The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Due diligence - PL should look at its own transparency record

Thursday, 17 September 2020, 07:43 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Labour Party this week had the cheek to use the term ‘double standards’ with regard to the PN leadership election’s due diligence process, which has now been completed.

Addressing a press conference, PL MP Glenn Bedingfield and lawyer Andy Ellul insisted that the due diligence commission should publish its reports on Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech because “the public wants to know” what the exercise found.

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What they conveniently left out was the fact that both Grech and Delia had already stated that they want to make the reports public.

But, apart from this, we are talking here about the same party in government that has consistently refused to publish important inquiry reports and contracts that are even more important to the Maltese public.

The PL has consistently backed the government when it miserably failed to deliver on its 2013 transparency pledge.

Ironically, the Labour press conference was held on the same day that new Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg refused to give Simon Busuttil the findings of the inquiry into the alleged kickbacks from Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna to disgraced OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Now one might say that the PL cannot control the AG’s office, but then again, we haven’t heard it criticise the decision, like others did.

This was not the first time that an important inquiry was kept hidden. The only time when an inquiry was published was in the Egrant saga, and this only happened after a long legal battle instituted by Adrian Delia. Were it for the government and the Labour Party, the full inquiry report would never have been published.

Similarly, we did not see any Labour MPs or spokespersons urging the government to publish the Electrogas contract, or documents related to the recent revelations that Konrad Mizzi forgave the power station company €40 million in taxes.

They did not call for the publication of the scandalous Montenegro wind farm contract. They did not call for the publication of the Australia Hall and Café Premier deals. They did not even call for an inquiry into these serious matters, let alone for the publication of the findings.

These MPs have said nothing about the way in which Freedom of Information Requests are being rejected left, right and centre, or about the difficulties faced by journalists in trying to obtain information to share with the public.

So why are they giving so much importance to the PN due diligence reports?

Now, we are not saying that these reports should be kept hidden. On the contrary, these reports should be made public so that the Nationalist tesserati can have a better idea of the candidates they are being asked to choose from. Likewise, the public should have a better understanding of the person who will be occupying the role of Leader of the Opposition and, possibly, that of Prime Minister.

But if the Labour Party wants to be credible, it should practice what it preaches. It should first uphold the transparency promises it made all those years ago. Only then will it be in a position to ask the PN to do the same.

 

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