Would it not be great if it just rained money from the sky? All those inverted umbrellas trying to catch wads of cash floating gently to the ground would be quite a sight. It is the stuff of dreams really.
On the other hand, if you are a university student at Fresher’s Week, it is the stuff of a marketing gimmick. A balloon full of cash burst over a crowd of enthusiastic students ready to grab a fistful of dreams.
That’s what happened over at the new Campus Hub yesterday and the event was a huge success judging by the size of the crowd of automatons that turned up for the experiment. By the time they reach tertiary education you would think that our youth should be spared the moral lessons such as the one that tells them that money is the fruit of hard work and does not grow on fantastic trees. You would think.
Nevertheless, this is Malta of the fast public buck where Fagin’s lesson about having “in the bank large amounts” is possibly the only constant left. Forget hard-earned salaries or competitive entrepreneurship. You need to learn that the only way to get your hands on the dosh is by picking a pocket or two.
There it is again… the nation of thieves and pickpockets. What use is a university diploma if at the end of the day all you need is a network of connections in the right places? Plug into the huge pipe that is public funding and Syke’s your uncle.
This week’s big news of the Marsa Junction Scandal sits right there on top of the dubious cases of public procurement tainted with shady deals that end up with public money in private pockets for all the wrong reasons.
Or take for example the fast ferry companies who have now cut their schedules down to the bare minimum and will only provide a good service if they are given the right subsidy. What essentially happened there is that two companies had agreed to provide a service at competitive rates but are now choosing to hold the public to ransom and demand payment of a subsidy beyond the rules of open competition.
Procurement is like money from the sky. You do not have to excel in anything. You do not even have to be competitive in a mediocre way. You just need connections.
Road works, a fleet of cars for the judiciary, transport, health services, you name it. Where there is a possibility of a public contract there is a possibility of money falling from the sky. The rainmakers are protected by a government and police that either feign ignorance or decide not to collaborate.
Thankfully, some of the funds that have been illicitly diverted into private pockets also derive from the European Union, which is where the European Public Prosecutor’s Office comes in. Essentially you may, as a nation, not care whether the best part of public monies are being plundered by the thieving elite but this may not happen if part of those funds come from the EU.
Unfortunately, the EPPO’s work relies on collaboration by the local arm of the law and that is where once again we are slipping. You might remember the visit to Malta by the head of the newly established Office. At the time, she had complained that it is difficult to know who should be doing what in Malta when it comes to combatting crime. The European Public Prosecutor was bounced around from one office to another. The problems are still there.
It is raining money in tal-Qroqq. Meanwhile, just to find some peace of mind, we had better learn to pick a pocket or two.