19 government MPs stonewall questions from Opposition MPs since re-opening of parliament

Questions about persons of trust and ministries' advertising spend filed by MPs David Thake and Ivan Bartolo ignored


A total of 19 government MPs failed to answer questions filed by Opposition MPs David Thake and Ivan Bartolo, whose questions were about persons of trust employed per ministry and the amount of money spent on TV advertising from 2007 to 2021, respectively. The questions filed by Thake were filed twice, in May and in October of this year, while Bartolo’s questions were asked earlier this month.

15 government MPs have failed to answer a slew of parliamentary questions raised by Opposition MP David Thake about the number of ‘persons of trust’ employed within each individual minister’s relevant domains, a trend that had already occurred in May of this year.

Utilising the same filibustering strategy of referring to a manual issued by the Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary in 2015 as was done in May, none of the 15 ministers answering a fresh set of questions from Thake actually revealed any information about how many ‘persons of trust’ they have employed.

Besides failing to respond to the question about ‘persons of trust’, several government MPs also failed to provide direct answers and often relied on either passing the buck to another minister when a question’s topic happens to involve overlapping domains or requests for more time to be given for the compilation of answers.

Including a list of pending questions from the final sessions of Parliament before summer recess, 108 parliamentary questions (PQs) have been filed. Out of these 108 questions, an analysis carried out by The Shift indicates that 26 of them were not answered at all or were only partially answered.

Another 34 questions were delayed through requests for more time to compile the requested information, with inquiring MPs being told that the reply would be given in another sitting. Out of these 34 questions which led to requests for more time to answer since Parliament reconvened on 4 October, none have been answered by time of writing.

Opposition MP Ivan Bartolo sent out a flurry of questions relating to ministerial spending on television advertising for the period stretching from 2017 to 2021.

Again, just seven government MPs have fully answered this question, while infrastructure minister Ian Borg, minister within the office of the prime minister Carmelo Abela and minister Michael Farrugia provided partial data sets spanning a shorter amount of time. Based on the data revealed so far, a total of at least €2.62 million euros have been spent on TV advertising in the past five years.

Eight other government MPs, including prime minister Robert Abela, have so far failed to address the question, requesting more time to compile the information in spite of the fact that most of these questions were filed before Parliament rose for summer recess. Some of the answers that were given by government MPs for other sets of questions also took on a self-praising tone while partially or fully failing to address the question being asked directly.

A couple of examples of this include PQ22329 and PQ22363. Gozo minister Clint Camilleri and minister within the office of the prime minister Carmelo Abela both failed to answer direct follow-up questions on issues within their domain.

Camilleri was asked about when the tender for the purchase of a fourth vessel for the Gozo channel fleet would occur. The minister for Gozo deflected the question to a previous PQs, a tactic that was used three times for the same question.

The only vague answer given by the MP after the question was first asked eight months ago and every time it was brought up again was to state that “Gozo Channel reiterates that the work being carried out on this tender for the fourth vessel is still ongoing”, adding “the inquiring MP is aware of the pandemic and how it has changed every possible scenario, even though Malta is managing to cope among the best in these circumstances”.

Similarly, Abela was asked about updates in relation to the government’s promise to study living income as a concept to be implemented, an idea that was first brought up by civil society organisations and well-known poverty activist Charles Miceli as early as 2019.

Abela’s answer was to state that he wanted to “remind” the opposition MP that “besides the fact that the government has improved standards of living of the most vulnerable in society year after year, the studies that were carried out are still being considered internally by the government”.

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No regrets and no apologies ar all
No regrets and no apologies ar all
9 months ago

All those who make regular appearances on these pages. I wonder what they have to hide, as they do not answer the questions.

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