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Updated | ‘Unqualified medical appointments involved someone close to Government’ - Muscat
The appointment of four ‘unqualified’ medical consultants involved someone close to Lawrence Gonzi’s government Joseph Muscat says.
29 July 2012, 12:00am
When faced with the Commission's conclusions, the Board Members in charge of the appointments reacted by promptly disclaiming all responsibility for the appointments by withdrawing their signatures.
Since then the Health Ministry refused to disclose the names of the Board Members, claiming Data Protection, a justification the Data Protection Commissioner more recently dismissed as groundless.
Speaking during a political activity in Hal Tarxien, Labour Leader Joseph Muscat referred to the case and said that one of the four medical appointments "involved a person close to Lawrence Gonzi's government," but did not name any individuals directly.
"Things do not happen by coincidence," he added, while also referring to reports that new Nurse and Radiography students were taken on by the Health Ministry on the merit of a 10 minute interview alone.
A Labour source confirmed that Muscat was indirectly referring to the appointment of Robert Cuschieri, son-in-law to education Minister Dolores Cristina, who had his position revoked by the Public Service Commission when three doctors claimed that Cuschieri was not elegible to apply for the post.
Muscat said that such appointments were previously based on both course grades and interviews, while this year, this approach was discarded. "What sort of meritocracy system is this?" Muscat asked.
Muscat insisted that it is time that Malta embraces a truly meritocratic system whereby injustice is made good for, but also that everything is done according to merit. "People do not want to beg before politicians, or have to speak in a certain way to hopefully receive something in return. That time has ended."
Muscat also referred to ongoing scandals the government is currently facing, such warnings by WasteServ auditors BDO that Finance Minster Tonio Fenech's head of secretariat Alan Caruana had attempted to influence the auditing agency to change their opinions on WasteServ's accounting practices.
Muscat said the auditing agency's claims constitute "a very serious and grave state of affairs to take place in any industry" and said that the fact that the auditing agency felt the need to raise the alarm by publishing a letter was cause for concern.
He also noted that the government, through the Finance Ministry and Tonio Fenech, was now defending Caruana to the hilt.
Muscat recalled that Fenech was no stranger to accusations of impropriety. He noted that this was the same minister who flew to watch his favourite football team Arsenal play aboard on a jet belonging to a private contractor. He also recalled that Fenech was the same minister whose former private secretary admitted in court to taking bribes to shield companies from tax investigations.
During his address, Muscat also pointed to government's record in terms of financial management. He reiterated criticism at how the government revised its national debt threshold projections three times in eight months.
He also accused government of toying with numbers to maximise income for this year and make good for its economic mismanagement. He said the income that will be obtained from the Lotto tender concession was absorbed by this year's accounts alone, despite how the income will in reality trickle in over the course of the full ten-year contract period.
Muscat also referred to how the national deficit, instead of decreasing as by 50 million Euros from 2011's deficit as the government claimed it would, actually increased during the first six months of 2012 alone.
"We have an amateur Finance Minister and an irresponsible Prime Minister," Muscat said.
Speaking about the recently unveiled IVF law, Muscat said the Labour Party would be examining the law, while also assessing the situation "in a realistic manner", while keeping studies in mind to ensure that his law will improved upon. Muscat said that Labour will also be gauging how the public will react during the consultation phase.
Muscat also 'invited' the public to a 'Labour Party Congress' which will be held in September. During this Congress, Muscat said, the Labour Party will be carrying out consultations and showing the direction of the Labour Party's roadmap for the economy growth of the country.
He said the 'roadmap' was conceived with guiding country towards creating more work, better work, and ultimately an accessible economy that will allow the fostering of a just society.
In reaction the Nationalist Governemnt issued a statement reiterating its claim of having created 20,000 jobs in the past five years, and dismissed Muscat's criticism as Labour's attempts to dishearten the people. The PN also insisted that projects such as City Gate and the Breakwater Bridge would bring more tourism to Malta.
The PN also said that while Governemnt had only recently tabled a draft bill on IVF in parliament "which will give new hope to childless couples, Muscat had nothing to say on the topic."
Also speaking during the event were Labour MPs Helena Dalli and Karmenu Vella, and Labour Candidate Etienne Grech.
Dalli hit out at the government over its present cohabitation with newly-independent maverick MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orland, saying that while Gonzi had, six months ago, insisted on achieving a solution without conditions, today he found himself with 'a condition without solutions.'
She said that Malta is governed by a Prime Minister who is now required to go before an independent deputy to ask permission before moving legislation in parliament.
"We have a castrated Prime Minister. We have a Prime Minister who is now seeing the fruit of oligarchy. This oligarchy is not something recent but has long been in place," she said, referring to a leaked internal PN 2004 report which she said found that the party was appointing less than competent individuals on the merit of belonging to an internal tightly-knit group.
She insisted that this had not changed, and that the PN Government was still habitually putting its people in key decision-making positions. She pointed out what while MEPA Auditor Joe Falzon was being unceremoniously dismissed, UHM secretary Gejtu Vella has now become a PN party candidate.
She added that recent revelations have also highlighted how the Nationalist Party only managed to win the 2008 election "thanks to the lies of Lawrence Gonzi."
She said that the last debate held between Gonzi and Labour Leader Alfred Sant has become amply clear as what the PN was willing to do in order to win an election. "Today, people are admitting that Labour was right .That Alfred Sant was right."
During his own address, Karmenu Vella hit out at the government's financial mismanagement, despite its 'strong pair of hands' claim. He also dismissed Prime Minister's Gonzi's 'national interest' justifications for delaying calling an election.
"If he truly cared about the national interest, he would have called a general election months ago," Vella insisted.
He also dismissed attacks by the PN that Muscat was 'hungry for power', humorously claiming that the PN seems to have created a new commandment: "Thou shalt not covet your neighbour's government."
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