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 

Advertisements

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

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.

Reflections from Carthage

Tunisia-Med

 

At the University of Carthage in Tunisia between Thursday and today the international community has been engaging with Tunisian civil society. The Fifth Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy – Decentralisation by Participation exchanged views and experiences with all sectors of Tunisian civil society: young people, women and trade unionists were at the forefront, with very passionate views on the Tunisian roadmap to democracy.

Why has the Arab Spring in Tunisia provided different results from those reaped in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria?

Yahd Ben Anchour, lawyer, former Chairman of the High Commission for the Preservation of the Revolution, and charged with overseeing  constitutional reform in a post Ben Ali Tunisia, emphasised the fact that the roots of this more successful outcome can be traced to a number of policy decisions in the late 1950s. The then Tunisian strongman Habib Bourguiba had championed free access to education, including higher education. He had, moreover, championed gender equality right from the first days of independence.  Tackling these issues made Bourguiba an exception in the Arab world.

From outside Tunisia, Bourguiba’s personality cult, the large scale clientelism over the years as well as the leadership of a one party-state naturally overshadowed his otherwise significant  social achievements, which are considered by many as the essential building blocks of today’s Tunisia civil society.

Even though a number of Tunisian women are still shackled by tradition, the number of them active in public life is impressive. It is this exceptionalism which has given the Arab Spring in Tunisia the edge over neighbouring countries and consequently the reasonable chance of success.

Mohammed Bouazizi’s  self immolation and subsequent death on the 4 January 2011 brought together all those dissatisfied with the Tunisian regime, leading to its downfall and laying the foundations for the first democratic state in the Arabic family of nations.

The debate in the Global Forum focused on the discontinuity of the electoral process in contrast to the permanence of political dialogue and participation. In a society which has rediscovered its hold over its own destiny, it is emphasised that political participation bridges the gaps of political time and goes beyond political monoplies. All Tunisian participants emphasised the fact that direct democracy reinforces – and is complimentary to – representative democracy.

Power originates from the people, who ultimately remain its sole arbitror. This can be done through referenda, not just to delete legislation but also to propose measures which the elected representatives did not consider necessary.

It is an ongoing debate that sees young people, women and trade unionists together with a new generation  of political activists debating the next steps to be taken by a democratic Tunisia.

It is in Malta’s interest to nurture this democratic development on our southern borders. We are not accustomed to having this type of neighbour!   During a recent meeting with Tunisian Premier Habib Essid, Malta’s Foreign Minister George Vella stated that Malta was willing to support Tunisia’s democratic process.  Back in 2012, in the first months after the revolution, Michael Frendo, then Speaker of Malta’s House of Representatives,  had also been in Tunisia, offering Malta’s  hand of friendship and cooperation to our neighbours.

Some positive developments for a change to our south.

Published in The Independent on Sunday : 17 May 2015

Lobbying risks corruption

 

EU.lobbying

In a democratic society, lobbying is a potentially legitimate activity. It 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, 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.

Free and open access to decision takers is an important matter of public interest. It is perfectly legitimate but ought to be regulated and the resulting information adequately and appropriately disclosed. The difficulty, as always, is where to draw the line. It must be ensured that society protects itself against the corruption risks involved in lobbying when this is secretive and unregulated.

The manner in which Dalligate is unfolding in the EU institutions clearly underlines this preoccupation.  The European Institutions have lobbying rules.  The basic issue of Dalligate is in my view not whether former EU Commissioner John Dalli resigned or was dismissed. Rather, in line with the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, the issue is whether he “acted in a manner that is in keeping with the dignity and duties” of his office when meeting with lobbyists away from the Commission offices, unaccompanied, and such that what went on during the meetings is not documented but known only to a couple of persons. Even if everything said in such meetings was above board, the fact that they were held is itself unacceptable. John Dalli claims, most probably correctly, that he was entrapped by the tobacco industry. Being so naive as to facilitate his own entrapment, it was right that he should go without a whimper. Instead we were regaled with theatrics which have served no useful purpose, not even for John Dalli.

All this is further compounded by the additional very serious allegation that representatives of the tobacco industry met with other senior officials of the EU Commission without these meetings being disclosed and documented.  Emily O’Reilly Ombudsman of the European Union is currently carrying out an investigation at the request of Corporate Europe Observatory on fourteen such meetings.

Corporate Europe Observatory, a watchdog based in Brussels and campaigning for greater transparency and accountability in decision taking, estimates that in Brussels alone there are around 30,000 lobbyists. Compare this to the around 24,000 staff employed by the European Commission as on 31 December 2013 and you get a glimpse of what’s going on in the corridors of Brussels. Lobbying in Brussels is a billion euro industry which seeks to influence and at times deflect political decisions. The regulation of lobbying seeks to place a spotlight on the source of influence and hopefully to counter attempts to derail or deflect political decisions.

There is a continuous debate in the EU institutions on fine tuning the rules regulating lobbying. In 2011 the European Parliament approved an “Inter-institutional agreement on a Common Transparency Register between the Parliament and the Commission”. This register provides for the voluntary registering of lobbyists active in the EU institutions. It is hoped that during the current EU Parliament’s term the registration of lobbyists in Brussels will be a compulsory matter. This may happen when the issues raised by Dalligate are finally addressed, possibly within the next few months.

Closer to home, a Parliamentary Select Committee has concluded its workings on Standards in Public Life. The Select Committee generally did a good job. It produced a final report which Mr Speaker laid on the Table of the House on the 24 March 2014. The report, including the proposed legislation attached to the said report, deals with the behaviour of Members of Parliament (including members of Cabinet) and persons appointed to positions of trust in the public sector (including statutory authorities) primarily with reference to their declaration of assets as well as with reference to a Code of Ethics which has been in force since 1994.  Surprisingly there is no direct reference to lobbying in the workings and conclusions of the Parliamentary Select Committee.

Lobbying, as is normal, is very much existent in Malta too. It would be appropriate if it is addressed by ensuring that it is regulated, documented and disclosed where appropriate. However it seems that currently there are no plans to regulate lobbying in Malta. If we are really serious on tackling corruption at its roots it would be better if the need to regulate lobbying is urgently reconsidered. Together with legislation on the financing of political parties, the regulation of lobbying would create a quasi complete tool-kit in the fight against corruption.

published in The Times of Malta – 21 July 2014

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!

Ngħidu prosit?

Il-Kap tal-Verifika Interna tal-Gvern (Internal Audit and Investigations) qed tiġi investigata fuq allegazzjonijiet ippubblikati mill-gazzetta Malta Today li ħadmet bħala konsulenta u tat pariri lil ditta barranija dwar il-possibilita’ ta’ xiri tal-Casino di Venezia. Il-Kap taċ-Ċivil kellu jagħmel investigazzjoni!

Fiex waslet din l-investigazzjoni ma nafx. Nistennew u naraw xi skużi ser jinġiebu!

Issa ħarġet waħda aħjar! Fil-Parlament intqal li l-Ombudsman (il-Prim Imħallef Emeritus Dr Joseph Said Pullicino) filwaqt li hemm l-obbligu li ma jagħmel l-ebda xogħol barrani kien qed jagħmel xogħol ta’ arbitraġġ fiċ-Ċentru ta’ Arbitraġġ.

L-Ombudsman meta mistoqsi dwar dan ikkonferma u qal li dak li kien qed jagħmel seta jagħmlu.

Dan kollu irriżulta minn mistoqsija Parlamentari ta’ Helena Dalli lill-Ispeaker li ġiet imwieġba nhar is-6 ta’ Novembru 2012. Mid-dokumenti li  gew ippubblikati mill-Ispeaker liema dokumenti jikkonsistu f’ittri mktuba mill-Ombudsman, l-Ispeaker u l-Avukat tal-Ispeaker jirrizulta ħafna logħob bil-kliem jekk il-kliem preċiż tal-liġi tal-Ombudsman huwiex ċar li din il-ħidma (ta’ arbitraġġ) tal-Ombudsman ma tistax issir.

L-Ombudsman il-Prim Imħallef Emeritus Dr Joseph Said Pullicino jgħid li dak li għamel seta jagħmlu. L-avukat tal-Ispeaker jaqbel miegħu u jgħid li l-liġi tagħti lok għal interpretazzjonijiet varji.

In vista ta’ dan kollu u wara li nxteħet dubju li seta kien hemm konflitt mal-kariga li jokkupa l-Ombudsman iddeċieda li ma jaċcettax iktar inkarigi li jagħmilha ta’ arbitru. L-Ispeaker nhar is-6 ta’ Novembru 2012 informa lill-Ombudsman bil-miktub u qallu hekk:

“Jiena tal-fehma li fl-aħjar interess tal-uffiċċju tal-Ombudsman u tal-fiduċja pubblika f’tali uffiċċju, sabiex ikun evitat kull ekwivoku jkun għaqli li l-Ombudsman u l-Kummissarji nominati taħt l-Att dwar l-Ombudsman m’għandhom jagħmlu l-ebda ħidma oħra għall-qliegħ jew rikompens iehor, anki jekk din il-ħidma ssir b’mod okkazjonali.”

Qegħdin tajjeb. Dawk li ġew maħtur biex jgħassu għandhom bżonn ikunu mgħassa huma!  L-ewwel l-awditur intern tal-Gvern u issa l-Ombudsman.

Naħseb li la l-Prim Imħallef Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino u l-anqas is-Segretarju Permanenti fl-Uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru inkarigata mill-Verifika Interna m’huma ser jirreżenjaw. Bil-kemm ma jistennewx li ngħidulhom prosit.

Qiesu ma ġara xejn! Dawn huma l-valuri godda tal-pajjiz.

Franco’s Bill

published in The Times, Saturday July 7, 2012 under the title How to Regulate Party Funding

The Private Member’s Bill submitted for Parliament’s consideration by maverick MP Franco Debono is a step in the right direction. It seeks to lead Parliament to take the first concrete steps on regulating the financing of politics.

Having had the opportunity on behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika to take part in discussions with representatives of the parliamentary political parties and other interested persons, I consider that it would be appropriate to put on record AD’s views.

In the Bill, there are three fundamental issues that need to be reconsidered.

The first point is the proposed law’s enforcer. The Bill takes the cue from UK legislation and proposes the Electoral Commission as the enforcer. In considering this proposal at a local level, one has to note that the Electoral Commission is dominated by the parliamentary parties with one half of its members being nominated by the political party in government and the other half by the party in opposition. The Chief Electoral Commissioner is a public officer nominated by the government.

In practice, this means that nominees of the two political parties in Parliament will be entrusted to police the financing of the political system.

One has also to consider to what extent section 6 of the Public Administration Act, dealing with ministers’ instructions to public officers, would have a bearing on the new function added to the Electoral Commission’s duties.

AD feels that Malta can look towards its success stories – the office of the Ombudsman and the office of the Auditor General – which are functioning as officers of Parliament and report directly to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Being elected subject to the support of two thirds of the members of the House means that both the Ombudsman and the Auditor General enjoy support across the political spectrum.

Hence, appointing a new officer of Parliament responsible for policing the financing of politics is, in AD’s view, a much better solution than assigning this responsibility to the Electoral Commission, which, unfortunately, is another tool of the two-party monopoly on the island.

The second point to be made is that the proposed Private Member’s Bill introduces an element of over-regulation of the political parties. Unfortunately, it also tries to transform political decisions that parties have to take from time to time into complex issues by establishing unnecessary detailed procedures.

AD considers that only two basic issues are to be considered necessary for the registration of political parties. These are the existence of a democratic party structure together with adherence to political principles compatible with a democratic society.

Additionally, administrative information coupled with updated information on party officials who would be responsible for carrying out the duties relative to the regulation of the financing of politics would, in AD’s view, be enough.

Other areas should be left as they are now in the hands of the political parties themselves. The third issue of fundamental importance is the lacuna which the Private Member’s Bill allows relative to anonymous donations.

It is submitted that anonymous donations should be forbidden. If this is not done political parties cannot be in a position to check and certify whether and to what extent the financial contributions by any individual adds up to the amount that must be reported.

The Bill rightly accepts confidentiality as to the identity of those donating small amounts. This is as it should be. But confidentiality should not be mixed up with anonymity as, otherwise, parties will not be in a position to auto-regulate the monies received.

There are a thousand and one opinions as to what the details of the Bill should be. There are those who think that the limits are too low or too high. These details are matters on which it should not be too difficult to find a solution.

During the discussions held at the parliamentary select committee last Monday, another very important point was made of relevance to local council and European elections.

It was pointed out that there have been a number of instances where candidates for such elections were openly supported by bodies that are not political parties. Residents’ associations, band clubs, football clubs and the hunting federation have on occasion presented candidates for these elections.

It was noted that this is an area that should be looked at in detail in order to avoid a situation where such associations collected or received funds for one purpose and then spend part of these funds for political purposes, that is for a purpose that was not intended by those who donated such funds.

The debate on regulating political financing has been going on for quite some time. It is about time that decisions are taken.

 

Is-7 ta’ Ġunju : biex insarfu r-rieda popolari

Illum is-7 ta’ Ġunju infakkru ġrajja meta l-poplu Malti qam. Għolla rasu u l-irvell li irriżulta wassal għal l-ewwel Parlament Malti.

L-Ispeaker Michael Frendo din is-sena għamel diskors meqjus dwar il-ħtieġa li l-Parlament jiffunzjona dejjem aħjar.  Michael, kif ilni nafu għal iktar minn 50 sena, ħa bosta inizzjattivi kemm ilu Speaker. Bħala riżultat tagħhom il-Parlament mexa aħjar. Kien hemm xi okkazjonijiet fejn iffaċċa diffikultajiet bħal meta kien hemm min sema’ lil Justyn Caruana d-Deputata Għawdxija tivvota mod u mhux ieħor. Inċident li wassal biex ġie mwaqqaf il-proċess tal-Kumitat Magħżul tal-Kamra li kien qed jiddiskuti bosta materji ta’ importanza. Materji li ilhom jiġu diskussi imma jidher li qajla hemm rieda li jiċċaqalqu. Għalhekk, naħseb jien, ma l-iċken opportunita ikun hemm min iħoss l-utilita’ li jwaqqaf il-proċess.

Is-7 ta’ Ġunju 1919 wassal lil missierietna biex fl-1921 eleġġew l-ewwel Parlament Malti. Kien Parlament b’ħafna kuluri:  4  partiti fl-Assemblea Leġislattiva u 3 minnhom fis-Senat.

Iż-żminijiet inbidlu u l-Partiti tal-lum li qegħdin fil-Parlament għad għandhom ħeġġa kbira għar-rappresentanza  proporzjonali, imma din il-ħeġġa qegħda hemm biss sakemm teffettwa lilhom. Għalhekk bagħbsu l-Kostituzzjoni diversi drabi biex jassiguraw li bejniethom jaqsmu. Imma qagħdu attenti li jieqfu hemm.

Infakkar għal darba oħra li Alternattiva Demokratika ippreżentat proposta quddiem il-Kumitat Magħżul tal-Kamra biex dak li ġie mbagħbas fil-Kostituzzjoni mill-PN u l-PL flimkien, jissewwa’ . Biex ir-rappresentanza proporzjonali tkun tapplika għal kulħadd. Mhux għalihom biss.

F’Malta għandna sistema elettorali li f’Marzu 2008 ippremjat lill-PN b’siġġu parlamentari extra għall-1580 vot li l-PN kellu iktar mill-PL fl-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali. Imma l-istess sistema elettorali tagħmilha possibli li t-3810 vot li ġiebet Alternattiva Demokratika ma jkunux rappreżentati.

Dan il-PN u l-PL ma jridux jibdluh.

Il-proporzjonalita’ m’għandhiex tibqa’ privileġġ tal-PN u l-PL iżda strument biex tissarraf ir-rieda popolari.

Fuq dan il-blog tista’ tara ukoll is-segwenti :

17/09/2008 : Electoral reform

21/06/2010 :  AD protests in Court on discriminatory electoral legislation

23/06/2010 : AD discusses electoral reform with Speaker Michael Frendo