The Office of the Ombudsman has reacted strongly to “insinuations, half truths and allegations” made by the Head of the Civil Service, Mario Cutajar, intended to attack and discredit the institution.
In a letter to MPs, Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud said his office wanted to officially object to Cutajar’s comments last month, included in a government publication in reaction to the various cases of maladministration raised by the Ombudsman.
According to Mifsud, Cutajar’s comments show a seriously limited understanding of the role of such an independent institution.
The Ombudsman said, “Cutajar should understand that the Office of the Ombudsman is not some kind of extension of the civil service and under no circumstances falls under his scrutiny”.
“The Offices of the Ombudsman, the Auditor General and the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life are not some tools for the Principal Permanent Secretary to use to better the public administration according to his own vision. These institutions serve the House of Representatives so that it is assured that the same public service is accountable to the people”.
“These institutions neither have a function to implement nor to push forward policies of the government of the day,” the Ombudsman wrote, in another dig at Cutajar.
Mifsud said that Cutajar’s “attack” on the independence of his institution and others similar to it are clear retribution for the many critical reports these institutions are issuing on how public administration is being run.
In this context, the Ombudsman reiterated his appeal to parliament to continue to strengthen independent institutions, giving them more autonomy for the benefit of good governance.
The Offices of the Ombudsman, the NAO and the Standards Commissioner have been harshly criticising the current administration’s mismanagement, maladministration, nepotism and corruption.
You can read the Ombudsman’s letter here.