Stennejt xi ħaġa aħjar minn Simon Busuttil

 

good_governance

Fid-diskors tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Simon Busuttil bi tweġiba għall-baġit issemmew qraba ta’ politiċi u dan in konnessjoni ma ħatriet f’Bordijiet fis-settur pubbliku.

Dak li ser ngħid m’huwiex rifless la fuq l-integrità tal-politiku u l-anqas tal-qarib jew qariba.

Huwa ħażin, fl-opinjoni tiegħi, li argument validu favur tmexxija tajba (good governance) jiddawwar f’battibek li jipprova jagħti l-impressjoni ta’ nuqqas ta’ integrità, b’mod partikolari meta ma hemm xejn li jagħti l-iċken indikazzjoni ta’ dan.  Għalhekk naħseb li l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni qiegħed il-kliem b’mod żbaljat u b’hekk il-kontribut tiegħu għal diskussjoni serja dwar din il-materja kien wieħed kompletament inkorrett. Stennejt xi ħaġa aħjar minn Simon Busuttil.

Din mhiex l-ewwel darba li qraba ta’ politiċi kienu taħt l-ispotlight. Hi issue li tista’ tinqala’ minn żmien għal żmien kważi taħt kull amministrazzjoni.  Il-mistoqsija ta’ dejjem hi dwar fejn għandha tinqata’ linja.

Il-Kodiċi tal-Etika tal-Ministri, per eżempju, fir-regola 23 tiegħu jinsisti li safejn hu possibli l-Ministri (u allura anke s-Segretarji Parlamentari) għandhom jevitaw li jappuntaw qraba bħala membri tas-segretarjat privat tagħhom.

Safejn naf jiena dik hi l-unika limitazzjoni bil-kitba li hemm dwar ħatriet ta’ qraba ta’ politiċi f’Malta. Ma jfissirx imma li ħatriet oħra jistgħu jsiru, iżda jfisser li jekk ikunu ikkunsidrati għal xi ħatra oħra għandu jkun hemm attenzjoni kbira. Bil-fatt li l-Kodiċi tal-Etika tal-Ministri kważi jeskludi l-ħatriet tal-qraba mis-segretarjat privat tal-Ministru (u tas-Segretarju Parlamentari) qed jingħata messaġġ ċar li l-politiku m’għandux jaħtar lill-qraba tiegħu bħala l-għajnejn u l-widnejn tiegħu fid-dikasteru li għalih huwa responsabbli. Ir-raġuni għal dan hi ċara: id-demm qatt ma jsir semm. Il-lealtà familjari, fil-ħajja pubblika, hi ostaklu għal tmexxija tajba.

Meta qraba ta’ politiċi li jkollhom is-setgħa eżekuttiva jinħatru f’Bordijiet fl-istess Ministeru tal-politiku qarib tagħhom, jinħoloq konflitt ta’ interess reali bejn il-lealtà familjari u l-lealtà lejn id-dover pubbliku. Tipprova kemm tipprova tegħleb dan il-kunflitt, dan dejjem ser jibqa’ hemm. Huwa kunflitt reali li jitfa’ dell bla bżonn fuq il-ħidma tal-persuna li tinħatar. Għalhekk biss, kapaċi kemm ikun jew kemm tkun, dawn il-ħatriet m’għandhomx isiru u dan fl-interess tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika korretta.

Qiegħed nillimita ruħi għal ħatriet li jkunu fl-istess qasam ta’ responsabbiltà tal-politiku għax ħatriet f’oqsma oħra, anke ta’ qraba ta’ politiċi, m’għandhomx ikunu imwarrba sempliċiment għax huma qraba. Pajjiżna hu żgħir wisq u ma jistax jeskludi wisq nies minn ħatriet ta’ din ix-xorta.

Il-qarib tal-politiku li jingħata ħatra fl-istess Ministeru tal-qarib tiegħu jew tagħha qatt ma jista’ jkun gwardjan effettiv tal-interess pubbliku. Id-demm qatt ma sar semm. U mhux ser jibda illum.

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Parlament full-time?

parlament

Il-bieraħ ħadt sehem f’diskussjoni qasira fuq TVam flimkien mal-Psikjatra Joe Cassar (PN) u l-Avukatessa Deborah Schembri (PL).

Id-diskussjoni kienet dwar il-proposta ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika li l-Parlament għandu jaħdem fuq bażi full-time mhux bħal ma jaħdem il-lum, part-time.

Hemm ħafna xogħol li l-Parlament jeħtieġ li jagħmlu u ma jagħmlux għax ħin m’għandux.

Il-ħidma tal-Gvern ftit li xejn issir sorveljanza tagħha fid-dettall mistħoqq. Dak li għaddej fl-Unjoni Ewropeja ma jiġix mgħarbel kif meħtieġ. Dan minkejja li l-Parlament ta’ stat membru illum il-ġurnata bħala riżultat tat-trattat ta’ Liżbona għandu rwol importanti fil-proċess leġislattiv Ewropew.

Il-Parlament u l-Parlamentari għandhom bżonn lil min jassistihom fir-riċerka. Qasam injorat għal snin twal.

Kont sorpriż iżda bl-argument li dwaru qablu Joe Cassar u Deborah Schembri dwar li jista’ jkollok Parlament full-time imma l-Parlamentari mhux bil-fors ikunu full-timers. Jiġifieri dawn iridu sistema li tippermetti li uħud mill-Membri tal-Parlament jagħżlu li jkunu full-timers u lil oħrajn li jagħżlu li ma jkunux u dan minħabba li l-professjoni jew xogħol ieħor tagħhom jokkupalhom iktar ħin. Din hi l-attitudni li tirreżisti l-ħtieġa li kull Membru Parlamentari jagħti l-ħin kollu għall-Parlament għax sfortunatament għad hawn min irid li jibqa’ jkollu sieq waħda fuq naħa u s-sieq l-oħra fuq in-naħa oħra.

Għad għadna Membri Parlamentari li jippreferu jagħtu l-attenzjoni prinċipali tagħhom lill-professjoni. Jeħtieġ li issir għażla għax il-prattika tal-professjoni u l-ħidma parlamentari huma żewġ responsabbiltajiet li faċilment jikkonfliġġu u jistgħu joħolqu konflitt ta’ interess.

Nifhem l-attitudni, għax din ġejja minn persuni li uħud minnhom għadhom m’humiex konvinti l-anqas dwar il-ħtieġa li l-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari  għandhom jieqfu mill-prattika tal-professjoni tagħhom.

Ir-rappreżentanti tal-PN u l-PL donnu li jridu jħallu f’idejn il-Membri Parlamentari individwali biex jiddeċiedu huma dwar jekk ikunux membri full-time jew part-time. Iridu li jkollna kemm Membri Parlamentari tal-ewwel diviżjoni (full-time) kif ukoll dawk tat-tieni diviżjoni (part-time). Fi ftit kliem iridu jibqgħu jipprattikaw il-professjoni u fl-istess ħin jippruvaw jaqdu r-responsabbiltajiet Parlamentari.

L-esperjenza sal-lum uriet li Parlament part-time hu Parlament dgħajjef. Parlament part-time hu Parlament li jabdika r-responsabbiltajiet tiegħu f’idejn il-Gvern tal-ġurnata.

Huwa billi jkollna Parlament li jagħmel xogħolu kollu li l-pajjiż jista’ jimxi l-quddiem. L-ogħla istituzzjoni tal-pajjiż ma tistax tibqa’ tiffunzjona fuq bażi part-time.

Dan hu l-pass li jmiss għall-Parlament. Parlament iktar b’saħħtu jfisser demokrazija iktar b’saħħitha.

The Foreign Minister & the Ministerial Code of Ethics

George Vella

Dr George Vella, Foreign Minister, in reply to Ivan Camilleri on today’s Times of Malta makes a valid point as to why, after being appointed a Cabinet Minister, he needs a transition period relative to the practicing of his profession as a medical doctor.

Ivan Camilleri describes Dr Vella as being “angry” at what he perceived as a “witch-hunt” in respect of members of the Cabinet still practising their profession.

Dr Vella has in fact repeated what former Health Minister Dr Joseph Cassar stated last week that in respect of patients who have been under his care for a number of years it would be extremely insensitive for him to withdraw abruptly from caring for them until they have had adequate time for them to identify an alternative professional who could take over their care.

This could easily have been solved by an immediate amendment to the Ministerial Code of Ethics through considering the possibility of utilising a suitable and reasonable transition period at the end of which medical doctors who are also members of Cabinet would be expected to cease practicing their profession altogether.

Establishment of such a transition period and subject to the medical doctor not being remunerated would have been a very reasonable  solution to the current impasse.

It however leaves unaddressed the general problem of Members of Parliament who still consider their parliamentary duties as being of a part-time nature. AD considers that it is high time that this issue is also addressed.

Parliament, AD states in its March 2013 electoral manifesto, should become a professional institution made up of full-time parliamentarians. This would assist MPs in fullfilling their Parliamentary duties much better than they are at present and could also possibly lead to Parliament functioning in a more family-friendly manner. [a very valid point made recently by new Labour MP Deborah Schembri]

An added benefit of a Parliament made up of full-time Members of Parliament would mean that by the time an MP (who is also a professional) is appointed as a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary he would have been weaned off his private practice. He/she would be used to it and so would his/her patients.

Power without responsibility

In a memorandum to political parties the Malta Employers’ Association has proposed that Malta should introduce the possibility to appoint technocrats to Parliament and to Cabinet.

Parliament is a representative body. In democratic societies Membership of Parliament is the result of being voted into office. There is no role for unelected technocrats in Parliament in a democracy. Technocrats can always contest elections and if elected they will form part of Parliament as of right.

The appointment of technocrats to Cabinet on the other hand would mean giving powers to unaccountable Ministers, if these have not been previously elected as Members of Parliament!

We have had a “technocrat in Cabinet” for a number of years, Richard Cachia Caruana!  In Malta it is the best example one can find of the use of political power without the shouldering of political responsibility. His Excellency undoubtedly exercised political power, even if unofficially, without submitting himself to the electorate’s consideration. He always preferred to remain in the shadows. His role is well known right up to his being removed by Parliament last summer.

Earlier during the 70s we had “technocrats” from the General Workers Union (GWU) who formed part of Cabinet. They participated in Cabinet meetings in view of the then fusion between the Labour Party and the GWU. They had no executive discretion but their participation in Cabinet meetings had some influence on decisions taken.

The appointment of unelected technocrats in a position whereby they exercise political discretion  is a proposal which is alien to the Maltese political system and would take Malta back to when the British Governor, generally a retired senior military person representing the colonial power, used to appoint a number of Maltese experts (including some bootlickers) to advise him, sometimes granting them executive powers in a so called Council of Government.

As rightly said by the FORUM of Maltese Trade Unions, the Malta Employers’ Association proposal is dangerous as if it is taken up it would reduce further the accountability of Cabinet.  Parliament is already very weak in that it has not been capable throughout the years to hold government to account. The proposal to introduce unelected technocrats in Cabinet would further weaken Parliament as it would allocate power without the corresponding responsibility.

Some may argue that technocrats would be neutral politically as they would not be subject to electoral pressures. This is incorrect as technocrats have their own political allegiances, their own political agendas and their own views of society.  Nothing wrong with that, accept that not being subject to the electorate is compounded with Malta’s weak Parliamentary set-up. Malta’s Parliament is a weakling which has very rarely been capable of scrutinising Cabinet’s operations effectively.

On TVam earlier this week Joe Farrugia of the Malta Employers’ Association stated that he was negatively impressed by the operation of Parliament in the past weeks. If a number of MPs are mediocre Joe Farrugia should address his concerns to the PN and the PL and ask them to select more appropriate parliamentary candidates!

Political power should be accompanied by accountability. Technocratic government as suggested by the Malta Employer’s Association would be a step backwards in the political development of this country.

published on di-ve.com on 2 November 2012

Also on this blog : RCC kien uffiċjal politiku. 

“Raise in Honoraria for Cabinet Ministers Uncalled For” AD

Press Release/Stqarrija Stampa 9/6/2011

 Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said that the raise in salaries for Cabinet Ministers, as proposed by the Nationalist Government is uncalled for.

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said that “it is ironic that whilst workers were given a miserable 1.16 Euro weekly increase in the last budget, and when Malta’s COLA mechanism is not reflecting real cost of living increases, the same Government is giving a 500 Euro weekly increase to Cabinet Ministers.”

“AD agrees with the Labour Party proposal for a Commission to study Ministers’ and MPs’ salaries. However, we also believe that parliament should be reformed in order that it can become a full-time professional institution, and not one made up of part-timers, many of whom consistently fail to attend parliamentary sittings. We believe that salary increases and adjustments of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament should be related to the quality of the work delivered by office holders and MPs.”

 

“Iż-Żieda fil-paga tal-Ministri tal-Kabinett barra minn lokha” AD

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party qal li ż-żieda fil-paga li ingħatat lill-Ministri tal-Kabinett, hekk kif proposta mill-Gvern Nazzjonalista hija barraminnlokha.

Michael Briguglio, iċ-Chairperson tal-AD, qal li “hija ironika li filwaqt li l-ħaddiema ġew mogħtija żieda miżerabbli ta’ €1.16 fil-ġimgħa fl-aħħar budget, u meta l-mekkaniżmu tal-COLA ma jirriflettix il-vera żieda fl-għoli tal-ħajja, l-istess Gvern qed jagħti €500 żieda lill-Ministri tal-Kabinett.”

“L-AD taqbel mal-proposta tal-Partit Laburista biex titwaqqaf Kummissjoni biex tanalizza s-salarji tal-Ministri u tal-Membri Parlamentari.  Iżda aħna nemmnu wkoll li hemm bżonn issir riforma fil-Parlament biex dan isir istituzzjoni professjonali li tiffunżjona fuq bażi full-time minflok ma kif inhu llum magħmulminnparlamentari li jahdmu part-time u li ta’ sikwit jonqsu milli jattendu s-seduti parlamentari.  Aħna nemmnu li żidiet jew bidliet fis-salarji tal-Ministri tal-Kabinett u Membri Parlamentari ghandhom ikunu relatati mal-kwalita u l-livell tax-xogħol li jagħtu dawn l-istess Ministri u Membri Parlamentari.”