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

Fuq il-passi ta’ Anġlu Farrugia

anglu-farrugia2

 

Meta Anġlu Farrugia lejlet l-Elezzjoni Ġenerali qabeż il-linja u ikkritika b’mod mhux aċċettabbli lil waħda mill-Maġistrati, Joseph Muscat ġiegħlu jwarrab minn Deputat Mexxej tal-Partit. Kien hemm ħafna kummenti dwar dan. Joseph, dakinnhar xejn ma skrupla jakkuża, u jiddeċiedi. Insista li Anġlu kellu jerfa’ r-responsabbilta’ politika u jwarrab. U baqa’ sakemm warrab.

Il-każ ta’ Manwel Mallia mhux identiku bħal dak ta’ Anġlu imma huwa ukoll każ fejn hemm ħtieġa li tintrefa ir-responsabbilta politika għal dak li ġara bil-karozza uffiċjali tal-Ministru.  Min-naħa l-waħda qed ikun dejjem iktar ċar x’ġara u min-naħa l-oħra qed ikun iktar ċar x’intqal. Illum, per eżempju nafu aħjar kif kien hemm min ipprova jisgwida lill-gazzetti billi għaddilhom informazzjoni mhux korretta dwar kif u għaliex seħħet l-isparatura. Imma l-giddieb għomru qasir għax malajr bdew jindunaw x’ġara tassew.

Ir-responabbilta’ politika trid tintrefa anke minn Manwel Mallia. L-impatti politiċi fuq min ikun ġenwin u jerfa’ ir-responsabbilta’ tiegħu mill-ewwel, fit-tul ikunu pożittivi. Min-naħa l-oħra min jirreżisti li jagħmel dmiru u  ma jkunx irid jerfa’ r-responabbiltajiet tiegħu ibati biex jirkupra. L-effetti politiċi fuqu jkunu ikbar. Dejjem hekk ġara. Għax raġel veru hu raġel dejjem.

Fir-Repubblika tal-Banana ……………..għandna ukoll Parlament

monkey_banana

Fil-Parlament il-lejla l-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia ta’ ruling fuq każ ta’ ksur ta’ privileġġ li Joseph Muscat Prim Ministru ressaq kontra Simon Busuttil Kap tal-Opposizzjoni.

Muscat ħassu offiż li l-bieraħ, fil-Parlament, Busuttil qal li kien hemm indħil politiku minn Muscat fil-każ tal-pulizija fil-konfront ta’ John Dalli.

L-Ispeaker Farrugia ikkonkluda li kien hemm ksur ta’ privileġġ. L-Opposizzjoni telqet il-barra wara li Mario de Marco qam fil-Parlament u qal li r-ruling tal-Ispeaker ifisser illi l-Membri Parlamentari ma jistgħux jaslu għal konklużjoni politika dwar dak li jkun għaddej.

Naħseb li l-Membri Parlamentari qed jaġixxu qieshom tfal żgħar.

Muscat messu qam u spjega għaliex Busuttil wasal għal konklużjoni żbaljata, jekk inhu l-każ.  Il-fatt li dan m’għamlux ifisser li jħossu skomdu jidħol f’dan l-argument. Għax dak li qal Simon Busuttil hi konklużjoni li waslu għaliha ħafna nies hemm barra fit-triq.

Hija l-perception tan-nies.  L-istess perception li tul is-snin wasslet in-nies biex tikkonkludi li dan hu pajjiż korrott.  Jekk tistaqsi għall-provi ħadd ma jagħtihomlok. Mhux ser issibhom imma hekk taħseb in-nies.

Meta tara l-mod kif tkellmu kemm il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija tal-lum Pietru Pawl  Zammit kif ukoll il-Kummissarju ta’ ftit ilu John Rizzo bil-fors tasal għal konklużjoni li hemm xi ħaġa m’hiex f’postha. Kif jista’ l-Kummissarju Rizzo jasal għal konklużjoni mod u wara ftit il-Kummissarju Zammit jasal għall-konklużjoni mod ieħor? It-tnejn qalu li qabel magħhom l-Avukat Ġenerali tar-Repubblika, avolja dak li fil-fatt qal l-Avukat Ġenerali tar-Repubblika s’issa ma jafu ħadd hlief Rizzo u Zammit!

Qiesna f’Repubblika tal-Banana.

Il-logħba ta’ Muscat hi waħda perikoluża u għalkemm ma naqbilx li hemm xi theddida għad-demokrazija kif qiegħed jgħid il-PN qed tinħoloq klima ta’ sfiduċja li fit-tul tista’ twassal għal konsegwenzi gravi.

Il-Gvern qed jieħu għalih bil-kritika u flok ma jwieġeb u jispjega juża l-ksur tal-privileġġ, metodu mhux adatt għas-seklu 21.

L-Opposizzjoni min-naħa l-oħra minflok ma tirreaġixxi bil-kalma bl-iskop li tesponi b’mod intelliġenti l-Gvern għal dak li hu, issabbat saqajha u titlaq il-barra.

L-anqas li kien Parlament tat-tfal ma jimxi b’dan il-mod.

Fir-Repubblika tal-Banana għandna ukoll Parlament!

Fil-but tal-kuntratturi

euros-loads-of-money

L-infieq tal-PN u tal-PL f’din il-kampanja elettorali hu sostanzjali. Qed jintefqu l-miljuni. Jew biex inkun iktar preċiż qed jintużaw riżorsi li jiswew il-miljuni.

Jieħdu għalihom meta ngħidulhom li mill-politika tagħhom kif ukoll mill-mod kif jaġixxu huwa ċar li qegħdin fil-but tal-kuntratturi.

Wara li l-bieraħ kkumentajt dwar dan fil-konferenza stampa organizzata minn Alternattiva Demokratika, illum żewg rapporti fil-Malta Today u s-Sunday Times komplew jitfgħu iktar dawl fuq il-materja.

L-intervista ta’ Anġlu Farruga fis-Sunday Times u l-istorja dwar il-karita’ tas-Sammaritan Żaren Vassallo mal-PN fil-Malta Today jisjegaw ħafna affarijiet.

Il-PN qed jiċħad din l-istorja u qed jhedded lill-Malta Today b’azzjoni legali.

Forsi issa huwa iktar faċli li wieħed jifhem għaliex għad m’għandniex liġi li tirregola l-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi f’Malta.

Wara Xarabank li ma sarx …………..

Xarabank

Il-bieraħ fil-għaxija kont mistieden għall-programm Xarabank biex fid-dibattitu bejn Simon Busuttil u Anġlu Farrugia ngħaddi xi kummenti.

Qed ngħid ngħaddi xi kummenti għax fil-programm kont ser nipparteċipa u inkun allokat massimu ta’ 8 minuti għal xi tlett interventi bħalma xi ġimgħat ilu kien allokat Michael Briguglio fid-dibattitu bejn il-mexxejja tal-PN u l-PL.

Alternattiva Demokratika m’għandiex l-istazzjon tagħha u allura m’għandiex għażla dwar x’tista’ tagħmel f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, tiddependi kompletament fuq il-ħin offrut. Anke jekk dan ikun allokat b’mod li fil-fehma tagħna jkun inġust. Il-Partiti l-oħra min-naħa l-oħra għandhom kemm l-istazzjon televiżiv tagħhom kif ukoll iridu sehem mill-ħin fuq l-istazzjon nazzjonali.

Il-farsa li żviluppat fil-ħin li kellu jibda Xarabank il-bierah hi issa magħrufa. Franco Debono ried li jkollu l-opportunita li jiddibatti ma Simon Busuttil. Il-motiv ewlieni għal dan hu li matul il-ġimgħat u forsi anke matul ix-xhur li għaddew inżamm il-bogħod mill-istudios konnessi mal-PBS. Tas-Super One ovvjament jippruvaw jagħsru  li jistgħu għall-vantaġġ massimu li jippermettu ċ-ċirkustanzi. Tan-NET iqiesuh irrelevanti.

F’pajjiż fejn il-ġurnaliżmu investigattiv jirrenja, l-istazzjonijiet televiżivi kien ikollhom minjiera ta’ informazzjoni x’jesploraw fi Franco Debono.  Imma dan ftit li xejn sar sfortunatament. Għax il-ġurnaliżmu fil-pajjiż hu prinċipalment wieħed motivat minn aġenda politika. Ħafna drabi b’mod li tidher, xi drabi mlibbsa b’mod li hi taparsi indipendenti. F’xi każi indipendenti ftit, xi kultant ftit iktar.

Franco hu bniedem taħt assedju u fil-fehma tiegħi iħoss li billi ma ikkonformax mas-sistema din ippruvat toħonqu. Nifhem dak li jħoss għalkemm naħseb li ma użax il-metodi addattati. Il-konsegwenza hi li hu inħaraq u probabilment li ser jinħarqu miegħu dawk kollha li matul din il-leġislatura xelfu xi ftit difrejhom mat-tmexxija tal-PN.

Pero’ l-istorja ma naħsibx li tieqaf hawn. Kulħadd naħseb li tgħallem xi ħaġa minn dak li ġara fil-Parlament matul dawn il-5 snin. Mhux biss minn dak li qal u għamel Franco, iżda ukoll minn dak li għamel JPO. (Lil Mugliett ma nsejtux. Ma semmejtux għax ma kienx persuna li ħadet xi inizzjattiva. Pjuttost mexa mal-kurrent. Għamel numru ta’ diskorsi parlamentari tajbin. Wieħed minnhom kien dwar l-ismart meters. Kien diskors studjat u ippreparat.)

Hi ħasra li daqstant enerġija inħliet meta setgħet faċilment intużat b’mod ħafna iktar pożittiv.

Is-Sur Anġ mhux ta’ subgħajh f’ħalqu

Kemm inħolqu impiegi?  Kemm żdiedu l-impiegi?

Bħalissa, u għal dawn l-aħħar ġimgħat ilna nisimgħu verżjonijiet differenti dwar x’ġara. Veru li inħolqu 20,000 impieg? Hekk qed jgħid il-Gvern. Imma l-Opposizzjoni qed tgħid li l-Gvern qed jigdeb.

Issa Anġlu Farrugia qed jgħid li anke’ Tonio Fenech jaqbel miegħu għax id-dokument ta’qabel il-budget, skond is-Sur Anġ, jikkonferma dak li qed jgħid il-Labour.

Fil-pre-budget dokument, fit-Tabella 1.1 li qegħda fuq paġna 4 sibt li t-total tan-nies jaħdmu fl-2008 kien ta’ 145,518 u dawn żdiedu għal 149,764 fl-2011. Jiġifieri f’dan il-perjodu bejn l-2008 u l-2011 it-total ta’ Maltin jaħdmu żdied b’4,246 (erbat elef, mitejn u sitta u erbgħin).

Fl-istess perjodu, skond l-istess dokument ta’ qabel il-budget,  dawk jirreġistraw għax-xogħol żdied in-numru tagħhom b’233 (mitejn u tlieta u tletin).

Issa jiena dawn iċ-ċifri ma nafx kif qed jingħad li jgiddbu d-dikjarazzjoni tal-Prim Ministru li inholqu 20,000 impieg.  Għax jekk żdiedu fl-impieg 4,246 persuna meta inħolqu 20,000 ifisser li matul l-istess perjodu intilfu 15,754 impieg. Din hi l-vera figura allarmanti! Bħalma huwa inkwetanti li l-kwalita’ tax-xogħol li inħoloq f’ħafna każi huwa inferjuri għax-xogħol li intilef.

Issa jiena forsi ma nafx naqra daqs is-Sur Anġ, imma s-somom għadni naf nagħmilhom.

Issa s-Sur Anġ mhux ta’ subgħajh f’ħalqu u forsi xi ftit jaf jaqra ukoll. Imma naħseb li jkun iktar kredibbli kienu jgħid il-fatti kif inhuma mingħajr ma jipprova jagħtihom il-kulur.