Why is Robert Abela always hiding the truth? Why is he in a perennial battle to conceal the facts? Why does he keep hiding what he’s been up to?
Because it’s shameful. Because the more we find out about him, the more we fear for our nation’s future.
The Shift has finally won a year-long battle with Prime Minister Robert Abela. Abela fought tooth and nail to keep the contract of his hand-picked Cabinet Secretary, Ryan Spagnol, secret. The Shift fought for the right to know how much Spagnol was being paid – to reveal it to the public.
Spagnol was one of Abela’s principal backers during his leadership campaign. So when Abela won the contest, with a little help from Joseph Muscat and his meddling wife Michelle, he repaid Spagnol handsomely.
He recruited Spagnol to the Office of the Prime Minister. Spagnol’s salary shot up from Salary Scale 5 to Scale 1. Spagnol, a relatively young civil servant serving, was a ‘senior manager’. He had no experience in the Cabinet office. He had no experience at the highest levels of the civil service.
Yet Abela promoted Spagnol to Cabinet Secretary, a post usually reserved for only the most experienced civil servants. But this is Robert Abela. He has no regard for competence, experience, integrity or service. His only interest is to reward his inner circle of friends.
Despite being eminently unsuited and unqualified for the role of Cabinet Secretary, Spagnol was given a massive pay package by Abela.
Spagnol earns €86,000- that’s more than the prime minister himself. Spagnol gets €38,000 in annual allowances, some for work that is part of his job and for which he’s already paid through his Scale 1 salary. He was given a ‘responsibility allowance’ of €13,098.
Abela gave him another €4,851 in “special projects allowance”. He’ll get another 15% of his basic salary as a performance bonus, which Abela himself decides on. He’ll get €4,658 in “car allowance”, another €4000 in “expense allowance” and a further €3000 in “training allowance”.
He’ll certainly need that “training allowance” to figure out how he’ll perform the role of Cabinet Secretary.
This is why Robert Abela didn’t want the nation to know what he was up to. Abela adamantly refused to provide the information. Abela’s pathetic excuse to stop Spagnol’s contract from becoming public was that it was “a Cabinet document” and, therefore, top secret.
The Shift saw through the prime minister’s deviousness. It asked the Information and Data Protection Commissioner to investigate.
It didn’t take the Commissioner long to conclude that Abela was trying to con the nation. “The decision to appoint the Secretary of the Cabinet is not made by the Cabinet, and therefore…the document requested by The Shift would not reveal any information related to discussions or deliberation of the Cabinet or decisions made by the cabinet”.
The Commissioner commented that Abela’s attempt to conceal Spagnol’s contract was unjustified and the contract must be revealed in the name of transparency and accountability.
Abela knew that every decent citizen in the country would be appalled by his shameless abuse of public funds to reward his canvasser. Abela realised that the public would baulk at the thought that a young, inexperienced civil servant could be catapulted from a Salary scale of 5 to a scale of 1 and be burdened with the responsibility of Cabinet Secretary.
No wonder Abela desperately tried to conceal the whole thing.
The prime minister keeps hiding the truth because the truth will finish him off. Abela is still engaged in multiple court cases fighting to stop The Shift from getting their hands on essential information to which the public has a right. But The Shift is winning every single case.
Abela doesn’t want us to know how many million euros he’s paid Saviour Balzan. And for good reason.
When Abela was faced with the disability benefits scandal, he cynically accused unnamed PN MPs of involvement in the criminal scheme. He provided no evidence.
He mentioned no names. He irresponsibly cast aspersions without basis. Balzan’s MaltaToday leapt to his defence. It published a story utterly devoid of any evidence and without providing any names, suggesting that PN MPs were involved and that the Nationalist Party remained silent about the fraud to protect its MPs.
PN Secretary General Michael Piccinino categorically denied MaltaToday’s story. Instead of corroborating its story with evidence, MaltaToday doubled down and said: “MaltaToday stands by its report in its entirety”.
MaltaToday is Abela’s propaganda machine, under the guise of an ‘independent’ media. It is always ready with decoys whenever the prime minister is cornered. No evidence, documents, witnesses, or declarations by persons involved. Just vague, baseless allegations.
That’s not journalism. That’s disinformation deliberately intended to mislead.
The Shift has been fighting dozens of frivolous court cases by Abela’s government and his entities. The Information Commissioner and the Tribunal repeatedly ruled in favour of The Shift. They decided that the amount of money Labour’s government paid Saviour Balzan should be published.
Abela has already lost all the court cases that have so far been concluded. But instead of withdrawing the remaining cases and saving taxpayers paying thousands of euros, he perseveres – out of spite and vindictiveness. He knows he’ll lose the rest of the cases, too, but he would still have inflicted more financial hardship on The Shift in his attempt to engineer its destruction.
By revealing Abela’s secrets, The Shift is a massive thorn in his side. By exposing the truth, The Shift stands in Abela’s way.
Abela will use every weapon at his disposal to crush those daring to reveal his nefarious malignancy.
Abela must inform the public. He has a responsibility to be transparent. He is duty-bound to abide by the spirit of the law, including the Freedom of Information law. Instead, he fights it every inch of the way.
This is not the behaviour of an honest, upright politician of integrity. This is the strategy of a mendacious, treacherous autocrat. This isn’t a leader who’ll save the country. He’s a fraud who’ll wreck it.