Second Public Accounts Committee hearing stalled by disagreement over witness list for Electrogas investigation

PL MPs insist on justification for every witness to be called up to testify

 

The second Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing of this legislature ended with PN MP David Agius calling for a ruling from the Speaker due to disagreement over whether the Opposition should provide a specific reason for every witness that is set to testify.

Following a barrage of tumultuous hearings held by the same parliamentary committee during the last legislature, which will mainly be remembered for disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi’s epic filibustering run, PL MPs insisted on an alternating system this time around.

The PAC’s investigation about a report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) about the Electrogas deal was held in December 2020 and is still not complete. This is the second hearing of this legislature, with the first hearing held on 24 May. From day one, PL MPs started pushing for deadlines.

In a 600-page report on the power station project, the NAO was highly critical of a number of aspects of the project, including evaluation, due diligence, as well as the “risky” and “unprecedented” State guarantee of €360 million given to Electrogas.

In an attempt to resolve the impasse, all of the members of the committee agreed that they will alternate between continuing the Electrogas hearings one week and then investigating a report selected by government MPs the next.

However, the Electrogas investigation still remains without any kind of end in sight, with a waiting list of 84 witnesses yet to be heard, and that’s based on the unlikely assumption that the MPs will stop bickering among themselves.

While PL MPs claimed to be arguing for “efficiency” and maintaining an “expedient time frame”, the session was marked by their continuous attempts to stall proceedings. The PAC hearings in the last legislature were marked by Konrad Mizzi pulling everything from simply choosing not to respond to insulting members of the committee to walking out of the hearing to demand a Speaker’s ruling.

While PN MPs on the committee sought to get approval for their list of witnesses for the Electrogas investigation, PL MPs insisted on amending their motion for its approval to reflect a need to justify each decision to call up every witness and inform them what the questions will be about.

PN MP David Agius and the new chairman of the PAC, PN MP Darren Carabott, insisted that a Speaker’s ruling is needed out of concern that the request issued by the government MPs will limit the committee’s discretion when calling up witnesses as well as the vagueness of what such a justification would even consist of.

PL MPs repeatedly said they have “no objections to the witnesses listed” but nonetheless felt the need to demand an explanation for every witness called and the questions to be raised, which would also be forwarded to the individual involved.

                           
                               
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James
James
18 hours ago

Classic tactics:- Delay, obstruct, obfuscate and then start over again and again.

It is truly no wonder the watching world shakes it collective head in horror at the crass antics of the ruling party to ensure that their beloved untouchables remain just that.

This will carry on until or unless there is enough outside pressure from the various international agencies who have Malta under surveillance to say enough is enough.

viv
viv
3 hours ago

That closing para.

What would be the point of witnesses showing up in person to read answers prepared by labour ‘lawyers’? An exceedingly dumb request that deserves ridicule – and fines for the dumbass who pulled it out of his ass on the taxpayers money.

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