Independent political candidate Arnold Cassola has asked the Standards Commissioner to initiate an investigation based on The Shift’s revelations that Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Chris Bonett used his official government-leased BMW for what was a private holiday and not official government business.
In his letter to the Standards Commissioner, Cassola writes that if the actions of the junior minister are confirmed, then “this would constitute a serious breach of ethics and a serious act of ministerial impunity”. This includes the private use of public property paid by the taxpayer and the improper use of a car used for official government work for a private vacation of a private family.
Cassola also asks whether the cars used by members of the cabinet for official purposes in Malta are insured to cover leisure and private business abroad.
Pictures sent to The Shift by readers show Bonett’s ministerial car, in a discreet mode without its GM (Government of Malta) number plates, queuing in Pozzallo last Monday while waiting for the catamaran to return to back to Malta. Bonett and his family were inside the car, with the junior minister behind the wheel.
Upon their appointment, Cabinet members are given an official car and a driver that are to be used for official duties. Until a few years ago, they were not supposed to use their official cars for private purposes, although these rules have been ignored by members of both Labour and Nationalist Cabinets.
But this is the first time a Cabinet member has been seen using his official ministerial car to travel abroad on a family holiday. It is not yet known whether this was in line with Cabinet rules or, otherwise, who authorised Bonett to take a family holiday with the government footing at least part of the bill.
Questions sent to the Parliamentary Secretary asking whether he felt it was ethical to use publicly-funded resources to take his family on holiday and to declare who paid for the vehicle’s fuel while abroad on holiday were not replied to.