The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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Updated: AG finds no issue with John Rizzo’s nomination, but finds problem with PN’s ERA nominee

Monday, 15 January 2018, 11:32 Last update: about 7 years ago

The Attorney General has found no legal issue with the PN's nomination of former Police Commissioner John Rizzo to the Permanent Commission Against Corruption, however has found a problem with the PN's nomination of Janice Chetcuti to the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) Board.

News reports read that possible issues may arise with the PN's nominees given that Rizzo was a public officer in the recent past, and that Chetcuti is a PN local councillor.

Government said that after Opposition Leader Adrian Delia submitted the PN's nominations, government asked for advice from the Attorney General due to reservations which arose regarding their eligibility.

In John Rizzo's case, the AG said that a person who was a public official can serve on the Commission, and the Prime Minister will advise the President to appoint John Rizzo to the Permanent Commission Against Corruption.

In Janice Chetcuti's case, the government statement read, The AG's advice is that according to the Environment and Resources Authority Act, a person who holds an elected office, including local councillors as is in Chetcuti's case, cannot be nominated to the Board of the ERA. Government will ask the Opposition Leader to regularise his position. Chetcuti is a local councillor representing the PN in Marsaxlokk.

Earlier today, PN Secretary General Clyde Puli had also said that former Police Commissioner John Rizzo would legally be able to take up the post on the Permanent Commission against Corruption. Rizzo was nominated by the PN for the post, after the Commission was left in limbo for some time.

The Permanent Commission Against Corruption Act reads:

"a person shall not be qualified to hold office as a member of the Commission if he is, or was, a Minister, Parliamentary Secretary, a member of the House of Representatives, a member of a local government authority, or if he is a public officer other than a public officer who is qualified to be appointed chairman of the Commission under subarticle (2):

Provided that where more than ten years have elapsed since a person was a Minister, a Parliamentary Secretary, a Member of the House of Representatives, a member of a local government authority or a public officer he shall not be considered to be subject to the exclusion from being a member of the Commission provided for in this sub-article if after having relinquished any such office he shall have served as a Judge or as a Magistrate for a period of  at least five years"

Contacted by The Malta Independent, Puli held that the aforementioned law differentiates between present public officers and those who held the position in the past, through the line: "or if he is a public officer".

"while in the case of Ministers and others the law says if he is or was, in the case of a public officer it only says if he is. That is the legal advice we have," he said.

"In the past a number of former public officers have been appointed so we shouldn't have a problem."

Puli said that the PN believes the law give the right for Rizzo to take the post if approved, and said that he is a serious person in the fight against corruption.

PD statement

Partit Demokratiku notes that despite the credibility, integrity and good standing of the individuals chosen by the Nationalist Party to fill in the vacant positions on government boards, that difficulties have been encountered.

"Partit Demokratiku believes that the system needs to be adapted to take a third party into account - but the Partit Demokratiku also wishes to be of assistance to the Nationalist Party, proving PD's belief in proactive and constructive politics, and an Opposition which offers a credible alternative government."

"Aside from Philip Micallef still being available to urgently fill the PCAC seat if necessary, Partit Demokratiku continues to put Malta first and has used its network of good-will to source a nonpolitical person of excellence to fill the ERA seat. This recommendation is being put to the Nationalist Party - the other party in Opposition - with the hope that Adrian Delia will show willingness to work with Partit Demokratiku whenever there is a chance to put Malta first and foremost. Therefore the Partit Demokratiku is nominating Alfred Baldacchino, who has accepted the nomination, to fill the vacant ERA seat. Alfred Baldacchino is an ideal choice, he was appointed assistant director responsible for the protection of Biodiversity in the Environment Protection Directorate, within the Malta Environment and Planning Authority until retirement over a decade ago in 2007. His portfolio also includes the responsibility of Screening and Transposition of Laws on Biodiversity (EU Environmental Acquis) and Assistant Director of Enviromental Protection Directorate. He has an extensive environmental background stretching back many decades."

"Partit Demokratiku hopes that the Nationalist Party will look beyond partisan politics and take advantage of this opportunity to source the very best for the job - an individual chosen with meritocracy in mind, who will therefore be objectively beneficial and agreeable for the entire country."



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