The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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TMID Editorial: An important appeal

Thursday, 30 March 2023, 13:01 Last update: about 2 years ago

Earlier this week, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry made an appeal to the political class, to take note of the serious repercussions of poor standards of governance and unethical behaviour by politicians that are currently coming to the fore.

The Chamber expressed its disappointment with the handling of the “current crisis of standards in public life,” which it said is allowing the country to go through another spiral of reputational damage. “This is extremely unfair on the many politicians and private citizens who abide by high ethical standards and continue to work hard in the best interests of the country.”

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The fact that the Malta Chamber of Commerce, arguably the largest representatives of big business in the country, described the situation as a crisis in itself means that the government needs to sit down and listen.

The Malta Chamber, in its statement, stressed that persons in public office “need to be mindful of the fact that, irrespective of their right to a private life, when unethical behaviour becomes public knowledge, their position in public office becomes untenable. This is why persons in public office should strive to maintain high standards of behaviour in both their public as well as their private life.” The Chamber said that the political price of shenanigans at the highest institutions of the country is ultimately paid by the country as a whole, multiple times over. “It is high time the highest authorities of the country step up and clean up for real.”

The Chamber made no reference to any specific cases, but its statement is more than clear.

It is also not the only employer organisation to indicate that something is wrong. Just recently, the Malta Employers Association’s President had commented on the deficit in governance structures continuing to manifest itself through political scandals coming to light, with the association mentioning the hospitals deal scandal as being the latest. On this latter scandal, we have yet to see any action by the police.

Going back to the point of standards in public life, there are many investigations pending before the newly appointed Standards Commissioner, and they keep on piling up. Just recently, NGO Repubblika had asked the Commissioner to launch to two more investigations. One investigation request the NGO made regards Rosianne Cutajar, and a news report in The Times of Malta that she failed to disclose her "additional" work as an ITS consultant when she submitted her required financial statements to parliament for 2019. Cutajar had mentioned that she was going to take-up a consultant position with ITS to Yorgen Fenech back in 2019, as she spoke of her irritation at not being granted a Cabinet post during their WhatsApp chats.

While on the matter of the chats, Cutajar had also told Fenech about how everyone was “pigging out”, which gives an indication of what was happening behind the scenes.

The other call for an investigation by Repubblika came after news articles in The Shift News, where the NGO asked the Commissioner to look into Minister Silvio Schembri and allegations that he used ministry staff to serve in his political offices, and also to look into whether Schembri may have received benefits from businessmen and contractors who “allegedly granted him the use of their properties for political offices.”

It seems as though a new investigation is being requested almost every week. The new Commissioner needs to work efficiently, fast, and must ensure that political accountability is upheld where breaches were found.

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