Partisan appointees dominate social benefits appeal system

Controlling the umpires means the government can pick and choose who gets benefits, an important tool in a political system that is heavily reliant on clientelism.


The PL government has ensured it is able to control the distribution of social benefits by appointing umpires – the arbiters who decide on disputed cases flagged by the Social Services Department – who are known to be close to the ruling Labour Party.

According to information provided in parliament to PN MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici, Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon said that to date he is using the services of 10 different lawyers, who have been nominated as umpires by the government under the Social Security Act.

The nominated umpires include Simon Micallef Stafrace, the son of a former Labour minister who has been given a number of appointments since 2013; Noel Cutajar, who used to represent Labour on the electoral commission; Vince Micallef, a former partner of Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul’s legal firm; Edward Gatt, defence lawyer for former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, and Noel Camilleri.

The list also includes Adrian Camilleri, a Senior Associate at Ganado Advocates who is related to former Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, and Shaheryar Ghaznavi, a regular on the direct orders list of various ministries and government entities.

According to the Social Security Act, every dispute over social benefits, ranging from unemployment to children’s allowances and pensions, can be referred to an umpire (a sort of arbiter) by the Director of the Social Security Department. It is up to the umpire to decide on the settlement of a dispute and the decision is final.

This comes in the context of widely suspected, rampant abuse of social benefits, which results in people receiving benefits to which they are not entitled. The many ways to circumvent rules include undeclared income and false medical certificates.

Controlling the umpires means the government is able to pick and choose which individuals receive benefits, an important tool in a political system that is heavily reliant on clientelism.

In 2021 taxpayers paid over 1.2 billion in social security benefits, according to a government statement.


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Francis Said
Francis Said
2 years ago

Well this is just one the ways that the Labour Government buys votes. I trust there is a medical specialist/s to examine the medical certificates presented.

2 years ago

Unfortunately, this is only one side of a rather nasty coin with
for example, the Speaker of the Parliament Angelo Farrugia should ensure bipartisan balance and not disgrace Malta, as he did with Ukrainian President Selenskyj and made Malta look ridiculous.

Another side of the coin is the thinning out of judges and the appointment of absolutely incompetent judges like Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg or the already swimming in the mud wannabe Justice Minister Jonathan Attard.

On the edge of the Evil Medal is the nonentities of the police with Angelo Gafá as the lazybones-in-chief.

As glue we have the lying ROBBER Abela with shabby deals and no tax declaration and his propaganda TV.

No wonder that from the EU Mr. Manfred Weber would like to melt down this hot thing immediately and throw out the PL from the group!

2 years ago

We cannot forget that these have that famous database where instantly they will know the voting habits of the applicant.
That is the ONLY parameter. To make sure that all stays in-house , the members are only loyal to the party and the riches they recieve, over or under the desk.

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