The Head of the Civil Service, Tony Sultana, has still not drawn up and published new guidelines on the use of government cars, including those used by cabinet members, despite specific recommendations by the Standards Commissioner.
Last year, Transport Minister Chris Bonett was caught using his official BMW ministerial car to take his family on a Sicilian weekend break.
Following an investigation, Standards Commissioner Joe Azzopardi said the then-parliamentary secretary had not breached ethics standards as there were no guidelines in place.
He said Bonett could have used “more caution and prudence” and recommended updating the guidelines to regulate such practices.
“This office has an obligation to safeguard more than that which is permissible by law because ethics goes above and beyond this,” the Commissioner said.
So far, the government has ignored the Commissioner and published no new guidelines.
Principal Permanent Secretary Tony Sultana did not answer questions by The Shift on why the Standards Commissioner’s recommendations have not been implemented.
The Standards Commissioner told The Shift in reply to questions that while he stands by his recommendations, it wasn’t up to him to put in place any new guidelines and shifted the onus onto the Office of the Prime Minister.
In the meantime, Bonett was promoted from parliamentary secretary to minister in the latest government reshuffle.
Before entering politics, Bonett was an employee at the Malta Football Association and later served on UEFA’s ethics committee.
After the Labour Party came to power in 2013, he was given a number of government contracts on a position of trust basis.
While serving as SportMalta chief executive, Bonett oversaw a record number of irregular direct orders worth close to €14 million, awarded for constructing a new government shooting range in Ta’ Kandja.
Many of these multi-million direct orders were issued to Bonnici Group when Robert Abela was their lawyer and a business associate of Gilbert Bonnici, the group’s executive director.
Bonett’s wife, Maxiline, a full-time employee of the Lands Authority, was employed as a consultant on a person-of-trust basis by Bonett’s cabinet colleague, Anton Refalo, with the couple taking home two separate government salaries.