The Malta Independent 21 May 2024, Tuesday
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Updated: Minister Falzon must take responsibility over benefits racket – Repubblika, PN

Wednesday, 24 April 2024, 12:27 Last update: about 27 days ago

NGO Repubblika said Wednesday that Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon must take responsibility over the disability benefits racket, and must stop running from the consequences of his carelessness.

In a statement, Repubblika condemned Falzon for refusing to comment on the matter when asked by the media outside Parliament on Tuesday.

The questions were asked by Times of Malta in light of news reported that one of the men accused of involvement in the social benefits racket said that a social policy ministry official had told him that as long as Michael Falzon remains minister, they wouldn't have "trouble".

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“Repubblika condemns Falzon’s decision to ignore legitimate questions about serious allegations of corrupt and criminal abuse in his office,” it said.

The organisation continued that a government minister is obliged to respond to allegations of criminality among his staff, even to deny them.

“The way he gave his back to journalists demonstrates the Ministers' contempt towards the public, which has every right to expect that government ministers do not protect criminals,” it said.

Repubblika said that it was evident from the start that the severe disability benefits scandal granted to individuals without any illness or disability involved high-level political involvement and backing to cover up for ongoing wrongdoing.

“Those complicit in this scandal must face the consequences. And the Ministers who allowed all this to happen under their watch must be held accountable,” Repubblika said.

On Tuesday, a court decreed that there is sufficient evidence to indict former Labour MP Silvio Grixti and other associates accused of organising a benefit fraud racket, which granted severe disability benefits to individuals who were not eligible for such benefits.

In a separate statement, the Nationalist Party said that Falzon’s silence raises more questions over his involvement in the benefits scandal.

“Michael Falzon is obliged to answer the questions raised about his involvement and his office's involvement in the social benefits scandal that occurred in his Ministry,” the PN said.

It said that it is unacceptable for Falzon to avoid answering questions after a person involved in the scandal directly implicated him and various individuals from his office.

“The Minister needs to answer for his involvement, what he knows, and how individuals in a high position within the Labour Party were allowed to operate in a criminal manner so that the party could buy votes in this scandalous benefits scheme,” the PN said.

The Nationalist Party insisted on full transparency and immediate action from the government to restore integrity to the severe disabled benefits system, while ensuring that such abuses do not occur again.

“The Maltese and Gozitans deserve a just administration, free from corruption and functions with integrity. The PN will continue to monitor developments regarding this scandal and insist on transparency and justice to ensure that such abuses by the Labour Party do not happen again,” it said.

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