The Chamber of Commerce wants the government to prioritise its efforts to lower increasing corruption, abuse and clientelism in the next Budget.
Publishing its annual wish list ahead of the 2024 Budget, the Chamber said the government should introduce robust systems in its administration to ensure that acts of corruption, fraud and abuse are immediately flagged and brought under control.
It also wants the authorities to introduce a demarcation line between political and administrative decisions and for the institutions, such as the National Audit Office, to be allowed to work effectively and to take necessary action.
Pointing out that the ongoing culture of abuse of power and clientelism was putting a heavy burden on government finances, it appealed for more decisive action and zero-tolerance to abuse, mainly “that facilitated by those entrusted with political and administrative responsibility”.
Echoing a similar message by Gozo Bishop Anton Teuma, the Malta Chamber said: “Practices that encourage people to opt out of productive employment, either by taking up public sector jobs requiring minimal effort or by applying for benefits under false pretences, have a destabilising effect on our labour market”.
“Systemic abuses are costing millions in public funds that could easily be invested in systems that would eradicate the possibility of rackets,” the Chamber said.
The business representatives said taxpayer money should be invested in areas of rapid deterioration, such as traffic, shabbiness and proper waste management.
Among the Malta Chamber’s proposals for the finance ministry are the full digitisation of government services with real time tracking to eliminate abuse, rotation of staff handling sensitive applications, automation of customer care services and reform of public procurement, among others.
The Malta Chamber recalled that according to the latest Eurobarometer results, 92% of respondents perceive corruption as widespread in Malta.