorevoli jerġa’ jagħmilha

Malta Parliament

Hi sfortuna li d-dibattitu politiku fil-pajjiż reġa qiegħed jikkarga.

Il-Parlament hu l-post fejn issir il-kritika. Imma l-kritika, anke jekk iebsa mgħandiex tkun insolenti. L-insulti ma jagħmlu ġid lil ħadd: la lil min jgħidhom u l-anqas lil min jirċievihom.

Il-każi riċenti li dwarhom l-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia kien kostrett li jagħti ruling, għal wieħed tnejn huma inkwetanti, għax ifisser li fuq naħa waħda hemm min qed jitlef rasu u fuq in-naħa l-oħra hemm min hu sensittiv iżżejjed.

Ovvjament kullħadd tad-demm u l-laħam u meta tkun ilek taqla ġo fik, fl-aħħar tixpakka. Dak li qed jiġri bħalissa fil-Parlament. Diskors li ma jagħmel la ġid u l-anqas ġieħ lil ħadd.

Kien floku kliem l-iSpeaker li ipprova jberred ftit l-affarijiet billi ta ċans biex dak li jkun jerġa jaħsibha u forsi juża kliem iktar addattat.

Imma jidher li ċerti nies ma jitgħallmu qatt.

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-awtonomija amministrattiva tal-Parlament

Malta Parliament

 

Il-Parlament jerġa’ jiltaqa’ llum, wara l-waqfa għall-btajjel tal-Milied.

Fuq quddiem fl-aġenda tal-lejla hemm għad-diskussjoni abbozz ta’ liġi dwar is-servizz Parlamentari. Permezz ta’ din il-liġi, meta tkun approvata, l-Parlament ser jingħata l-awtonomija amministrattiva.

Din hi inizjattiva li ilha li bdiet is-snin, miż-żmien li kien Speaker Anton Tabone, imma ngħatat spinta kbira mill-iSpeaker Michael Frendo. L-iSpeaker attwali Anġlu Farrugia wassal il-proposta sal-punt tal-lum.

L-abbozz ta’ liġi jipprovdi għall-ingaġġ tal-impjegati tal-Parlament, li ser jkun separat minn dak tas-servizz pubbliku, kif ukoll jipprovdi għal budget tal-Parlament li jkun wieħed approvat mill-Parlament separatament mill-budget normali.

F’Settembru 2012, Tonio Borg li dakinnhar kien Ministru għall-Affarijiet tal-Parlament kien ħareġ White Paper intitolata : Il-Parlament Malti: Iktar Awtonomija Iktar Responsabbiltà.

L-awtonomija amministrattiva tal-Parlament hi pass fid-direzzjoni tajba. Xi darba ma tafx kif, forsi jirrealizzaw ukoll li ilu li wasal iż-żmien li l-membri parlamentari jeħtieġ li jkunu kollha fulltimers.

Imma issa drajna nimxu bil-mod. Fl-aħħar imma naslu ukoll!

Simon qed joħlom, jew ………

Simon Busuttil + Anglu Farrugia

 

Il-każ tad-diesel tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni tfaċċa f’daqqa. Il-pubbliku ma kien jaf xejn bil-każ qabel il-bieraħ. Jidher li l-amministrazzjoni tal-Parlament innutat dak li dehrilha li kienu diskrepanzi bejn id-diesel ikkunsmat u l-użu effettiv tal-karozza mħallsa minn fondi pubbliċi li jagħmel użu minnha l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni. Milli qed jintqal intalbet spjegazzjoni imma mid-dehra din l-ispjegazzjoni ma kienitx ta’ sodisfazzjon. Għalhekk infetħet inkjesta bil-maġistrat.

Mingħajr ma tkun taf il-fatti sewwa diffiċli biex tgħid jekk kienx meħtieġ jew le li tinfetaħ inkjesta bil-maġistrat.

Il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni qed jgħid li hu għadu ma fehemx x’inhu jiġi allegat għax safejn jaf hu ma hemm xejn irregolari. L-infieq massimu stabilit għad-diesel ma nqabiżx. Skond il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni, il-konsum tad-diesel m’huwiex wieħed eċċessiv, anke meta dan tqabblu ma karozzi oħra.

Huwa inkwetanti ħafna imma dak li qal il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni li l-inkjesta dwaru hi xi forma ta’ vendetta għal dak li ġara matul dawn l-aħħar ġranet fil-Parlament. Simon Busuttil hu rappurtat li qal li hi ko-inċidenza stramba li l-inkjesta dwar il-konsum tad-diesel tħabbret l-għada li l-opposizzjoni ppubblikat dokument dwar it-tmexxija tajba (good governance) u ġimgħa wara li huwa ikkontesta ruling tal-Ispeaker (fil-kaz Joe Debono Grech/Marlene Farrugia).

X’ġara eżattament għad irid ikun stabilit għax dan s’issa m’huwiex magħruf ħlief (forsi) minn dawk direttament involuti. Hemm żewġ affarijiet serji involuti li jeħtieġ li jkunu ċċarati malajr kemm jista’ jkun: il-frodi allegati u agħar minn hekk l-allegazzjoni ta’ tpattija.

Minn dak li ntqal, hu possibli, li, fl-aħħar, wara kollox tinstab spjegazzjoni li tiġġustifika l-konsum tad-diesel imma dwar l-allegazzjoni ta’ vendetta għandna għaliex inkunu inkwetati ħafna. Għax jew Simon Busuttil qed joħlom inkella hemm problema serja ħafna fit-tmexxija tal-Parlament.

Il-maqjel ta’ Renzo Piano

new parliament building Malta2

 

Meta l-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia f’mument ta’ storbju fil-Parlament esklama li l-Parlament m’huwiex maqjel kien qed jagħmel osservazzjoni li bosta ilhom jagħmlu. Ikun hemm mumenti fejn l-ambjent Parlamentari ikun wieħed moqżież.

Fortunatament dawn il-mumenti ma jseħħux b’mod frekwenti.

Il-kawża ta’ dan kollu huwa n-nuqqas ta’ rispett lejn opinjonijiet differenti li hi ukoll riflessa fin-nuqqas ta’ diskussjoni serja fil-partiti politiċi ewlenin infushom.  Din hi l-bidla mill-qiegħ li hi meħtieġa fil-politika Maltija: li nirrispettaw iktar l-opinjonijiet differenti.

Huwa faċli li tirrispetta lil min jaqbel  miegħek, ma trid tagħmel l-ebda sforz għal dan. Id-diffikultà hi biex tirrispetta lil min ma jaqbilx miegħek.

F’soċjetà li hi sfortunatament ippolarizzata fil-livelli kollha tagħha naf li dan hu diffiċli ħafna. Il-soċjetà tagħna tipprietka kontinwament li min mhux magħna, kontra tagħna. Li tagħna hu l-aħjar u li l-oħrajn ma jiswewx.

L-użu ta’ dan il-kliem mhuwiex sempliċiment retorika,  iżda l-bażi tal-eżistenza tal-partiti politiċi ewlenin.

Għalhekk maqjel.

Wara d-dibattitu jibqa’ ċ-ċpar

fog-09

Fil-waqt li hu tajjeb li d-dibattitu dwar il-mozzjoni tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni dwar ir-ruling tal-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia sar mill-ewwel, sfortunatment  ma solva xejn.

Il-Gvern, m’għandix dubju, fehem li kien meħtieġ rimedju immedjat biex b’xi mod jittaffa l-messaġġ negattiv tar-ruling tal-Ispeaker fuq il-kaz Marlene Farrugia/Joe Debono Grech. Għalhekk l-apoloġija bil-miktub minn Joe Debono Grech. Apoloġija li giet 5 ijiem tard.

Id-diskorsi li saru ma tantx kienu ta’ għajnuna biex jasal messaġġ ċar. L-argument ta’ “aħjar tara x’għamilt int” , ma jikkonvinċi lil ħadd illum il-ġurnata. L-anqas it-tidwir mal-lewża, f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, xejn ma jgħin.

Spiċċajna b’dibatttu bi Gvern jipprova jnaqqas l-impatti negattivi fil-media u l-opinjoni pubblika u Kap tal-Opposizzjoni jipprova jagħsar kemm jiflaħ is-sitwazzjoni għal kull vantaġġ politiku possibli.

It-tagħlima hi waħda għal kulħadd. Tippruvax tiġġustifika l-iżbalji tiegħek (jew tan-naħa tiegħek) billi tkabbar l-iżbalji ta’ ħaddieħor. Kif ukoll, fejn hemm il-problemi, ipprova solvihom, mhux tkabbarhom biex tidher sabiħ int!

Messaġġ żbaljat tal-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia

Speaker Anglu Farrugia

Ir-ruling iktar kmieni llum mogħti mill-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia dwar il-battibekk bejn Marlene Farrugia u Joe Debono-Grech fil-Parlament iwassal messaġġ żbaljat.

Il-battibekki fil-Parlament m’humiex xi ħaġa rari. Pero b’daqshekk ma jfissirx li jsiru la aċċettabbli u l-anqas ta’ min jittollerhom.

Marlene Farrugia għandha raġun tħossha offiża mhux daqstant bl-insulti tas-soltu, li wieġbet spirtu pront, imma li l-kliem indirzzat lejha minn Joe Debono Grech “niġi għalik u nifqgħek” ma ġiex mogħti l-importanza li kien jixraqlu.

Il-kliem użat iwassal messaġġ ta’ vjolenza fiżika. L-istess kliem indirizzat lejn diversi nisa imsawwta li jispiċċaw vittma darbtejn: l-ewwel għax jiġu imsawta u wara għax jispiċċaw jingħataw it-tort.

Huwa f’dan is-sens li naħseb li r-ruling tal-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia huwa żbaljat: Marlene Farrugia sfat vittma darbtejn: bl-insult/theddida ta’ Debono Grech u bir-ruling tal-Ispeaker  li sfortunatament ma għarafx il-gravità tas-sitwazzjoni.

Il-messagg li wasal hu wieħed ħażin ħafna: li n-nisa li jissawtu hu tort tagħhom.

Għamlet tajjeb Marlene li insistiet li titkellem u għamlet preċiżament dan l-argument.

 

Lobbying: influencing decision-taking

 

what to do

Lobbying risks corruption. Establishing clear standards of acceptable behaviour in public life ought to include the regulation of lobbying, yet the Standards in Public Life Bill currently pending on the Parliament’s agenda ignores this important matter completely.

Potentially, lobbying is not a dirty matter. It is perfectly legitimate for any citizen, group of citizens, corporations or even NGOs to seek to influence decision-taking. It is done continuously and 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, should 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.

I am not aware of the reason why the Parliamentary Select Committee, led by Hon Speaker Anġlu Farrugia, failed to identify lobbying as a matter which requires regulation within the framework of the Standards in Public Life Bill. Perusal of the final report dated 24 March 2014, as well as the minutes of the Select Committee, does not reveal any indication that the matter was ever even mentioned in the Select Committee’s deliberations. In fact in my opinion, perusal of Parliament’s Motion 77, which contains the Select Committee’s terms of reference, indirectly includes lobbying as one of the matters which had to be examined.

Lobbying requires a considerable dose of transparency. It needs to be unchained from the shackles of secrecy. In other jurisdictions this is done through actively disclosing lobbying activities, thereby placing them under the spotlight of public opinion. The public has a right to know who is seeking to influence the decision-taking process and this helps ensure that lobbying is not used as a tool to secretly derail or deflect political decisions.

Other jurisdictions require that lobbying activities are documented and that the official being lobbied is always accompanied. Subsequently a list of lobbying meetings and the resulting documentation is released or made available. Such disclosure is normal in various democracies.

Lobbying can be regulated in two ways: by regulating the lobbyist activities and by regulating the potential recipient of lobbying.

The activities of the lobbyist can be regulated either through a compulsory registration of lobbyists or else through a regular disclosure of the names of those carrying out lobbying activities.

On the other hand, the potential recipient of lobbying ought to be regulated through a disclosure of all information related to lobbying, including minutes of meetings as well as any memoranda exchanged or submitted for the consideration of the decision-taker.

Full transparency is undoubtedly the best tool which – together with guidelines on the permissible receipt of gifts as well as whistle-blowing – will reduce the risk of lobbying being transformed into an instrument of corruption.

This is not all. Malta also requires rules that regulate the lobbying that is carried out through revolving-door recruitment. At times, this is the easiest way in which special interest groups recruit former Ministers, as well as the former high ranking civil servants regulating them, immediately on concluding their term of office. In this manner, they seek to tap contacts and quasi-direct access to or knowledge of information of extreme sensitivity. It also happens in reverse, when the public sector recruits lobbyists directly into the civil service without first having allowed sufficient time for cooling off so that former lobbyists thus recruited risk being Trojan horses in the public sector areas which previously regulated them.

If we are really serious about tackling corruption at its roots, it would be better if the need to regulate lobbying is urgently considered. Together with legislation on the financing of political parties just approved by Parliament (even if this is defective, as I have explained elsewhere), the regulation of lobbying would create a better tool-kit in the fight against corruption.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 26 July 2015

Wanted: an impartial regulator for political party financing

Financing of Political Parties Act

Earlier this week, Parliament’s Standing Committee for the Consideration of Bills concluded its detailed discussion on the Bill regarding the financing of political parties. I was invited by the Committee to participate in the discussion in representation of Alternattiva Demokratika.

The Bill was improved as a result of the discussion. Around 34 clauses of the Bill were, in fact, amended, most amendments receiving unanimous consent.

However Alternattiva Demokratika’s major objection to the Bill was not addressed. When the White Paper on the regulation of the financing of political parties was published with government’s initial proposals, AD was already making the point that the choice of the Electoral Commission as the regulator was not a suitable option.

This lack of suitability clearly results from the very composition of the Electoral Commission. It is composed of nine people, four of whom are nominated by the Prime Minister, a further four are nominated by the Leader of the Opposition and the ninth person is the chairman of the Commission, who occupies that post in virtue of his having been appointed by the Prime Minister as head of The Electoral Office.

How can nominees of the parliamentary political parties regulate impartially the very parties nominating them as well as other political parties? Over the years, the Electoral Commission had the responsibility of receiving and vetting the returns submitted by candidates for elections (local, national and European) in which returns the candidates should have listed the donations they have received as well as their electoral expenditure. A cursory look at the newspapers published during past election campaigns would immediately provide ample proof that a number of such returns were – without any doubt – false declarations. Over-spending and undeclared financing was rampant, yet the Electoral Commission never took any action. Had it done so, I think that quite a number of our Members of Parliament in past legislatures or MEPs would have been unseated.

Yet the Hon. Minister Owen Bonnici keeps defending the government’s political choice of selecting the Electoral Commission as the regulator. In the government’s defence, he stated that the Electoral Commission is a constitutional body entrusted with the conduct of elections which, he said, it has carried out to the satisfaction of everyone.

Minister Owen Bonnici is incorrect. The Electoral Commission, in conducting elections, does not have any elbow room. Its discretion is substantially limited by electoral legislation which is very tight and precise. And whenever the Electoral Commission had any practical room for manoeuvre it made a mess of it.  In simple words, the Electoral Commission is constructed on partisan foundations. There are historical reasons for this but it is a basic truth which cannot be camouflaged.

While the Electoral Commission’s hands are generally tied up where electoral legislation is concerned, it is a different kettle of fish when dealing with the regulation of political parties and their financing. There will be issues and submissions that require interpretation and an eventual decision.

Already, way back in February 2014, Alternattiva Demokratika had proposed an alternative regulatory authority in the person of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, a post resulting from a Bill which was proposed by a Parliamentary Select Committee led by Mr Speaker Anġlu Farrugia. This Select Committee concluded its work and presented its final report on 24 March 2014, almost 16 months ago. For those who seek to act in good faith there was ample time for considering the proposals made. Yet the proposed Bill is still pending on the Parliamentary agenda.

In the Bill [Standards in Public Life Bill] the Select Committee proposed that the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life should be appointed, subject to obtaining the support of two-thirds of Members of Parliament. The election of the Commissioner would thus be on a par with that of the Ombudsman: the requirement that the support of two-thirds of Parliament has to be achieved would ensure that the selected person would, irrespective of his/her views be acceptable to a very wide-cross section of society.

This is the way forward initially proposed by Alternattiva Demokratika, but supported at a later stage by the PN.

The government never spoke against the AD proposal but only stated that it preferred the Electoral Commission as the regulatory authority as it was in a hurry. Minister Owen Bonnici said many a time that the GRECO (Council of Europe – Group of States Against Corruption) was breathing down his neck and as a result he had no time to spare for institution building!

This law will most probably be applied with effect from 1st January 2016. It is generally designed on the basis of a one-size-fits-all template that does not distinguish between political parties having a turnover measured in millions of euros and others which handle just a few thousands of euros per annum.

Political parties will be required to present annual audited accounts to the regulator, which will be published. They will also be required to submit a report on donations received over a calendar year. In addition, they will be required to publish the names of those donating in excess of €7,000 in a calendar year up to the permissible maximum of €25,000.

Alternattiva Demokratika will be examining the law in detail and taking legal advice before deciding whether to initiate legal action contesting the selection of the Electoral Commission as the regulator. The proposed law is generally a step in the right direction but, unfortunately, is tainted by the lack of identification of an appropriate regulator. It is indeed a pity that, when taking such a bold step forward, the government preferred the partisan path. In so doing it has diluted the efforts of all those who have worked hard in previous years to achieve this goal.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 19 July 2015