The Malta Independent 17 November 2018, Saturday

Panamagate scandal has left a negative impact on Labourites and floating voters – PL Whip

Sunday, 13 March 2016, 09:00 Last update: about 4 years ago

PL Whip Godfrey Farrugia believes that the Panamagate scandal has left a negative impact among Labourites and floating voters.

He said this during an interview with Newsbook.

The Panamagate scandal erupted when Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi was found to have a trust in New Zealand, which he did not declare to the tax authorities in the required timeframe, and a company in Panama.

He was asked whether Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri ­– who also has a company in Panama – should resign.

“There’s a difference between them. Minister Mizzi is a representative of the people. Mr Schembri is the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. Both are close to the Prime Minister. With regard to Minister Mizzi, it’s the prerogative of the Prime Minister to see how things should be done. Minister Mizzi has already admitted to an error of judgment. He has already said he will get rid of the company and has asked for an audit by the tax commissioner. It seems that he has made a bona fide mistake, an error of judgement, and we are awaiting verification from the auditor to see the facts.”

“The returns regarding MPs’ assets occur at the end of March. Minister Mizzi has always maintained that he had already given them to Cabinet, and that they will be published with the declaration of assets.”

Asked whether it’s acceptable for Keith Schembri not to be audited, he said: “That’s up to Keith.”

He described the strengthening of the economy as one of the major positive points for this government. “There is no doubt that unemployment has been reduced, and this is also a major positive point.”

Discussing the two major negative points for government, he mentioned the loss of a PL MP. He was referring his partner, independent MP Marlene Farrugia, who left the Labour Party during the whole AUM-Żonqor saga. Another negative point is the Gaffarena scandal, he said.  “As time goes by, it is becoming clear that former Parliamentary Secretary Michael Falzon was not involved.”

Asked about what had happened to the so-called Labour movement after three years in government, he said: “Look at me - I am part of the movement. Like me, there are others. Apart from being the Labour Whip, I am also part of the Labour Party’s administration. I am part of the PL movement.”

Discussing standards, he said that ethical standards have regressed not only in politics, but in everyday life. He said that since Parliament began to be aired live, ethical standards have deteriorated.

MP Marlene Farrugia’s constant criticism of the government does not affect his relationship with the Prime Minister, he said.

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