Standards fil-Ħajja Pubblika: għadna nistennew

Is-sit tal-Ministeru tal-Ġustizzja jindika b’mod ċar li l-Att XIII tal-2017 imsejjaħ Att dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika għadu ma daħalx fis-seħħ. Din il-liġi irċiviet il-kunsens tal-President tar-Repubblika nhar it-30 ta’ Marzu 2017 wara li damet perjodu twil pendenti fuq l-aġenda tal-Parlament. Jidher li għad baqgħalna x’nistennew, għax il-partiti politiċi fil-parlament ma tantx jdher li għandhom għaġla.

Il-liġi tipprovdi għall-ħatra ta’ Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Dan il-Kummissarju jista’ jkun approvat biss kemm-il darba jikseb il-kunsens ta’ żewġ terzi tal-membri parlamentari. Fi ftit kliem irid ikun hemm qbil dwar il-ħatra tiegħu jew tagħha bejn il-Gvern u l-Opposizzjoni li, sa fejn naf jien, għandhom ma qablux. S’issa ħadd ma jaf xejn, l-anqas jekk ġewx proposti ismijiet, minn min u x’kienet ir-reazzjoni dwarhom.

Il-liġi approvata tapplika għall-Membri kollha tal-Parliament, inkluż il-membri tal-Kabinett. Tapplika wkoll għal dawk il-persuni maħtura f’posizzjoni ta’ fiduċja (position of trust) fil-Ministeri u s-Segretarjati Parlamentari.

Meta iktar kmieni matul din il-ġimgħa iltqajt mal-Ispeaker tal-Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti, l-Onorevoli Anġlu Farrugia, jiena emfasizzajt li dan id-dewmien biex tkun implimentata din il-liġi dwar l-imġieba xierqa tal-Membri Parlamentari u dawk maħtura f’posizzjoni ta’ fiducja qiegħed jibgħat messaġġ ċar ħafna: li l-Membri Parlamentari m’għandhom l-ebda ħeġġa biex iwieġbu għal egħmilhom.

Jiena niftakar lill-Ispeaker, xi snin ilu, jemfasizza li hu ma kienx sodisfatt mill-kontenut tad-dikjarazzjonijiet tal-assi sottomessi minn uħud mill-Membri Parlamentari. Issa għandu l-għodda biex jinvestiga dwar il-veraċitá ta’ dawn id-dikjarazzjonijiet imma sfortunatament m’huwiex jitħalla jagħmel użu minnhom! Il-Membri Parlamentari għandhom jagħtu kont ta’ egħmilhom, iżda l-fatt li l-liġi dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika għadha ma daħlitx fis-seħħ qiegħed jostakola dan milli jseħħ.

Meta tħares lejn dan in-nuqqas ta’ implimentazzjoni tal-liġi waħdu tista’ tinterpretah bħala tkaxkir tas-saqajn mill-Membri Parlamentari u l-mexxejja tagħhom li jippreferu ma jitqegħdux taħt il-lenti tal-iskrutinjun pubbliku. Imma meta dan kollu tqisu fil-kuntest tar-rapport annwali tal-Ombudsman għas-sena 2017 huwa ċar li dan it-tkaxkir tas-saqajn m’huwiex limitat iżda hu mifrux ħafna. Id-dritt tal-aċċess għall-informazzjoni dwar il-ħidma tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika qiegħed taħt assedju.

Il-kontabiltá u it-trasparenza m’humiex slogans. L-anqas huma negozjabbli. Huma valuri fundamentali li jiffurmaw parti essenzjali mis-sisien tal-istat demokratiku.

Jiena tlabt lill-Ispeaker biex jiġbed l-attenzjoni tal-Kumitat tax-Xogħol tal-Kamra li dan it-tkaxkir tas-saqajn biex ikun implimentat l-Att dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika mhuwiex aċċettabbli. Huwa essenzjali li l-liġi tkun implimentata malajr kemm jista’ jkun jekk iriduna nemmnu li għall-partiti politiċi fil-parlament il-kontabilitá tfisser xi ħaga.

B’żieda mar-responsabbiltá li jinvestiga l-imġieba kemm tal-Membri Parlamentari kif ukoll dik tal-persuni ta’ fiduċja, il-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ser ikollu ukoll l-inkarigu li jfassal kemm il-linji gwida kif ukoll ir-regolamenti proposti dwar l-attivitá tal-lobbying. Dwar din l-attivitá b’implikazzjonijiet etiċi sostanzjali l-partiti politiċi fil-Parlament ma qablux meta din il-liġi kienet qed tiġi ikkunsidrata quddiem il-Kumitat Parlamentari għall-konsiderazzjoni tal-abbozzi ta’ liġijiet. Bħala riżultat ta’ dan Il-materja intefgħet f’ħoġor il-Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika li meta jinħatar ser ikun hu li jkollu jfassal kemm il-linji gwida kif ukoll r-regolamenti proposti.

Il-lobbying hi attivitá essenzjali fil-ħajja pubblika. Jeħtieġ iżda li issir b’mod li jkun assigurat illi d-deċiżjonijiet mittieħda mill-politiċi jkunu kemm trasparenti kif ukoll b’rispett sħiħ lejn r-regoli bażiċi tal-etika.

Il-lobbying huwa ta’ influwenza kontinwa fuq id-deċiżjoniiet li jittieħdu. Huwa essenzjali li dan issir b’mod mill-iktar trasparenti biex ikun ċar għal kulħadd dwar liema interessi jkunu qed jiġu mmexxija l-quddiem. Dan bla dubju jfisser li ikun meħtieġ il-pubblikazzjoni ta’ ammont mhux żgħir ta’ informazzjoni li presentement hi fil-pussess ta’ membri tal-Kabinett u li ġeneralment tibqa’ fil-files – meta tkun miktuba. Din hi informazzjoni li ġeneralment tkun il-bażi għall-azzjonijiet u d-deċiżjonijiet li jittieħdu.

Bla ebda dubju, il-linji gwida u r-regolamenti dwar il-lobbying iridu jindirizzaw u jirregolaw x’jista’jagħmel membru tal-Kabinett meta jispiċċa mill-ħatra, materja magħrufa bħala revolving door policy. Dan minħabba li s-settur regolat mill-Ministru jkollu għatx għal informazzjoni (kunfidenzjali) li dan ikun kiseb kemm ikun ilu fil-ħatra kif ukoll għall-kuntatti u influwenzi akkumulati fuq dawk li jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet. Xi drabi għaldaqstant meta Ministru jew Segretarju Parlamentari, hekk kif itemm il-ħatra tiegħu ikun offrut impieg f’dak l-istess settur li ftit qabel ikun dipendenti minnu jeħtieġ li nieqfu ftit. Dan ovvjament għax miegħu iġorr aċċess akkumulat kemm għal informazzjoni miksuba kif ukoll għal kuntatti u influwenza fuq il-proċess deċiżjonali. Il-linji gwida u r-regolamenti jridu jistabilixxu kemm jeħtieġ li jgħaddi żmien qabel ma dan ikun jista’ jseħħ. .

Huwa dan kollu li qed nistennew. Hemm ħafna li jeħtieġ li jsir imma ma jidher li hemm l-ebda impenn biex dan isir.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : 1 ta’ Lulju 2018 

Standards in Public Life: still waiting for Godot

The website of the Ministry of Justice clearly indicates that Act XIII of 2017 entitled Standards in Public Life Act is not yet in force. This statute received Presidential assent on  30 March 2017 after an elephantine gestation period. It seems that we are in for a long wait as the parliamentary political parties do not seem to be in any hurry.

The Act provides for the appointment of a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. The Commissioner can only be appointed if two-thirds of Members of Parliament agree with the nomination, and as far as I am aware there has been no agreement so far between Government and Opposition on the matter. The name or names proposed to date are not in the public domain.

The Act applies to all Members of Parliament, including the members of Cabinet. Moreover, it also applies to those appointed to a position of trust in Ministries and Parliamentary Secretariats.

When I met the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Anġlu Farrugia, earlier this week, I emphasised the fact that the delay in implementing this legislation on the ethical behaviour of Members of Parliament and those appointed in positions of trust is sending one clear message: that Members of Parliament are not that eager to be accountable for their actions.

I do remember the Speaker – some years back – emphasising the fact that he was not satisfied with the contents of the asset declarations submitted annually by some MPs. He now has the tools to investigate the veracity (or otherwise) of such declarations but is, unfortunately, being prevented from doing so. MPs should be accountable for their actions, but the non-implementation of the Standards in Public Life Act is preventing such accountability.

On its own, this lack of implementation could be interpreted as a reluctance of MPs and their leaders to be personally placed under the spotlight of public opinion. However, when viewed in the context of the 2017 Ombudsman’s annual report, it is very clear that this reluctance is widespread. The right of access to information on the workings of the public administration is under siege.

Accountability and transparency are not slogans and, moreover, they are non-negotiable. They are fundamental values which underpin the democratic state.

I have asked Mr Speaker to draw the attention of the House Business Committee to the fact that this procrastination in implementing the Standards in Public Life Act is not acceptable. Its implementation is a must if we are to believe that the commitment of parliamentary political parties goes beyond slogans.

In addition to investigating the behaviour of Members of Parliament and that of people appointed to positions of trust, the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life will have the task of drawing up guidelines and a proposal for regulations on lobbying activities. This is another ethical minefield in respect of which there was no agreement between the parliamentary political parties when the draft legislation was under consideration in the Parliamentary Committee for the Consideration of Bills. As a result, instead of spelling out the required regulatory regime, the matter was postponed and added to the responsibilities of the future Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, whoever he or she may be.

Lobbying is an essential and unavoidable element of public life. However, it has to be placed under the spotlight to ensure a fuller transparency of the decisions taken by the holders of political office. In addition to subjecting lobbying to clear transparency rules, it is essential that the ethical issues linked to lobbying are addressed forthwith.

Lobbying continually influences decision-making. It is imperative that transparency rules are applied to lobbying so that it be clear to one and all as to whose interests are being advanced and defended. This would undoubtedly include the publication of a substantial amount of information to which Cabinet Ministers are currently privy, which information (generally) forms the basis for their actions and decisions.

Undoubtedly, lobbying guidelines and regulations have to address the issue of revolving doors recruitment, as a result of which politicians may be available for sale at the taxpayers expense. A policy addressing the issue of revolving doors recruitment would also regulate the cooling-off period required for a Minster or Parliamentary Secretary to take up employment (after termination of office) in the sector which was subject to his regulation authority.

This is what we are waiting for. Like Samuel Beckett’s characters in his “Waiting for Godot”. Godot never arrives.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 1 July 2018

Evarist trusts you

evarist-bartolo

 

The probe into the corruption allegations at the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools is a very serious matter. Reports in the press indicate that the invoices, issued for the construction work carried out by the Foundation at various schools, are being meticulously examined in order that information which might be of relevance to the investigation is gathered.

Of particular interest is the news item that the financing of a newly constructed block of flats at Rabat is under the spotlight. The block of flats, still in shell form, belongs to the person under investigation. It is being emphasised that the fruits of the alleged corruption may have financed the Rabat development. The said site is covered by development permit PA1215/15 as amended by subsequent application PA0260/16. The Planning Authority  permitted the demolition of the previous dwelling on the site and the construction of a five-floor residential block, inclusive of a penthouse and a semi-basement garage in its stead. According to the Planning Authority website, the applicant was Edward Caruana and work on the site commenced on the 19 July 2015.

So far, the press, in part echoing the PN spokespersons, have concentrated firepower on whether the Education Minister Evarist Bartolo acted swiftly enough to ensure that the matter beplaced under investigation.

While the obvious course of immediate action is for the police to investigate in order to identify whether the alleged corruption took place or not, in my view the problems run much deeper than that. Essentially, the issue is one of bad governance through the use of the “person of trust” –  a 21st century version adaptation of a system of political clientelism.

A “person of trust” in Maltese political jargon generally signifies that the person has a political allegiance to the politician who trusts him. Actually, however, it should have a completely different meaning: that the person so appointed is beyond reproach, rather than his being in the Minister’s good books. In fact the person under investigation (Edward Caruana) who was entrusted with procurement duties in the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools was a political canvasser of the Education Minister Evarist Bartolo. Incidentally, Mr Caruana’s brother too is a trusted person: he was appointed Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry.  We do remember the manner in which all Permanent Secretaries in office were swept aside way back in March 2013 to be replaced by a team of “persons of trust”.

The engagement of “politically” trusted persons is not a matter peculiar to Evarist Bartolo’s Ministry, or to the government of which he forms part. While it has been going on for a number of years, it has been done on a much larger scale since the 2013 General Election. In most cases, unfortunately, the political trustworthiness of an individual makes short shrift of meritocracy which should be the foundation stone of a serious public administration.

The trusted person mechanism is circumventing the recruitment procedures of the public service, thereby excluding competent and qualified persons for the simple reason that they are not of the required political colour.

Through the recruitment of persons of trust, clientelism is devaluing years of preparation to obtain qualifications. The end result is not just demotivation : corruption and arrogance are the two other most obvious symptoms.

The Ombudsman in Malta has commented various times on the negative impact which excessive direct appointments in the public sector have due to lack of transparency.  Yet he is consistently ignored.

Under the spotlight Minister Evarist Bartolo has exclaimed that he feels betrayed.

We all have the same feeling that those who preached meritocracy are using political trustworthiness in order to ensure that practising clientelism is done in an efficient a manner as possible.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 11 December 2016

Sa fl-aħħar

Standards in Public Life Bill

 

Mela fl-aħħar, il-lejla, l-Parlament ta’ Malta għandu fuq l-aġenda bħala l-ewwel item l-abbozz ta’ liġi li jirregola l-imġieba fil-ħajja pubblika. Wara li dan l-abbozz ilu lest iktar minn sentejn hu ġustifikat li ngħidu “about time”. Jew forsi “aħjar tard milli qatt”!

Ir-rapport finali tal-Kumitat Magħżul kien ippreżentat lill-Parlament nhar l-24 ta’ Marzu 2014. Xahrejn wara, nhar l-20 ta’ Mejju, l-abbozz ta’ Liġi imsejjaħ Att tal-2014 dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ingħata l-ewwel qari fil-Parlament. Wara, nhar il-15 ta’ Lulju 2014 kien ippubblikat fil-Gazzetta tal-Gvern u tqiegħed fuq l-agenda tal-Parlament fejn għandu hemm sal-lum!

L-abbozz ta’ liġi jfittex li joħloq l-istrutturi meħtieġa biex ikun possibli li jkunu investigati imġieba li ma tkunx kompatibbli mal-liġi inkella man-normi etiċi minn persuni fil-ħajja pubblika. Il-moniteraġġ ser ikun vestit f’kumitat parlamentari permanenti kif ukoll f’Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika li jinħatar bl-approvazzjoni ta’ żewġ terzi tal-voti tal-membri parlamentari.

Il-leġislazzjoni proposta ser tapplika għal żewġ kategoriji ta’ persuni fil-ħajja pubblika: il-Membri Parlamentari (inkluż il-Ministri, s-Segretarji Parlamentari u l-Assistenti Parlamentari) kif ukoll dawk impjegati fis-settur pubbliku minħabba li jgawdu l-fiduċja tal-politiċi, dawk li ħafna drabi nirreferu għalihom bħala li qegħdin “in a position of trust”.

L-abbozz jinkludi edizzjoni aġġornata tal-Kodiċi tal-Etika applikabbli għall-membri parlamentari kif ukoll għall-Kodiċi l-ieħor applikabbli għall-membri tal-Kabinett imma ma jinkludix il-Kodiċi tal-Etika applikabbli għad-Diretturi maħtura fuq awtoritajiet, korporazzjonijiet jew korpi parastatali li kien oriġinalment ippubblikat madwar ħamsa u għoxrin sena ilu. L-abbozz l-anqas ma jgħidilna dawn il-persuni ta’ fiduċja kif ser ikunu regolati!

Il-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ser ikun jista’ jinvestiga allegazzjonijiet dwar imġieba mhux etika kif ukoll dwar il-veraċità tad-dikjarazzjonijiet tad-dħul u l-assi li jagħmlu l-Membri Parlamentari, u l-membri tal-Kabinetti jew dawk impjegati f’posizzjoni ta’ fiduċja u dan skond kif jistabilixxu l-Kodiċi tal-Etika inkella r-regoli li jsiru taħt l-Att dwar l-Amministrazzjoni Pubblika.

Għalkemm l-abbozz huwa avvanz fuq il-qagħda attwali xorta hemm ħtieġa ta’ titjib sostanzjali fil-proposti li fih l-abbozz. Fosthom huwa neċessarju li jidħlu għall-ewwel darba miżuri li jirregolaw il-lobbying illi jsir tal-politici f’laqghat kemm formali kif ukoll informali. Regolamentazzjoni illi tista’ issir b’diversi modi.

Imma l-abbozz jinjora l-lobbying kompletament u ma jippruvax jirregolah.

Huwa essenzjali li issa l-Parlament ma jkaxkarx saqajh u li l-abbozz ikun approvat b’emendi fl-iqsar zmien possibli.

Kien hemm diversi kazi u ċirkustanzi matul dawn l-aħħar sentejn li setgħu jkunu investigati kieku liġi ta’ din ix-xorta kienet teżisti. Huwa għalhekk essenzjali illi l-abbozz ikun imtejjeb u approvat u li fl-qasir żmien jinħatar il-Kummissarju ghall-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Għandu jkun emfasizzat li l- Kummissarju għall-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika għandu l-inkarigu li jinvestiga mhux biss l-imġieba tal-Membri Parlamentari u l-Ministri imma ukoll, kif jipproponi l-istess abbozz, l-imġieba tal-persuni ta’ fiduċja li nħatru mill-amministrazzjoni. Huwa mehtieg li anke dawn jirrealizzaw illi anke huma jeħtieġ li jagħtu kont ta’ egħmilhom.

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-intenzjonijiet tajba ta’ Konrad

timesonline 080316

Konrad Mizzi, l-bieraħ waqt Timestalk għamel pass żgħir il-quddiem: aċċetta li d-deċiżjoni tiegħu (anke jekk fuq parir tal-konsulenti Nexia BT) li jiftaħ kumpanija fil-Panama kienet deċiżjoni ħażina. An error of judgement.

Din id-deċiżjoni ħażina imma, ma tistax tħares lejha b’mod iżolat. Trid inevitabilment taraha f’kuntest iktar wiesgħa li jinkludi taħdidiet dwar negożju mal-iktar Gvern korrott tad-dinja (l-Azerbaijan) minn delegazzjoni tal-Gvern Malti magħmula biss minn politiċi u l-assistenti tagħhom maħtura fuq bażi ta’ fiduċja (position of trust).

Huwa minħabba dan li l-eżistenza tal-kumpaniji ta’ Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri qanqlu r-reazzjoni li żviluppat f’dawn il-ġimgħatejn.

Konrad isostni li għamel kollox b’intenzjoni tajba. Imma sfortunatament, anke kieku dan kien minnu, l-ammissjoni ta’ deċiżjoni żbaljat (error of judgement) tfisser li Konrad ma għarafx il-konsegwenzi gravi ta’ din id-deċiżjoni.

Din id-deċiżjoni effettwat il-kredibilità tiegħu, għax diffiċli biex temmen dak li qed jgħid. Għandha effett ukoll fuq il-kredibilità tal-Gvern li tiegħu Konrad hu Ministru ewlieni.

Huwa għalhekk li jiena għidt li l-unika triq li kellu Konrad kienet li minn jeddu jirriżenja. Dan ikun pass kemm fl-interess ta’ Konrad innifsu kif ukoll fl-interess tal-Gvern stess.

Huwa fuq passi bħal dan li tinbena t-tmexxija tajba (good governance). Għax jekk il-politiku mhux kapaċi jerfa’ l-konsegwenzi tad-deċizjonijiet tiegħu, ikun inutli li joqgħod jlablab dwar good governance.

L-imġieba ta’ Konrad u ta’ Keith tal-Kasko

Standards in Public Life Bill

Waqt li għaddejja l-argumenti dwar il-kumpaniji ta’ Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri tal-Kasco fil-Panama tajjeb li nħarsu ftit lejn l-aġenda tal-Parlament.

Fiha hemm item pendenti bl-isem ta’ abbozz ta’ liġi dwar l-Istandards fil-ħajja pubblika. Dan l-abbozz ta’ liġi japplika għall-membri parlamentari [bħal Konrad Mizzi] u għal persuni impjegati in a position of trust [bħal Keith Schembri tal-Kasco].

Il-Gvern ilu kwazi sentejn ikaxkar saqajh dwar din il-liġi għax minkejja li kien hemm qbil unanimu dwarha fis-Select Committee, din baqgħet fuq l-ixkaffa.

Kieku Joseph Muscat serju u verament jemmen dak li qed jgħid, kieku din il-liġi ilha approvata.

Kieku l-liġi dwar l-istandards fil-ħajja pubblika ġiet approvata diġa inħatar Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika li għada it-Tnejn kien jibgħat għal Konrad u Keith Schembri tal-Kasco u jitlobhom spjegazzjoni dettaljata dwar il-kumpanija tagħhom fil-Panama u jiftaħ investigazzjoni immedjatament.

Imma kieku …………. jibqa’ kieku ………….. għax Joseph u l-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern għadhom qed ikaxkru saqajhom.

Michael Falzon vittma?

Michael Falzon 5

Qed jingħad li Michael Falzon hu vittma, għax kellu jirriżenja minkejja li ma għamel xejn ħażin. Huwa stess emfasizza li fl-ebda ħin ma ndaħal, la biex saru l-istimi u fl-ebda materja oħra konnessa mal-esproprijazzjoni.

Kull persuna politika f’kariga eżekuttiva trid iġġorr ir-responsabbiltà politika għall-ħidma tad-dipartimenti li jkunu responsabbli għalihom. Spiss insegwu politiċi jiftaħru bil-ħidma tad-dipartimenti differenti. Konferenzi stampa ma jispiċċaw qatt, artikli fl-ewwel paġna tal-gazzetti u xandir ta’ aħbarijiet fuq ir-radju u it-TV. Anke meta l-politiku ma jkun għamel xejn, jippretendi li jieħu l-mertu.

Bl-istess mod li l-politiku jieħu l-mertu meta l-ħidma tagħti riżultati tajbin irid jieħu t-tort meta l-effetti jkunu negattivi.

Il-politiku f’kariga eżekuttiva jkollu l-għajnuna fil-ħidma tiegħu. Din hi l-funzjoni tas-segretarjat privat tal-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari. Smajna tul il-ġimgħat li għaddew kif il-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari għandhom id-dritt li dawk ta’ madwarhom ikunu persuni li huma jkollhom fiduċja fihom. Il-ħatriet ta’ dawn il-persuni qrib il-politiċi spiss jirreferu għalihom bħala trusted persons li jokkupaw positions of trust. Il-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari għandhom bżonn madwarhom lil dawn il-persuni li fihom ikollhom fiduċja, biex ikollhom min jassistihom fit-twettiq tal-missjoni politika tagħhom. Dan jagħmluh billi jgħinu lill-Ministri u lis-Segretarji Parlamentari fit-twettiq tal-politika tal-Gvern, iżommuhom infurmati dwar x’ikun qed jiġri fid-Dipartimenti u Awtoritiajiet differenti u jagħtuhom il-pariri meħtieġa dwar dak li jinqala’ minn żmien għal żmien.

Allura l-mistoqsija li teħtieġ tweġiba mhiex jekk Michael Falzon kienx vittma, imma ta’ min kien vittma.

X’għamlu l-persuni ta’ fiduċja madwar Michael Falzon biex jassiguraw ruħhom li kien infurmat sewwa dwar id-deċiżjonijiet li kien mitlub jieħu dwar l-esproprijazzjoni ta’ 36 Triq iz-Zekka l-Qadima l-Belt Valletta? It-tweġiba issibuha fir-rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali.

Insibu, per eżempju, fir-rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali, li wieħed mill-impjegati fis-segretarjat privat ta’ Michael Falzon [li minn sorsi oħra jidher li kien magħruf bħala l-King tal-Lands, żagħżugħ ta’ 23 sena] akkumpanja lil Marco Gaffarena f’laqgħat fid-Dipartiment ma’ Direttur Ġenerali u Direttur li issa irriżenjaw. Imkien ma jidher li nżammu minuti ta’ dawn il-laqgħat. Għalhekk mhux magħruf x’intqal u x’ġie diskuss f’dawn il-laqgħat.

Il-persuni ta’ madwarek jistgħu jagħmlulek ġid kbir. Imma jistgħu ukoll ifarrkuk. Skond kemm ikunu kapaċi.

Ikun tajjeb kieku l-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari jifhmu li filwaqt li huwa sewwa li jkollhom il-persuni tal-fiduċja tagħhom madwarhom dawn għandhom ikunu kapaċi għal xogħolhom. Għax fl-aħħar dak li tiżra’ taħsad.

Imbagħad inutli toqgħod teqred li inti vittma.

L-ispjuni boloh ta’ Tonio Fenech

spys

 

It-Torċa tal-lum irrappurtat storja dwar numru ta’ uffiċjali pubbliċi mlaħħqa li kienu qed jgħaddu informazzjoni lil Tonio Fenech, ex-Ministru tal-Finanzi. Billi kienu msieħba f’google group dawn kienu jiddiskutu bejniethom issues kurrenti hekk kif jinqalgħu w jgħaddu informazzjoni sensittiva lil Tonio Fenech xi kultant ankè qabel ma jkun jaf biha l-Gvern stess.

Għal Tonio Fenech bla dubju kienet scoop għax kien ikun armat b’informazzjoni biex ikun jista’ jitkellem “in real time” imma għas-servizz pubbliku hi daqqa ta’ ħarta.

Għax is-servizz pubbliku mhux qiegħed hemm biex jivvantaġġa lil xi partit politiku imma biex imexxi u jagħti servizz lill-pajjiż kollu.  Għalhekk ngħidu li l-lealtà tas-servizz pubbliku hi waħda lejn il-Gvern tal-ġurnata li jiddetermina d-direzzjoni. Is-servizz pubbliku imbagħad jimplimenta.

L-artiklu fit-Torċa jidentifika uħud minn dawn l-uffiċjali pubbliċi b’isimhom. Qegħdin fost oħrajn fil-Bank Ċentrali, l-MFSA (Malta Financial Services Authority), u fl-Uffiċċju Nazzjonali tal-Istatistika.

Dan hu ħażin, avolja mhux l–ewwel darba li ġara.  Kien hemm indikazzjonijiet fil-passat  li dan ġara. Id-differenza issa hi li qed jingħad li dawn inqabdu “red-handed”, jiġifieri li hemm il-provi. Probabbilment li l-provi huma ta’ natura teknika u jinvolvu traċċi elettroniċi tal-emails mibgħuta, kif fil-fatt ġie ippubblikat fit-Torċa.

Dawn sfortunatament huma l-konsegwenzi tar-rwol tal-politika partiġġjana fis-serviżż pubbliku li timmanifesta ruħha ukoll fil-parti l-kbira tal-ħatriet li saru u jsiru prinċipalment fil-gradi l-għoljin. Mhux kaz ta’ Nazzjonalisti kontra Laburisti jew ta’ Laburisti kontra Nazzjonalisti, iżda hi ferm iktar ikkumplikata minn hekk. L-abbuż bl-impiegi pubbliċi imsejħa “position of trust” hi parti importanti  mill-problema. Il-mod kif ġew ittrattati s-Segretarji Permanenti immedjatament wara l-elezzjoni hi aspett ieħor tal-problema.

Sfortunatament, dawn l-affarijiet ikomplu. L-ispjuni ta’ Tonio Fenech kienu l-boloh li nqabdu. Il-problema l-kbira huma dawk li għandhom aċċess għal informazzjoni sensittiva ħafna jużawha kif jaqblilhom u ma jinqabdu qatt. Kien hemm minnhom qabel Marzu 2013 u jkun hemm oħrajn li jagħmluha issa.

Fis-settur pubbliku ukoll, dak li tiżra’ taħsad.

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