Regulator needs to take action on coop

The majority of fishermen are totally disoriented and disconnected from the Coop

 No wonder the government slapped the Coop with a judicial letter over an unpaid loan
No wonder the government slapped the Coop with a judicial letter over an unpaid loan

In your report ‘Government slaps fishing cooperative with judicial letter over unpaid loan (6 November, 2016), I was intrigued to look into the accounts of the Ghaqda Koperattiva tas-Sajd Ltd, whose accounts for 2015 are not yet available.

In an Excel spreadsheet of the 2011-2014 figures, the resulting table delivers a net worth of the coop that is negative. An auditors’ note to the accounts says that water and electricity bills amounting to €91,000 are not reflected in the books! This implies that the net worth of the coop might actually be €178,000 – (negative)!

The figures in the Profit and Loss account are also eye-catching. While the average yearly turnover is €62,000, the accounts show an average yearly increase of €47,000 in the Provision for Doubtful Debts and an average yearly loss of €41,000. The Balance Sheet shows a debtors’ figure of €87,500. This is equivalent to 16.8 months turnover!

On the other hand, the creditors’ figure reads €207,000. Adding the amount of €91,000, for unsettled water and electricity bills, we get a global figure of €298,000 and this makes the picture really gruesome. No wonder the government slapped the Coop with a judicial letter over an unpaid loan.

The auditors, Parker Randall Turner, have been highlighting serious shortcomings and issuing adverse opinions on the Coop’s accounts for a very long time. Extracts from the 2012 and the 2014 audit reports are just two examples.

Has any action ever been taken in this regard? Certified true copies of the audited financial statements, together with the audit report are submitted yearly to the Cooperatives Board – the regulator. 

There are some pertinent questions that need to be answered, namely:

Who is responsible for the Co-operative’s accounts? Why are the 2015 accounts not yet available? Does the list of debtors include any past or present officials of the Coop? “Some €30,000 in government subsidies were used to pay for diesel instead of electricity” – the Coop does not use any diesel fuel. Were the fishermen informed about the project to set up a freezing/cold storage and packing facility for their use? How come fishermen do not have access to this facility? Does it really exist?

The auditors have stated that not all transactions were included in the system, particularly with respect to debtors and transactions with banks. What does the Coop have to say on this?

With respect to the 2011 accounts the auditors stated that they could not confirm the value and existence of €7,365 stock of fishing tackle included under current assets. Can the Coop explain?

The auditors also stated that an honoraria of €5,600 in favour of members and the secretary could not be verified with any documentary evidence. What is really going on? 

The majority of fishermen are totally disoriented and disconnected from the Coop. They go as far as saying that they have no cooperative. I say that the Ghaqda Koperattiva tas-Sajd Ltd has long been dead. Yet it could be convenient for somebody to live over a dead body.

Martin Caruana, Marsaxlokk

EllaOne and Plan B: not the same thing

The draft Guidance for Pharmacists on the safe supply of Levonorgestrel 1500mcg (Plan B) and Ulipristal Acetate 30mg (EllaOne) issued by the Medicines Authority cannot in fact be safe at all. How can a 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- or 5-day old embryo be safe when the guidelines talk of pregnancy, thus not recognising the first five days of the embryo’s life?

If the woman ovulated yesterday and had the pill today, how can the claim of the pill working only “before the ovum is released from the ovary” make sense? These guidelines refer to the WHO (World Health Organisation), which though being a glorious organisation in many areas, is in favour of abortion as it does not recognise the first five days of the embryo. Proper safety includes both the safety of the woman and that of the embryo.

It is imperative that it is made clear to the public that these two pills are different. The Parliamentary Committee has already made it clear that EllaOne can prevent a living embryo from implanting itself in the uterus or even kill an embryo after implantation, so much so that EllaOne is efficient even 120 hours after it is taken (Parliamentary Committee Report, pg 7).

On the other hand Plan B, if taken at a certain time before ovulation, can act as an anovulatory, which means that it prevents the ovary from releasing an egg and therefore is not abortifacient. Plan B, after appropriate testing (such as a urine test on the woman) to check whether she has ovulated or not, has been used in hospitals abroad which acknowledge that life starts from fertilisation. 

Thus, only Plan B with ovulation testing should be allowed. EllaOne is against our laws and should not be licensed. “Maltese laws determine that life starts with the fertilisation of the ovum. Thus, any product which terminates a pregnancy after fertilisation can be abortive.” (Parliamentary Committee Report, pg 8).

Getting it right the morning after for us means that women, especially those who end up victims of rape, are to be protected as much as possible but we cannot afford to have “second victims” – an innocent, newly conceived embryo, through a chemical abortion.

Martha Fitz et al, Addresses supplied

Right of reply: Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools

Reference is made to the article pblished on MaltaToday, ‘FTS tenderer flagged Bartolo aide in 2015’ (4 December, 2016) and to the article by Saviour Balzan, ‘Just another Sunday’ published in the same edition.

I categorically deny that I met any complainant related to the tendering of school furniture on the request of Mr Philip Rizzo.

Furthermore, I categorically deny that I know Mr Ciliberti or that I ever held a meeting with either Mr Ciliberti or any other complainant in respect of tender complaints.

I also categorically deny sanctioning of direct orders before these are directed to the ministry of finance unless the direct orders are endorsed, approved, and recommnded by the respective hierarchy pertaining to the pertinent entities falling within the remit of this ministry.

As a matter of fact I refrain from sanctioning any such requests unless these are processed as stated.

Joseph Caruana, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Education and Employment

Editorial Note

MaltaToday stands by its story: this newspaper has clarified that the CEO at the time was not Philip Rizzo and that the permanent secretary contacted the said complainant in April 2015 when the minister was alerted. On the other points, this newspaper never said that Mr Joseph Caruana knew Sandro Ciliberti or that he had met him.