Ir-rapport ta’ Vanni Bonello u r-reputazzjoni tat-Times u s-Sunday Times

 

Mela l-Allied Newspapers Limited u Adrian Hillman ftehmu. It-Times tgħidlna li laħqu ftehim u li bħala riżultat ta dan il-ftehim ġie fi tmiemu t-tilwim (u kawżi) li kien  hemm bejniethom.

Xfih il-ftehim ma nafux għax din l-informazzjoni nżammet kunfidenzjali.

Dan il-ftehim waslu għalih wara diskussjonijiet fid-dawl tal-investigazzjoni li mexxa l-Imħallef Emeritu Giovanni Bonello u dan wara numru ta stejjer ballegazzjonijiet gravi dwar l-istess Adrian Hillman, Keith il-Kasco Schembri kif ukoll il-kuntrattur Pierre Sladden.

Fl-istejjer kienu issemmew kumpaniji diversi li kien intqal li kienu ġew użati biex jaħbu attivitá illegali diversa.  

Xirriżulta mill-investigazzjoni mhux magħruf għax il-kumpanija Allied Newspapers Limited sissa żammet kollox mistur.

Ma naħsibx li hemm xi obbligu legali li l-Allied Newspapers Limited tippubblika r-rapport tal-inkjesta. Imma żgur li hemm obbligu ta xorta oħra: hu obbligu etiku. Għax kif tista l-Allied Newspapers Limited tkun kredibbli, mil-lum il-quddiem, meta permezz tal-gazzetti tagħha it-Times of Malta u s-Sunday Times of Malta jintalab aċċess għal informazzjoni minn sorsi tal-istat u anke minn sorsi oħra privati fil-kors tal-ġurnaliżmu investigattiv meta hi stess qed iżżomm mistur dak li irriżulta mill-investigazzjoni interna tagħha?

Il-pubbliku għandu dritt li jkun jaf dwar jekk irriżultax li kien hemm it-tixħim u l-korruzzjoni kif ukoll dwar jekk irriżultax jew le li kienet kompromessa l-linja editorjali tal-gazzetti li tippubblika l-Allied Newspapers Limited. Iċċaħdiet ġenerali naħseb li ma jikkonvinċu lil ħadd.

Bla dubju l-Allied Newspapers Limited taħseb li bil-kunfidenzjalitá tista tipproteġi r-reputazzjoni tal-gazzetti tagħha. Wisq nibżali dan mhux il-kaz.

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Permezz tal-arti napprezzaw in-natura u nsaħħu d-demokrazija

Giovanni Bonello.130315

 

Id-diskors li għamel il-bieraħ l-Imħallef Giovanni Bonello intlaqa’ tajjeb minn kulħadd. Id-diskors ta’ Vanni Bonello kien ċelebrazzjoni tad-demokrazija permezz tal-arti u l-apprezzament tan-natura.

Tkellem fit-tul dwar kif permezz tal-arti nistgħu napprezzaw iktar in-natura. Kienet opportunità ukoll biex sellem il-memorja ta’ Maurice Caruana Curran li miet iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa. L-Imħallef Maurice Caruana Curran kien wieħed mill-pijunieri f’Malta tal-attiviżmu ambjentali bit-twaqqif 50 sena ilu ta’ Din l-Art Ħelwa.

Giovanni Bonello emfasizza l-importanza tar-rwol tas-soċjeta ċivili li bl-użu tal-għodda demokratika tar-referendum abrogattiv qed tieħu lura l-poter li tiddeċiedi mingħand il-politiċi li tul is-snin kienu mhedda u rikattati kontinwament mil-lobby tal-kaċċaturi.

Vanni Bonello kien imdawwar mill-artisti li b’ġenerosita kbira irregalaw il-pitturi tagħhom lill-kampanja kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa . Kien f’waqtu ukoll għalhekk il-kumment ta’ Vanni Bonello illi l-ebda delizzju m’hu mhedded mir-referendum abrogattiv.

Baqa’ ftit ieħor. 4 ġimgħat oħra u nivvutaw.  Grazzi lil kulħadd tal-impenn. Għax il-messaġġ qiegħed jasal.

Taking care of tax evaders

HSBC Geneve

 

Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party pride themselves with emphasising that this Government has removed the statutory limitation (prescription) relative to corruption when holders of political office are criminally prosecuted.

It certainly was a step in the right direction. It still however requires the test of time to verify whether it is compatible with the human rights provisions of our Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights as was explained by former Strasbourg Judge Giovanni Bonello in his article Bribery and Genocide : the same? (Times of Malta April 20, 2013)

Such a clear stand against corruption contrasts with the provisions of Legal Notice 256 of 2014 entitled Investment Registration Scheme Regulations 2014 which launched the latest amnesty that can be utilised by Maltese citizens who evaded payment of income tax. Camouflaged through the use of Orwellian terminology as an “Investment Registration Scheme”, this amnesty, as others before it, did not treat holders of political office any differently from other tax evaders. It afforded them the same opportunities to be able to “regularise” their position absolving them from having committed an economic crime.

Apparently, this government considers tax evasion to be a crime which is substantially inferior to corruption. In fact, the recent cases brought to light by Swiss Leaks have revealed the ease with which former Cabinet Ministers have wriggled out of their tax evasion crimes that they had successfully concealed for around 40 years, including when in office.

During all these years, most of the funds which were accumulated in various bank accounts until they ended in an HSBC Genève account, reaped interest at varying rates depending on market conditions, which, as a result, increased the quantum of the undeclared funds. Had both the funds originally invested as well as the accumulated interests  been appropriately declared to the tax authorities in Malta , they would have been subject to between 35 per cent and 65 per cent  taxation in terms of Income Tax legislation. Yet the Investment Registration Scheme of 2014 allows self-confessed tax evaders off the hook subject to a  maximum 7.5 per cent registration fee! They even get a discount if they repatriate the funds! Apparently it pays to be a tax evader.

There are, however, some matters  which are not at all clear, yet.

Before insisting on his imaginary “right” not to be pestered by the press, former Minister Ninu Zammit had informed The Malta Independent on Sunday  that all his affairs were now “regularised”, having  made use of the 2014 amnesty to reap the benefits of his hoard stacked in Genève. He was also reported as having stated that the sources of his hoard was income derived from his professional activity  as well as various deals in landed property.

It is public knowledge that Zammit’s land deals were negotiated through the Malta registered limited liability company by the name of LENI Enterprises Limited of which he was both a shareholder and a director.  It is logical that any income from land deals would not only have a bearing on Ninu Zammit’s tax status but also on the reported performance and possible tax liabilities of LENI Enterprises Limited. In this respect, the  company’s financial reporting would certainly make very interesting reading.  Have its audited accounts been submitted to the Malta Financial Services Authority or its predecessors in terms of law?  Who has certified these accounts? What about the role of the auditors of LENI Enterprises Limited?  Is there the need to revisit the audited accounts of LENI Enterprises Limited due to the fact that at least one of its directors has benefited from the latest tax evasion amnesty?

As far as I am aware,  Legal Notice 256 of 2014 only absolves self-declared tax-evaders resident in Malta from their non-observance of income tax legislation. Other crimes could still be actionable .

Such other crimes would include false declarations to Cabinet in terms of the Ministerial Code of Ethics. There may also be other issues should these result from the investigations which the Commissioner of Inland Revenue is currently carrying out on the basis of the information which is now known.

There is however one important thing which we should never underestimate. The benevolence of the state towards tax evaders has no limits. It knows how to take care of these small details too.

 

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday – 1st March 2015

11 April 2015 : Empowerment Day

empowerment

The spring hunting referendum called as result of a citizens’ petition and scheduled for 11 April 2015 will protect birds. It will honour a basic requirement spelled out in the EU’s Birds Directive, which insists on this protection along birds’ migratory routes on the way to their breeding grounds.

The spring hunting referendum signifies different things to different persons. It is first and foremost a concrete step in addressing a bird conservation issue which has been ignored throughout the years, despite Malta’s international obligations. It will also facilitate access to the countryside for one and all throughout spring. In addition it is also a democratic tool through which civil society stands up to the countryside bullies. When all three achievements are attained, and eventually taken for granted, there will be one lasting consequence: the spring hunting referendum will be the defining moment of empowerment of Maltese civil society.  It will be the gift of present day civil society to future generations.

When addressing Parliament on the abrogative referendum on 12 January, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat recognised this fact and declared that the dominant role of politicians in decision taking is changing (“naħseb li bħala politiċi irridu nifhmu li l-proċess li wassal għal dan ir-referendum huwa sinjal taż-żminijiet. Huwa sinjal li d-dominanza tal-politiċi fit-teħid tad-deċiżjonijiet qed tonqos.”)

On the 11 April civil society in Malta will come of age.

11 April will be the point when civil society realises that, at the end of the day, it is the source of all authority in decision taking structures. 11 April can be the day when this authority is  made use of to rectify past mistaken decisions.  In so doing, civil society in Malta will be giving notice to one and all that ultimately the common good can and will prevail.

When the petition calling for the abrogative referendum on spring hunting was doing the rounds, some thought that it was just another petition, which would be forgotten as soon as it was submitted. However, when the Constitutional Court delivered its decision on the 9 January giving the green light to the first abrogative referendum in the Maltese islands, the message was received clearly by one and all.

11 April means that change is possible. Moreover it also means that change is not dependent on general election results. The dormant authority of civil society is being reactivated.

Last Wednesday, a group of jurists led by former European Court of Human Rights Judge Giovanni Bonello explained to the press that the spring hunting referendum posed no threat to any hobby. In practically all cases which were listed in a study released by the group of jurists, it is evident that the abrogative referendum itself cannot even be applied to the said hobbies. Most hobbies are unregulated, meaning that there is no legislation of relevance to abrogate. In this respect the abrogative referendum procedure is not applicable!

As regards other hobbies like horse racing, the manufacture and letting off of fireworks and off-roading, existing laws and regulations specify who the licensing authorities are, and the rules to be followed. Subjecting these rules to an abrogative referendum would mean that these activities would be unfettered by regulations, if a hypothetical referendum were approved. That could not in any way be construed as a threat to such hobbies or pastimes.

The jurists were replying to the scaremongering campaign of the hunting lobby.

It is pretty obvious that the hunting lobby is not enthusiastic about citizens being empowered to call an abrogative referendum and decide, where applicable, contentious issues. They prefer to discuss issues behind closed doors, where they can lobby and barter their votes for concessions. This is what they did throughout the years and this is the essential background to the present state of affairs.

This is the reason why some months back the hunting lobby petitioned Parliament to overhaul the referendum legislation. In their petition they asked for protection of some imaginary “minority rights” which the Constitutional Court on 9 January, declared as being inexistent.

On 11 April, we will for the first time ever vote in an abrogative referendum called through a citizens’ initiative. We will decide whether we agree or not with the regulations which permit hunting of quail and turtledove in spring on their way to breed. I do not agree with spring hunting and will be voting NO.

I invite you to join me in voting NO, thereby abolishing spring hunting in Malta for the benefit of birds and future generations.

 

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 1 February 2015

Il-ħatriet tal-Gvern …………… logħba ċess

Chess.01

Dak li jiġri f’dan il-pajjiż mhux dejjem jinftiehem.

Uħud minn dawk li l-Gvern immexxi mill-Partit Laburista appunta f’xi ħatra ġew ikkritikati għax jew dehru f’xi billboard inkella għax kienu jappoġġaw lill-partit b’mod miftuħ.  Kritika li fl-opinjoni tiegħi hi waħda redikola. Bħal dak li qallu li mhux kull Gvern (f’dan il-pajjiż) iħares l-ewwel u qabel kollox lejn il-lealta’ politika tal-parti l-kbira ta’ dawk li jaħtar. Anke Lawrence Gonzi mexa b’dan il-mod. Imma l-memorja ta’ bosta hi qasira ħafna. Kultant huma ħafna selettivi f’dak li jiftakru.

Mela lil dawk li dehru fuq il-billboards jgħidulhom li ma messhomx inħatru. Lil dawk li jappoġġaw lill-Gvern jgħidulhom li nħatru biex jitħallsu tal-appoġġ li taw.

U lil bqija?

Mhux kull ħatra li saret ġiet ikkritikata. Anzi uħud mill-ħatriet gew imfaħħra. Bħal dawk ta’ l-Imħallef Giovanni Bonello u l-Professur Oliver Friggieri.

Hemm diversi mill-ħatriet li ħadd ma lissen kelma dwarhom. Dan hu sewwa għax il-parti l-kbira tal-persuni li nħatru (irrispettivament mill-fehmiet politiċi tagħhom) huma persuni serji, kompetenti f’xogħolhom u leali lejn pajjiżna li lkoll nixtiequh aħjar. Għandhom ikunu iġġudikati fuq dak li jagħmlu fil-ħatra u mhux fuq dak li naħsbu dwarhom. Anke jekk hu  ċar li uħud mill-ħatriet ma nafx kif tista’ tiġġustfikhom, bħal dik ta’ William Mangion!

Minħabba l-performance tagħhom fil-pubbliku fis-snin li għaddew naħseb li kemm il-ħatra ta’ Lou Bondì kif ukoll  dik ta’ Jason Micallef kienu żbaljati. Huma ħatriet li jagħtu messaġġ żbaljat. Il-messaġġ li jifhmu in-nies fit-triq hu differenti minn dak li qed jipprova jfiehem Joseph Muscat.

Jason Micallef huwa bniedem tal-partit u l-ħatra tiegħu hi parti mil-logħba ċess li tintlagħab fil-politika kontinwament. Jason Micallef hu wieħed minn dawk il-persuni li Joseph Muscat ma setax ma jaħtarx x’imkien. Dak li ġara fil-Partit Laburista matul dawn l-aħħar ħames snin, inkluż meta seħħet l-abolizzjoni tal-kariga ta’ Segretarju Ġenerali tal-partit biex ġie mtajjar min-nofs Jason Micallef hi prova ta’ dan. Mhux neċessarjament l-aħħar mossa ta’ Muscat.

Il-ħatra ta’ Lou Bondì hi iktar ikkumplikata. Saru diversi kummenti dwarha. Minkejja li kummentaturi bħal Daphne Caruana Galizia qalu li Lou Bondì messu bagħat lil Joseph Muscat jixxejjer dan ma bagħtux. Lou Bondì daqsxejn iktar intelliġenti minn hekk u qed jilgħab il-logħba taċ-ċess hu ukoll. Hi mossa li inevitabilment ser toħrog Lou Bondì differenti minn dak li jidher fuq l-iscreen tat-televiżjoni.

Niftakru ukoll li kien Lawrence Gonzi li ppropona l-ħatra ta’ George Abela bħala President tar-Repubblika.  Ħatra li jekk inkunu onesti magħna infusna qeda b’mod tajjeb u ftit hemm x’tikkritika fl-imġieba tiegħu.

Nistennew u naraw il-mossi li jmiss.