The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Konrad Mizzi again ignores summons to appear before Public Accounts Committee

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 13 October 2021, 15:16 Last update: about 2 days ago

MP Konrad Mizzi has again ignored a request by the Public Accounts Committee to appear before it to respond to questions about his role in the controversial Electrogas power station project.

This is the second time he failed to appear before the committee, the first time was on 6 October.

When Mizzi had announced his intention not to attend the first time, he claimed on Facebook that "this exercise is nothing more than a partisan attack on the project which shifted energy generation in Malta from polluting Heavy Fuel Oil to cleaner Gas and renewable energy, a project that has brought so many benefits to the Maltese and Gozitan people, as well as to the economy of our country."

After Mizzi's no-show, both PL and PN members who sit on the committee resolved to summon him again to appear in its next meeting, which was held yesterday.

Yesterday, the MP sent correspondence to the committee at 9.45am stating that for the already mentioned reasons related to his decision not to attend the first meeting, he was also not going to attend this one.

PAC Chairperson Beppe Fenech Adami said that Mizzi made a couple of points in his correspondence. One point Mizzi made in his correspondence was that his choosing not to testify in the committee is according to procedure. Fenech Adami did not agree with this and said that practice is always for people to come and testify.

Fenech Adami said that Mizzi is giving a bad name to all MPs and is doing a disservice to the committee.

As another reason, Mizzi made reference to Erskine May (a publication relating to Parliamentary procedure). "Here, Mizzi is wrong and he is not in line with what happens in the UK and what Erskine May provides. The regulations in the House of Commons establishes that the right an MP has not to appear before a committee is not absolute, and Parliament has the authority to order this witness to appear before it," Fenech Adami said.

PN MP Karol Aquilina made a proposal for a motion to recommend that Parliament order Mizzi to appear before the PAC to testify. He said that according to Erskine May and thus Parliamentary Practice before the House of Commons, while an MP can refuse to testify, Parliament can order that MP to testify.

The PL MPs wanted a Speaker's ruling on the situation as they did not agree with Aquilina's interpretation and that such a motion had not been done before in Malta.

PL MP Glenn Bedingfield said that the PN's interpretation is not absolute and, "to be prudent as we are not agreeing with the way it is being interpreted," they would push for a Speaker's ruling on the situation.

The PN MPs did not agree with that way forward. Fenech Adami said: "We have the duty to decide and not abdicate from the powers we have. This committee has a procedure it can adopt. We would be weakening ourselves through your proposal."

Bedingfield responded by saying that they would be strengthening the committee given the lack of local procedure, by asking the Speaker to regulate the situation.

A vote on Aquilina's motion was taken, which did not pass as the PL MPs voted against.

Bedingfield asked the committee to take a vote on a call for the speaker's ruling. The PN disagreed but the vote passed.


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