The Malta Independent 13 July 2024, Saturday
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‘My only disappointment is that there are customer care officials who can push more’ – Abela

Sunday, 1 October 2023, 13:00 Last update: about 11 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela brushed off the recent revelations regarding the driving licence scandal, calling it a "recycled story that began two years ago through an investigation that was started by the authorities."

The Sunday Times of Malta reported that a Transport Malta racket to help candidates obtain a driving licence leads straight to minister Ian Borg and his trusted workers.  WhatsApp chats obtained by Times of Malta show Borg, a minister's canvasser, and his ministry personnel regularly piled pressure on Transport Malta's director of licensing Clint Mansueto to "help" candidates at different stages of the licensing process. A customer care official from the Prime Minister's office, as well as the Prime Minister's personal assistant and the Gozo Minister's chief of staff also passed on the names of candidates, The Times reports.

Speaking during a question and answer session at the start of the Labour General Conference on Sunday, Abela said the authorities had conducted an investigation into the licencing situation. "Where they found that there were alleged irregularities, they arraigned people in court more than a year ago." He said that the case has been being heard publicly for more than a year in court.

"Where they found that things were done in the most legitimate way, the police didn't arraign."

While speaking, he also took aim at the PN. "I can take the road and say that there are evidently people from the PN who are involved. That might be the biggest mistake I can make," he said, before name dropping Beppe Fenech Adami, and also saying that a PN MP is defending the people arraigned in court. "I could take that road, but I would be doing a disservice to the country if I took that direction."

The police, he said, conducted their work and their investigations, and that the courts will now be the ones to decide over what, allegedly, happened irregularly.

But, he said, "the officials in the government customer care departments who did their job to help people without looking at political colour or other factors, but saw how to help people, as I do directly and as many ministers do who assist the people in general with their needs... are we saying that we should throw away that primary function?"

Abela said that each day people contact him about their medical, educational needs and needs for their children, "things that we can guide people on. Are we saying that I should take a position not to answer my phone?"

He said that it "clearly seems" that Minister Ian Borg was "doing this work that is intrinsically related to part of his functions. Am I to tell him to stop doing that work? I would tell him to keep on as he is in international politics," he said, adding that the MED9 summit was an example of the respect Malta has from its counterparts.

He said his only disappointment "is that there are people in our customer care departments who can push more." He told them to push more to help people. He said that their political adversaries want them not to help people. But, he said that PN MPs ask him for help on a number of things and where it is legitimate they are supported.

He said that in this case there were allegations of something illegitimate and the entities did their work, and that now the court process will continue.



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