‘Things yet to come to light’ on WasteServ, says minister

Sustainable Development Minister Leo Brincat highlights issues in WasteServ, says problems and abuses ‘will come to light’

Sustainable Development Minister Leo Brincat
Sustainable Development Minister Leo Brincat

Sustainable Development Minister Leo Brincat characterised his address during the 2013 budget debate by promising a crackdown in abuse at government entity WasteServ, saying that the situation was worse than that found by the Auditor General.

Brincat said that experts will be investigating and examining WasteServ to identify problems and abuses ongoing within the government waste-management entity, and promised that "everything will be coming to light."

By way of example, he mentioned excessive operational costs, lacking internal audit procedures, a lack of management-level transparency, as well as endemic abuses of the entity's resources.

Brincat said that despite how WasteServ was supposed to trim down its operations and delegate more work to the private sector "today I am in a better position to understand why ... it has continued getting fatter and more bloated by increasing its operations instead of decentralising."

He said that despite how the entity was equipped with internal auditors responsible for scrutinising its operations, "they were only allowed to over only 40% of those areas which were originally identified as risky to the company."

He said that according to a particular report presented only days ago "not only did management fail to provide timely feedback, but worse than that the company was not even in a position to issue its final audit report because the report itself was out of date."

Brincat went on to say among the auditor's complaints was the concern that management had never instructed them to audit the manner in which the company accounts were done because "according to them the function was always changing."

"Despite how the auditors were promised that the way the accounts would be done would be improved, till today they are unaware how much of the necessary changes were implemented."

He also said that among those areas of the company's operations that the auditors were not provided access to where accounting, IT, and administration, including human resources.

He added that the auditors were even prohibited access to "medium risk audits" related to the Sant Antnin Mechanical Treatment Plant, the Gozo Transfer Plant, and the Ghallis Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility.

He also noted that following a spot visit at the St Antnin plant, he was informed that many people were told of his visit, and warned to be on their toes should the minister decided to conduct further spot visits in other departments.

He said that he was also urged to schedule his visits beforehand, something which he dismissed entirely, arguing that "I am sure that if I announce or plan my visits, I will find everything spick and span."

He also noted that there was ongoing abuse regarding even the department's cars, adding that certain people were using them as if they  were their personal vehicles despite having expensive vehicles of their own.

He also said that while former Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono was "happy to rely on the same superficial studies by the same consultant regarding the Dwejra natural arch, we are not happy doing likewise."

He said that the Labour Government would be commissioning detailed and in depth geological studies to see how the geological processes that are affecting and eroding the natural landmark, and how these could be cushioned.

He also said that while Malta's environmental policies are good on paper, he noted that their implementation was lacking, accusing the preceding administration of either taking too long to implement policies, or failing to set up serious benchmarks to gauge their effectiveness when it did.

 

 

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I am getting sick and tired of hearing what was wrong! We all know what was wrong, and we trust the new administration to start putting things right. Full stop! However, what we are more interested in, is how the new administration is faring in bringing these criminals to book, AND getting our money back!!