PAC: Muscat stalls while labeling committee questions ‘outside its remit’

Disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee for the third time as a witness as the committee continued to examine the Auditor General’s ElectroGas report on Tuesday afternoon.

In the meeting, which was characterised by bickering between the Labour and Nationalist Party committee members, Muscat prefaced most of his answers to the committee’s questions with “this is outside the PAC’s remit”, stalling and avoiding direct answers to questions levelled at him by committee chair Darren Carabott.

When asked about his lack of action on former energy minister Konrad Mizzi and former chief of staff Keith Schembri following accusations of receiving kickbacks from the energy deal which surfaced in 2016, Muscat said that they both paid the political price.

Despite the allegations of corruption surrounding Mizzi, Muscat said he kept him on as he was still “the best person” when it came to public-private partnership deals, citing his work with Deloitte while based in London as justification.

Muscat said he stood by a 2016 comment dismissing claims that Mizzi’s transferring of his Panama company to New Zealand on the same day that Gasol sold its entire shareholding to the Electrogas Consortium was a coincidence too far, “hogwash”.

Asked for his opinion on Electrogas Consortium director and alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination mastermind Yorgen Fenech’s attempts at hiding a €16 million “success fee” by changing its description to a “development fee” on invoices, Muscat dismissed them as “practically the same thing”.

Commenting on when he first found out about the email from Fenech requesting for the change in invoicing, Muscat stuck to his standard answer of “whenever it came out in the public domain”.

The meeting could be easily characterised as a political shouting match between the members, with Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo claiming that committee chair and opposition MP Darren Carabott was acting as “judge, jury and executioner” through his line of questioning.

Muscat was visibly amused at the bickering, which took up a substantial amount of time from what amounted to a two-hour session. While the members argued, he flashed a sarcastic smile at his personal assistant Mark Farrugia.

Close to the end of the committee’s meeting, Bartolo challenged opposition committee members to request a National Statistics Office report detailing a cost-benefit analysis of the deal, watering down the larger significance of the energy deal fraught with allegations of corruption.

At the last PAC meeting on 27 June, Muscat took the offensive in what was his second hearing in front of the committee. At that meeting, Muscat told Carabott “I could take you anytime, anywhere,” accusing Carabott of chairing the meeting in an overly partisan way.

The clash followed repeated questions from Carabott asking Muscat whether he approved of comments that disgraced former energy minister Konrad Mizzi made to former chief of staff Keith Schembri to the effect that “I want to do what you do, because everything you touch turns into gold”.

As this Tuesday’s committee was adjourning, Muscat claimed he was unavailable to appear next week but sarcastically invited Carabott to “come and do the meeting with me at the beach”, further telling him that the former PM’s challenge to take on Carabott “anytime, anywhere” at the last PAC meeting served to increase Carabott’s popularity.

Carabott proposed that the committee would instead meet in two weeks’ time, on 25 July, pending confirmation from Muscat and amid protests from Labour Party committee members given that Parliament will have risen for the summer recess by then.

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saviour mamo
saviour mamo
2 months ago

If Joseph Muscat was genuine he should have asked the police to investigate Mizzi and Schembri for any wrongdoing.

Joe l ghasfur
Joe l ghasfur
2 months ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

Trid tkun veru injorant u stupidu biex tasal temen li dal giddieb qed jghid nitfa verita.
Darba hu stess qal li lil popolin bi ftit karawett tixtrih u siehbu Zammit Lewis ghajar lil popolin Gahan. Ma qallux hazin ghax veru bi 100 euro jixtru il voti qabel l elezjoni. Wara il Gahan joqghod jeqred u igerger ghax ma jistax ilahaq mal hajja imlew pajjizna bic cheap labour biex tinqeda l isptar miraklu , kullimkien stagnat bit traffic.
Qum mir raqda li qieghed fiha ja Gahan u iftah ghajnejk ghax fi ftit taz zmien iehor kollox se titlef.

2 months ago
Reply to  Joe l ghasfur

Qed johlom li se jerga isir ministru !!!!

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