It’s a sacrifice serving the State, but not one justifying offshore

Irrespective of the current controversy, Keith Schembri sacrificed a lot of his time and that of his family’s for the country. But he cannot invoke family to defend inappropriate fiscal arrangements that warrant his resignation

Schembri (centre) must be in a difficult position, having invested so much of his life to what he must perceive as being good for his country. But it remains a mystery as to why he, along with Konrad Mizzi, is unable to comprehend why his offshore fiscal arrangements are unbecoming for a servant of the republic.
Schembri (centre) must be in a difficult position, having invested so much of his life to what he must perceive as being good for his country. But it remains a mystery as to why he, along with Konrad Mizzi, is unable to comprehend why his offshore fiscal arrangements are unbecoming for a servant of the republic.

The prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri justified his Panama offshore company and NZ trust by arguing that “like every father, he acted in a way to ensure that his children enjoy a better life than him” – he went one step further than Konrad Mizzi, whose trust plans he described as an exercise in “family planning”.

Schembri is entitled to defend himself from the accusations leveled against him, even if these in themselves do not change the reason why his position is judged untenable by people like me, who believe that those in official positions – let alone that of chief of staff – should not have offshore companies in “tax havens”, especially when these are formed while they are serving in office. 

The undisputed facts show that Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri opened two offshore companies in Panama while in office and sought to open an account in foreign banks to deposit monies generated through their companies.

Schembri must be in a difficult position, having invested so much of his life to what he must perceive as being good for his country.

It is certainly most inappropriate to use one’s family while answering to charges of political impropriety, truly reminiscent of the trait of “amoral familism” found in societies where the interests of the family prevail over that of the citizenry.

Most parents in Malta do not dream of opening offshore companies and bank accounts in different parts of the globe to make sure their children “have a better future”. Their taxes deducted from their salary, they save it or spend it while on holiday or to refurbish their homes. Money is an important aspect of life, but even then life is not just about money. Parents want to see their children living without hardships, and want to assist them to live in comfort. And some parents want to instill values in their children that are also related to the importance of paying taxes, which are essential for the state to provide free healthcare and education and help those in need. Some parents want to invest in their children’s emotional, social and development as active citizens who can stand up to be counted on environmental and social issues when they grow up. 

I am sure that irrespective of the current controversy, Schembri has sacrificed a lot of his time and that of his family’s for the country.

It is this trait found in many people in politics across the ideological spectrum, which should be treasured. It is a sacrifice which I for one am not willing to pay. Political commitment may deny politicians precious family time but stands as an example to all that life does not stop at home.

Schembri must be in a difficult position, having invested so much of his life to what he must perceive as being good for his country.

But it remains a mystery as to why he, along with Konrad Mizzi, is unable to comprehend why his offshore fiscal arrangements are unbecoming for a servant of the republic. They should simply do the right thing. Resign and than defend their names from any further accusations, not as people in power, but as common mortals.

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