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Raphael Vassallo

Problem: no money

Both parties have for decades benefited from an incongruous state of affairs whereby no donation – no matter how astronomical – has to be registered.

Raphael Vassallo
30 July 2012, 12:00am
Paul Borg Olivier
I must be one of the few people in this country who did not receive an email from Paul Borg Olivier asking - nay, begging - for... MONEY.

Maybe he instinctively knows that I am simply not much help in that department. Or maybe he figured out beforehand that my answer would have been... hmm, let's just say most newspapers wouldn't have published it, and stop there.

But of course I got to see the email anyway - all over the world wide web, where it went forth and multiplied this week - and my only question is: what the bloody hell was he thinking?

Let's take a closer look, shall we? 'Labour is rich, we are poor,' PBO said... only to be immediately backed by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, who added (on a YouTube clip, no less) that "elections cost money" and that "without your help, the PN cannot cover the costs of the campaign."

Really? And why that is, exactly? Because looking at it purely from an outsider's perspective, a couple of interpretations immediately spring to mind... though I somehow doubt they're the ones the PN intended to impart.

1) If one political is richer than the other, it usually means that it receives more in the way of public donations... which in turn means it currently enjoys greater levels of popular support on a national level. So what better way for the PN to kick off its election campaign, than by publicly admitting that they have become so very unpopular, that even their own donors have finally given up on them? (And while I'm at it, what's their campaign slogan going to be, I wonder? "Vote for us, because no one else in his right mind will even dream of it"? I mean, honestly...)

2) If the Labour Party has fewer financial problems than the PN, it could well be because - how can I put this? - it has managed its own financial resources slightly better. That's what this sort of thing normally means in the business world, you know. And this in turn suggests that - who knows? - maybe a Labour government will manage the country's financial resources slightly better, too.

Is this what Paul Borg Olivier is trying to tell us? And if so: why? Could it be that he is secretly trying to finish what JPO started... and provide the final, killer blow that smashes the PN's electoral chances once and for all?

Besides: can anyone explain what financial sense it makes to pump more of our hard-earned money into an institution that clearly doesn't seem to know what money is even worth?

Here I am reminded of the late George Carlin (the last of the great American stand-up comics, who unfortunately stands up no longer) and his classic take on religion... in particular, his description of God as "all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise... somehow just can't handle money!"

Religion (Carlin continues) "takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more." Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?

Replace 'Religion' with 'PN' (not a very difficult thing to do, I'm sure you'll all agree) and replace 'God' with 'Gonzi' (ditto) and... well, what's the difference? Perhaps the only difference is that, unlike God, Gonzi might actually be able to answer the following question: where does all the money you guzzle up each year actually go? Because last I looked, the two parties have for decades benefited from an incongruous state of affairs whereby no donation - no matter how astronomical - has to be registered, or appear on any statement of accounts, anywhere.

In practice, this translates directly into a liquid injection of funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros from various quarters - mostly big businesses, which for obvious reasons have no interest in making that money visible, either - that, unlike an ordinary taxpayer's salary, all this ill-gotten booty never comes to the attention of the taxman at all.

Oh, and I almost forgot: the Nationalist Party also operates a commercial television station - NET TV - which consistently places next to last in the Broadcasting Authority's annual TV audience surveys. But despite registering a microscopic share of Malta's total TV audience, NET TV nonetheless commands a respectable slice of the national advertising pie: for reasons which are not exactly rocket science material, seeing as the PN is also in government and therefore controls the national flow of goodies, etc.

So what we are dealing with is in fact a constant, never-ending stream of mostly undeclared income... and oh look: it seems to have all simply disappeared.

Do I need to add that, if this were a commercial enterprise we were talking about (and not a political party currently hogging the reins of government)... it would already be under the investigation by the Auditor General, and its financial comptroller quite possibly facing criminal charges over money laundering? No, I didn't think so either.

Meanwhile, instead of offering some sort of explanation or justification - if not to the general public, at least to the Inland Revenue Department - as to how the Nationalist Party so prodigally managed to make hundreds of thousands of euros of other people's money simply vanish a trace, leaving little or nothing to show that it ever existed... what they do?

Why, they simply turn around with their begging bowls, and ask us all for MORE.

Where's the strategic political thinking in any of that, I wonder? Don't all speak at once...

Carmel Vella
Do not give your hard earned, and highly taxed income to any politicians. When they are in power, you will not see any of them coming to you to help you with money when you need it. Save your money.
m borg
Considering that Peter Darmanin only recently resigned his post as party treasurer PBO's statement actually reflects badly on him. On the other hand if admitting of lack of money meaning bad handling of the party finances how can gonzipn expect us to believe they managed the country's finances any better?
Christian Thorn
Problem: no money? No talent either..... and NO MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT!
gerry camilleri
Raphael like always super article, keep it coming please. This GonziPN government is shameless after sucking the country dry and accumulating a mountain of debt they have the cheek to ask us for money for election propaganda!! Maltese people are sheep !!
Christian Thorn
It couldn't be that the chap administering the country's finances be also managing id-Dar Centrali's income? Maybe PBO can get the help of the ex-PN Cashier and start organising figolla baking and coffee mornings that had Nutar Toni Abela fill up his pockets with thousands and thousands of liri PN donations.....
Jonathan Camilleri
The party funding law was being discussed by the House Committee (PN) earlier this month, however, we just experience a bit of a slow tyre when it comes to enacting legislation. Perhaps this diligence is due to the stakeholder management, which sometimes takes surprisingly unilateral decisions. For example the enactment of IVF rules out options because "the Church wants it to be that way", and, the divorce law took a few months just to be discussed. Isn't all this bureaucracy a show of public relations? I mean other legislation does not get all this limelight. http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120702/local/house-committee-resumes-debate-on-party-funding-law.426884.
Ethelbert Scehmebri
We must never forget the PN MPs going life on NET TV and getting thousands of Lm and € from their inside pockets while telling us that they collected those in just few hrs in a coffee morning !!... Yes sure as if families and pensioners afford to donate that kind of money !! Accountability fot the PN was always a mysteries thing that never ever followed even and especially with our public money ! So PBO if you want money just go ask your usual buddies.. or they too are smelling that the PN is in a tragic downfall !!
GRACE PAVIA
"Vote for us, because no one else in his right mind will even dream of it"? I mean, honestly...)" Good line there Raphael.
Tony Fenech
Mr.Raphaerl Vassallo again hit the nail on the head, say no more, brilliant
Tony Fenech
Sur Giovanni DeMartino dik il kitba kienet mehuda 5 March 2012 - 12:22 Malta Today. Veru? Jien naf min int, imma veru kienet mehuda u jien niskuza ruhi la hadu zball, imma veru li kienet miktuba hekk? Issa allura jien nirtira ghax kien hemm zball. La kienet miktuba hekk, kien hemm zball. Imma taqbis l-argument ta qabel ghalhekk ghadlekk li inti kont tahdem mal Gvern ghax kont naf min int. Qlajt transfers bhala xhiex, sirt kennies, mghaluq go kamra minghajr telephone jew skrivanijja bhal ma gralu haddiehor? 1987 Per Ezampju. Issa jekk trid nurik link fuqek li gibt jien li Malta Today ma gabuhiex ghax kienet mehuda min gazzetta ohra nurihielek jew igibuha huma jekk iridu, kulhadd jafek il-Mosta diga ghadlek u int wiehed li l-Mostin saru delluzi bil gideb li tikteb il hin kollu fuq blogs ghax minghaliek li kont teacher kulhadd ghalhiek injorant, int fanfarun mil kbar ghax hlief tikritika min jikteb xi kelma hazina bil-Malti, ahjar tara kemm bghata u qieghed ibghati l-poplu b'dejn hafna mimlijien , ara int ok, hadd ma jista jlahhaq mal hajja. ghalhekk jien dejjem nghidlek int wiehed mil protagonisti li L-Mosta ghanda maggoranza Laburista ghax hlief gideb u valenu ma tohrog mil kitba tieghek u n-nies mghadomx cwiec, il-but ihossu mhux il gideb li tikteb int