The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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PN says Transport Minister’s ‘evasion’ of questions is disrespectful towards Parliament

Friday, 21 June 2024, 12:14 Last update: about 26 days ago

The Nationalist Party has described the 'evasion' of questions filed in Parliament regarding specific infrastructure projects as being disrespectful to Parliament.

PN MP Joe Giglio had asked Infrastructure Minister Chris Bonett in Parliament to state when works started and ended, and for information as to how much works were projected to cost and ended up costing, for a number of particular projects. However, the minister replied with a stock answer which did not answer the questions. The minister  said that the works in the mentioned projects "are part of the government's plan to implement unprecedented investment of €700 over seven years to improve the quality and security of road infrastructure. "Infrastructure Malta continues implementing one project after another that continues preparing Malta for today and the future: projects that governments pre-2013 did not have the will or vision to implement and always looked elsewhere when faced with pressure."

In a press conference on Friday, PN MP's Joe Giglio and Mark Anthony Sammut called out the minister for evading the questions and instead answering with 'cheap propaganda'.

"Unfortunately", Giglio said, Chris Bonett sent him a "cut and paste" response to each question so far and that he is anticipating the same for the other questions he asked, of which there are over 60. He elaborated that the response typically was that the street is part of the government's €700 million plan improve infrastructure, ultimately, "propaganda" with no answer.

Giglio said that this shows a lack of respect towards the parliament, is contrary to the purpose of PQs and is undermining of the oppositions' obligation to keep the government in check. That aside, there is a lack of transparency and accountability and "even mediocrity" with this "cheap propaganda", he said.

Giglio said that the opposition will do its duty and will keep on insisting that proper responses be given, "since the people have the right to know where their taxes are going." He added they are in a scenario where the PN had long-been calling out the inconvenience caused by infrastructure works, from traffic to dust.

Giglio said that whilst projects are good, they cannot be redone shortly after due to lack of serious planning. He reiterated that the PN will not stop here, since those in parliament must have the courage to disclose requested information. He concluded that such secrecy and propaganda show a "lack of seriousness" in the infrastructure sector.

On his part, Sammut said that not even a week has passed since the Prime Minister and Chris Bonett had taken to social media to say that that they will receive the election results with humility and mend their ways. He said, however, that when it came to the facts, the same arrogance that made government lose so many votes persisted and the culture of secrecy continued.

Sammut said that in an earlier PQ by himself to Bonett regarding infrastructure, but requesting other details such as usage of EU funds and contractors, Bonett had answered that this information would take a great expense to gather. And whilst Sammut said that he expects records to be kept on all infrastructure projects, he said that to ask the information about one street shouldn't cause much expense and yet the minister is still hiding it.

Sammut added that PQ's have been posited to various ministers on consultancies and all of them answered that they are appointed according to the manual of public service. "We don't know who they are, however."

Sammut said that this shouldn't occur in a democratic European member state and added that "wherever there is secrecy, it implies abuse and, indeed, one starts to realize that these consultants are not experts at all rather peopled owed a favour by government." He reminded that in 2016 the government had pledged to overcome the traffic problem yet, so far, "all we've heard is about abuse and investigations regarding infrastructure projects, such as the incinerator and the flyover."

Sammut concluded that the PN wants to bring in good governance and transparency, for the people to know where their money is going. He said that it is "absurd" that the government persisted with this attitude even after the results of the recent MEP and local council elections.

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