Your house is flooded. You contact water services and they promise to send somebody right away. A young man with no plumbing training or experience and with no tools turns up. When you phone the company to complain, you are accused of “attacking the young”. You are chastised for alleging that the “youngster cannot contribute because he is 19 years of age”.
As the water reaches your knees, you plead with the company that you have absolutely nothing against the young. In fact you couldn’t care less what age their employee is. What matters is that he can’t fix your main and your house is still flooding.
The manager gets angrier. “Why are you attacking him for being young and inexperienced? How are we going to get youths into plumbing if you keep attacking them?” By now it’s too late. Your house is ruined.
That house is Malta. And the young plumber a Labour Party councillor and executive member of Forum Żgħażagħ Laburisti appointed “governor” on the Finance Malta Board at the age of 18, by Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo.
FinanceMalta is a public-private initiative set up to promote Malta as an international financial centre. Its aim is to ensure an effective legal, regulatory framework in which the financial services sector can grow. It covers asset management, investment funds, insurance and corporate services.
So the least you would expect is that board members have some clue about finance. But Bartolo’s appointee had barely completed higher secondary education. His CV sweetly stated that he “graduated” from Higher Secondary school in 2019. The young man had absolutely no experience, no qualification and no merit to be appointed to the €2,000 per annum post.
Most were appalled when the news leaked out, not least many other youths envious of the young man’s luck. Except it wasn’t luck, really. His attributes propelled him to his position. First, he is a member of the Labour Youth wing. Second, he is an elected Labour councillor on Bartolo’s district – so any help for Bartolo’s re-election prospects would be appreciated. Third, the young man supported Robert Abela in his leadership bid. And that makes him most eminently suitable. His lack of any semblance of experience or knowledge in finance is absolutely irrelevant.
When David Thake expressed his legitimate outrage at the obscene appointment, Partit Laburista pounced. “For Bernard Grech, David Thake and the establishment of the PN (?) a person cannot serve in public institutions simply because he is 19 years old,” their statement ran. “This is not the first time PN is attacking the young” Labour accused. “The Opposition believes youth are only suitable to enliven the stage or billboards”.
In contrast, Labour argued, Prime Minister Abela appointed the youngest Cabinet in history, at a time when our country is scoring one success after another. Even North Korea’s Communist party would blush in embarrassment at such claims.
If appointing an inexperienced, unqualified person to FinanceMalta’s Board of Governors weren’t obscene enough, Labour stoops lower. It flings wild accusations at the PN establishment (whatever that is), the Opposition and Bernard Grech because of Thake’s justified criticism of Labour’s failure to abide by its electoral promise – meritocracy. Instead of apologising for its blatant cronyism, Labour rubs our noses in its arrogant scorn for basic decency.
The Labour government should be answering valid questions. What skills, knowledge or experience does the appointee have to fulfil the role? What justifies his €2,000 remuneration out of public funds? How was he selected and by whom? Was the opportunity offered equitably to others? Was there a shortlist drawn up and if so by whom and on what criteria? What list of desirable personal attributes and essential requirements were factored into the selection process?
The Labour Party and government have no answers – which explains the Party’s hysterical attacks on Bernard Grech who never commented about the appointment. It’s just the usual diversionary tactics.
As for the government, Bartolo who appointed him claimed that “the law governing FinanceMalta states that there has to be a youth on the board”. Yes, but that doesn’t have to be an unqualified, inexperienced 18-year old barely out of post-secondary education and who happens to be Robert Abela’s backer.
The OPM Head of Communications butted in. “One of the governors should be the Youth Committee Chairman,” he explained. Presumably, he meant the president of the National Youth Council. But the current president of the Council is not Bartolo’s appointee. It is Chiara Vassallo, a young woman with a Masters degree in public policy and strategic management, and a Bachelors in Commerce in economics and public policy. Surely, nobody would raise an eyebrow if she were appointed to the board – which if the OPM Communications Head is to be believed is the one who should be sitting on the board instead.
An 18-year old on a board won’t sink Malta. But the multitude of incompetent Labour cronies irresponsibly appointed to key positions already have – Joseph Cuschieri, Johann Buttigieg, Jimmy Magro, Jason Micallef, James Piscopo, Frederick Azzopardi, Andreina Fenech Farrugia, Edward Caruana, Brian Tonna, Neville Gafa, Lawrence Cutajar, Michael Zammit Tabona, Silvio Valletta, Keith Schembri and so many more. Where are they now? Kicked out, sacked, investigated, arrested, interrogated, condemned, suspected or charged – but all too late. The house is flooded, the damage done.
Minister Carmelo Abela insolently bragged that this is the only government that has lived up to its electoral proposals. If wrecking the country by stuffing boards with Labour’s unqualified, incompetent chosen ones were in that manifesto, Abela would be right. But proposal 17.10 of Joseph Muscat’s 2013 manifesto was: Taxpayers will be given the right to elect their representatives on public boards using an internet-based electronic system. And his famous slogan: ‘Labour, because I believe in meritocracy’.
Joseph Muscat must be splitting his sides laughing at how his Party duped the nation.