The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

GRECO report proves that Muscat is leading a government mired in corruption – Adrian Delia

Albert Galea Monday, 15 April 2019, 20:09 Last update: about 6 months ago

The recently published report on Malta by the Group of States against Corruption within the Council of Europe (GRECO) proves that while Joseph Muscat in 2013 had promised that he would eradicate corruption, today he is leading a government which is mired in this same corruption, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday during a debate on the contents of the GRECO report, Delia spared no punches; saying that the report speaks of a “culture of fear” in Malta and of political partisanism winning over every other principle. He also noted that the report speaks of the police force being used a tool by the government, something evidenced by the recent high turnover in Police Commissioners.

Delia referred to a number of reports which were issued before the GRECO report; mentioning a report by Transparency International, wherein Malta fell to the lowest position it has ever occupied, 51st place; a report by Expat Insider, which saw Malta lose 19 places in the ranking due to, among others, endemic corruption across every sphere; a Country Report for Malta published by the European Commission which he said identified corruption and inefficiencies in the justice system; and a MoneyVal test which Malta, he said, failed for the first time and which could see Malta be put on a black-list.

“This is damage which the government has caused and is refusing to recognise and address to save our country’s reputation”, Delia said.

Delia also referred to the Venice Commission, saying that it is untrue that the government had called the Commission to Malta but that it was PACE – the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – which had done so first.  

EU Affairs Minister Helena Dalli disputed this claim through a point of order, but the Speaker over-ruled Dalli’s point, leaving Delia to stand by his words and continue his speech.

“The report confirms what every other report and what we have said; the government has caught hold of the country’s institutions one after the other”, Delia said.

“Joseph Muscat promised that he would eradicate corruption; today he is leading a government which these reports have concluded is mired in corruption”, the Opposition Leader said.

He said that the whole of the Maltese people was paying the cost of corruption.  He said that this cost is larger than the expenses that the government faces in both the health sector and in the educational sector. 

This means that this government has decided to spend more in corruption than in health and education, Delia said.

“I fear that there are those in this country who have sold their souls and sold our country; the government has gagged people including their own MPs to not speak out”, the Opposition leader said.

Given the outcome of all the aforementioned reports, the Opposition leader said that he felt obliged to table a motion for the founding of an ad-hoc parliamentary committee the main scope of which is to analyse each report and, within three months, recommend in a detailed manner how these reports should be implemented, after which point the necessary reforms must be implemented within six months.

This committee would be made up of five members; three from the government and two from the Opposition, but would be chaired by one of those Opposition representatives.

Delia also took aim at the speech of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who, earlier in Monday’s sitting, said that the GRECO result was a direct result of “irresponsible” behaviour from parts of the Opposition in European fora.

He said that it was surreal that Muscat first spoke of receiving these reports in a serious and structured manner and then immediately trying to shift the blame onto “part” of the Opposition.

He assured that the Opposition, especially when it comes to corruption, has one strong voice and that it was also clear that the PN always acts to defend Malta abroad.  “Our role out of the country is not to protect the government, but to protect the Maltese people”, Delia said.

Answering to the Prime Minister’s allegations that the Opposition was portraying Malta as a dysfunctional democracy where nobody could speak their mind, Delia said that it was the GRECO report and the Venice Commission which had described Malta as a dysfunctional democracy, not the Opposition. 

He also added that the “dirtiest” piece of proof that the government is attempting to block out those who have an obligation to speak can be seen in how a journalist was killed because she was saying what she had to say, and how the Attorney General had refused to give the Egrant inquiry to the Opposition as he did not want it to be in the public domain.

“We need to show, from here, that we mean business and that we need to safeguard our country to save our country and its democracy”, Delia concluded as he tabled the aforementioned motion.

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