NGO Repubblika has said the prime minister’s excuses not to divulge the amount spent on media publicity since 2017 were “banal” and called on him to treat parliament with the respect it deserves.
The Shift revealed last week that Prime Minister Robert Abela refused to say how much money was spent by the OPM on publicity in the last three years, saying it would exceed the “advisory cost limit”. Several MPs told The Shift they had never heard this term before.
The group said these actions by Abela are only permitted in a tyrannical democracy. “The Prime Minister and the government should be accountable to the people chosen to represent the Maltese public in a democratic process. This is a banal excuse when one considers that on 24 March the government spent €15,000 for a press conference on measures related to COVID-19,” the NGO said.
Repubblika said it wondered how much money was spent on PR by Abela’s predecessor, Joseph Muscat, if the process of gathering all the information took so much work. “What is it that Robert Abela does not want the public to find out?”
Questions sent by The Shift to the Office of the Prime Minister asking what the ‘advisory cost limit’ is, when and why it is applied, were ignored. Speaker Anglu Farrugia said Abela was basing his justification on rules which are not found in the Standing Orders of the House and that he had no power to order the prime minister to give a different reply.