[WATCH] Joseph Muscat: 'Up to PBS to sack John Bundy'

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on the Bundy controversy: 'They did not ask me for my opinion and I have therefore not said what I would have done'

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
2 October 2017, 4:45pm
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat: PBS 'did not ask me for an opinion'
The decision whether to fire John Bundy from CEO of the Punlic Broadcasting Services was up to the PBS alone, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

"They did not ask me for my opinion and I have therefore not said what I would have done," he said.

Muscat, who was answering questions put to him by MaltaToday after a visit to HSBC Bank in Zabbar for the launch of a new service, would not say whether he would prefer Bundy to resign, when pressed and rushed off to his waiting car.

Last week, the PBS board of directors published a letter in which it said it had lost its confidence in Bundy, who replaced Anton Attard at the helm of the public broadcaster in August 2016.

On Sunday, MaltaToday revealed that Bundy had circumvented company and public practices and directly signed a vehicle leasing agreement worth more than €500,000.

Bundy was said to have only once alerted the board of directors about the possibility of car leasing. But the contract itself was never green-lit by the board.

The only time the issue had in fact been raised at board level was back on 18 January, 2017, when Bundy referred to the PBS car fleet.

In total, 14 different contracts were signed for a total value of €4,415 monthly, plus VAT: for the contract duration of eight years, the amount totals €500,131. The directors said that the leasing of cars for a period of eight years was “not considered as the norm”. In fact, government procurement regulations for such an amount obliged PBS to issue a public tender.

Additionally, VAT can only be recovered on just that part of the fleet which are commercial vehicles. Indeed the amounts for each car – all Peugeots supplied by Burmarrad Commercials – vary from the cheapest being €230 (plus VAT), to the highest being €600 (plus VAT), which is the CEO’s car itself.

One of the more curious aspects of the deal is that – according to the minutes seen by MaltaToday – one of the cars is for the exclusive use of Natalino Fenech, the former PBS head of news, who in 2013 stepped down from his position after Labour’s election.

MaltaToday has also revealed that the PBS’s board of directors had actually voted on a motion of no confidence against Bundy.

The secret vote delivered a unanimous verdict of no confidence, which was communicated to Tonio Portughese. But ultimately, it is minister Owen Bonnici who would have to assume responsibility for Bundy’s dismissal. Bundy was installed in his position without any formal call for applications for CEO, after the departure of Anton Attard, on a four-year contract.

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Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...