The Malta Independent 16 November 2018, Friday

TMID Editorial: How the system works

Monday, 10 September 2018, 11:04 Last update: about 3 months ago

This is how the system works, as told by insiders and as witnessed over the years.

The party in government gets an almost absolute right and freedom to do what it feels like doing. And it inevitably feels like putting people on the national payroll and hang the consequences.

So it goes ahead and does exactly that.

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This is one of the consequences of the Maltese electoral system where candidates build up their own clientele, where parties battle each other for the very last vote and where the party in government then enjoys almost unlimited power.

The winning party then feels obliged to provide its supporters with whatever they want, especially housing, jobs and promotions. This is regardless whether they already have a house, a job and have been promoted. The supporters, like Dickens’ Oliver, always want more.

That is one of the reasons why there is such an abundant stock of empty houses. It is also the reason why, in the aftermath of an election, people leave jobs in the private sector and get listed on the public payroll.

Whatever is piously promised and claimed before an election gets thrown out of the window.

It would be acceptable if the person that is chosen is anywhere near competent, but the second big truth of the matter is that they rarely are anywhere near competent. The huge government machine is thus periodically replenished by incompetents who do not have any motivation to learn and improve their skills. And whatever courses are organized, the fact that they have been selected not for their ability but for the partisan strings they pull, acts as the biggest demotivator there could be.

So while the government machine in Malta remains one of the largest relatively speaking, it also remains one of the most mediocre, inefficient there is. That is why, like incompetents around the world, it bases itself on power and authority rather than on competence and reliability.

It is a parasite on the body national, it is bloated and creates inefficiency, mediocrity and ultimately lack of competitiveness.

A story heard recently, which may have taken place recently or long ago, shows the pathetic heights to which this system can lead.

A group coming from the constituency of a particular minister were told to report for work at one particular place. When the ones who were working there saw this new group enter, they flatly refused to have anything to do with them. They all had the same partisan belief, so it was not a question of different political parties.

So the incoming group had to be rescheduled and spread around. But there was a hitch: the incoming group was mainly made up of eg carpenters while what was needed were clerks. No problem, came the reply, call yourself clerks.

Then an official went around the offices peddling these new recruits. Do you need clerks, the office managers were asked, but even if they did not need clerks, they ultimately had to take them in. End of story.

It is clear that in each and every case it is the political master who is to blame, either for encouraging this pernicious system or for going along with it and not rocking the boat. And for building up votes for the next time they’re needed.

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