The commercial take government
In the thick of the daily dose of filth, sleaze and scandal that the Labour government is faithfully offering the Maltese nation, a good measure of corruption cannot go amiss. Our eagle-eyed Fourth Estate has newsrooms submersed in fresh revelations, each story barely having time to leave its mark before another one hits the headlines.
It can be a struggle to keep up with all the shenanigans of government ministers, their appointees and cronies and regretfully one story tends to drown out the other vying for the top honours of nepotism and disregard for standards and convention.
In spite of all this competition for a dynamite award, one particular story struck a chord a few days back. Away from the more popular stories of Maltese pastries and the like, the Jimmy Magro case gave us a crystal clear example of how this country is being run.
It is a brutal wake-up call to many who still hesitated over the integrity of repeated calls of corruption. Just to recap, the Commission Against Corruption declared that in the case of Magro, former Labour Party general secretary, it was “morally convinced” that Mr Magro was involved in “a case of corruption or an attempt of corruption” after having asked for money during a tendering process.
Further details emerge from the report tabled in Parliament which reveal how Magro did not mince his words when sending out his message to a potential bidder. He figured that since he was not adequately remunerated in his role, he would require assurance of a commercial take on the successful award of this tender.
His claim was to the tune of 10 per cent on a tender for the purchase of machinery costing over €250,000. The bidder’s response to this request was that if Magro wanted money, he could very well go and work for it! Bravo sir and shame on you Magro – a person of trust appointed by the Labour government.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in soliciting of commissions. It seems that the going rate for commission-taking is 10 per cent. Little wonder then why contracts for the sale or transfer of public land and sale of hospitals have to date not been published. It would not take a mathematical genius to work out what 10 per cent amounts to. Maybe the resistance to making these contracts public stems from the fact that consequent to this, it would be a no brainer to work out just how much is being deposited in accounts in Panama requiring an annual million dollar deposit.
Joseph Muscat’s Labour government is not focused on increasing social housing to mitigate the hardships being faced by those struggling with higher rental costs. Not a government determined to provide free cancer treatment for all at all costs. Not a government in touch with the increasing high cost of living and the ever spiralling rate of poverty. No, this is a government hell-bent on commercial takes from tenders, contracts and dubious schemes like the selling of visas and passports. This government is corrupt to the core and its crooked representatives have the audacity to assume that they are somehow entitled to kickbacks.
The defence invariably adopted by this government’s apologists is the absence of smoking guns. Professing some illusory sense of indignation and moral rectitude, the returning salvo to accusations of corruption is the dearth of actual physical proof of the said hanky-panky in government appointments, selection of bidders and byzantine methods of selection and contracting. Indeed given the adamant stance adopted by this government to release as least information as possible in what is supposedly a transparent democratic society beggars belief. We are witnessing a daily mockery of the principles that lie behind the Freedom of Information Act.
Transparency International’s tumbling ratings of Malta in the corruption stakes speaks volumes as to the energetic race to the bottom Labour has embraced for bad governance. Indeed this very organisation respected worldwide for its independance and autonomous judgements, has once more confirmed that as in traffic, corruption is not a mere perception but a glaring reality that wafts perceptibly around the country.
Enough is enough. If the Prime Minister refuses or is unable to control and discipline his comrades then he leaves the Maltese electorate no other choice. The countdown to his exit has started.
Caroline Galea is a Nationalist Party general election candidate on the fourth district.