Three years after assuming power at Castille, Prime Minister Robert Abela still allows his predecessor Joseph Muscat to occupy government property at Sa Maison to run his new private consultancy business.
Abela this week brushed off yet another parliamentary question seeking information about the secret arrangement Abela and Muscat struck for the use of a public building owned by Transport Malta.
Abela shot the question down by simply referring to a previous reply – in the process, avoiding the need to disclose more potentially embarrassing information.
“I have nothing to add to what has already been said in another question,” Abela told Opposition MP Albert Buttigieg.
Instead of giving details on how Muscat is still using a public building to meet clients of the consultancy firm he is operating, Abela merely stated that his predecessor holds no title to the building and is just using it as part of his still undisclosed severance package.
According to the Prime Minister, Muscat is just using the building on his ‘toleration’.
Neither Abela nor Muscat has any title over the public Sa Maison building, and their actions are highly questionable, if not illegal.
But three years down the line and despite the evidently uncomfortable situation he has found himself in, Abela is still reluctant to end the misuse of public property, and he won’t even furnish any details of the agreement.
Despite several parliamentary questions and freedom of information requests from The Shift, the government has, so far, steadfastly refused to publish Joseph Muscat’s so-called severance package.
That package was approved without discussion during the last Cabinet meeting Muscat presided over in November 2019 when ministers gave him an ultimatum to resign following revelations on the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The Shift revealed that in addition to his €120,000 unprecedented golden handshake, Muscat was also given the use of a private office at Sa Maison with commanding views of the harbour and a private vehicular entrance, among other perks.
Nothing of the sort had been made public at the time, and the deal was only discovered by chance when The Shift was informed that Muscat was holding meetings with his private clients – mainly developers and construction magnates – at Sa Maison.
When the police raided Muscat’s home in Burmarrad last year in connection with the ongoing magisterial inquiry into possible corruption related to the privatisation of three public hospitals, his Sa Maison office was also visited by the police.
While Muscat is being handsomely remunerated through his new consultancies, including clients who dealt with the government when he was at the helm, such as the Fortina Group’s Zammit Tabonas, Michael Stivala’s ST Hotels group and other contractors – the cost of office in which he conducts his private business is being footed by taxpayers.
Before Muscat began using the building, the government had even done considerable refurbishment works on it.
Is it that even persons described as being ‘their own men’ still require an uninterrupted power supply, like computer systems – or, at least, a regular winding-up, like mechanical toys, to carry on working?
Total misuse of public funds and property. This is the characteristic of our corrupt government that once promised, good governance and transparency!!!
OBVIOUSLY Muscat is still pulling Abela’s strings. What an emabarresment of TWO failed Prime Ministers.
More proof if proof is needed that joey calls the shots and pulls booby strings to be the puppet he was put in place to be?
1. Is the Director of Revenue looking into whether the market rental value of this property and the value of free utilities, is being included as income in the annual tax declaration by Joseph Muscat, as is required by the Income Tax Act?
2. Is this issue of ‘misappropriating’ public property for personal use without Parliamentary Approval and an open tender, not an issue that should be subject to the scrutiny of the National Audit Office, and also the Public Accounts Committee?
3. Did the Minister of Finance give the go-ahead for the forfeiture of potential income rightfully belonnging to the State?
4. Did the Minister of Finance seek the approval of the Budget Committee for the expenses required to convert the buildings into a private upmarket office?
5. Were the works carried out in point 4 above, subjected to procurement regulations?
6. Does Joseph Muscat still fall under the definition of politically exposed person?
Another example that proves that the PL sees and uses Malta as if it were its own posession or property.
I wonder what claim Joseph Muscat might have to be accommodated in public properties to do his own private business as he is no longer even an MP and I am not aware that former Prime Ministers are to be accommodated with such amnieties like in other countries an retired President has the right to. If so, I think that there must be some legal ground for that, if not contitutionally then by other laws.
Normally, a private person who is allowed to use or say being accommodated in public property for private business is to pay up for that by rent. There is but also another aspect to it, people without capacitý in government or administration are for data protection reasons and security reasons for the work of the government, are also normally not allowed to have access to such property unless there is a separation from that by the rooms occupied.
But well, this is Malta and this is the PL govt and Joseph Muscat is still their leader, unofficially but there are still enough PLers who despite having voted for Robert Abela, don’t give a thought of whether Joseph Muscat is nationally and internationally regarded as a disgraced former PM. That is the mentality of the many PLers, indifference towards those who use them to their own ends and handing out some ‘favours’ to keep it all going.
I have come to not just understand but have to accept that all the things Daphne Caruana Galizia was against, is all the PL is in favour. That is a simplistic description of it, but in essence, it isn’t hard to understand her principles as these are still shared by every person that puts decenca and good conduct above partisanship. Daphne was ahead of her time in regards of her own society, many though are still lagging behind. Although she isn’t there anymore, her spirit lives on and there is nothing the PL can do about it.
Daphne was right in many things, and as things get worse year by year, month after month, day by day, is even more proved right.