Updated | De Marco calls for further resources for MPs

Opposition deputy leader calls for Parliamentary reform to reflect 'today's realities' and proposes creation of pool of researchers.

PN deputy leader Mario de Marco spoke on how Parliament could improve the way it deals with European policies and said that over the years the House of Representatives' responsibilities increased tenfold.

"We need a stronger Parliament, we need a Parliament which reflects today's reality and I believe that both sides of the House can work together to achieve this," de Marco as Parliament discussed the Budget estimates for the European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto ministry.

He said that MPs needed further resources to fulfill their responsibilities. De Marco explained that MPs have a dual role, the representative and the legislative roles. Drawing comparisons with the European Parliament, de Marco said that Maltese MPs lacked resources to carry out these two distinct responsibilities in an adequate manner.

"What tools are we making available to our MPs? I'm not saying this to criticise the current government because all parties are at fault on this. I believe the time has come to have a pool of researchers who assist MPs as other Parliaments abroad have."  

Adding that all MPs do their utmost, de Marco said that Parliament needs to make a quality leap and carry out a "soul-searching exercise" to decide in which direction it should head.

Noting that he had doubts whether having full-time MPs would resolve the problem, de Marco said that ministers and parliamentary secretaries had an advantage thanks to their secretariats which aided them in both their executive and parliamentary roles.

This was resulting in having first division and second division MPs, de Marco said, adding that Parliament needed more autonomy.

"We need to understand what is expected of our MPs," the PN deputy leader said, pointing out that the role of MPs needed to reflect today's realities.

On the citizenship scheme, de Marco said that the country's strong reputation abroad belonged to all parties and warned that it was dangerous to expect the opposition to refrain from criticisng the government and its actions.

"I hope it is not too late and I hope that reason prevails. I hope we can discuss further amendments which improve the law and enhance our reputation."

Earlier, opposition MP Marthese Portelli said that the government's decision to revoke the secrecy clause from the citizenship scheme approved last week had proved the PN right because "reason cannot be defeated by might."

On Friday, Deputy prime minister Louis Grech revealed with MaltaToday that government is to remove a confidentiality clause  from the Individual Investment Programme, that would have meant that new citizens who buy their passports by paying €650,000 into the scheme, would remain secret.

He said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had agreed with him for the secrecy clause to be removed, and for the names to be published. The revocation followed harsh criticism and botched attempts by the PN to have the secrecy clause removed before the law was approved by Parliament and to have the scheme linked to long-term residency and investment. 

Pointing out that the controversial citizenship scheme did not feature in the Labour Party's electoral programme, Portelli said that the Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech "knows that the opposition was right in its criticism and he not only failed to address a press conference to announce the removal of the secrecy clause but he also chickened away from facing the PN deputy leader on television."

On the government's claims that the due diligence process will be "independent and infallible," Portelli said that concessionaire Henley & Partners had not yet set up the guidelines for the due diligence process.

She added that Henley & Partners admitted that they had provided the names of a number of companies which could carry out the due diligence process and went on to ask whether this process would be carried out by IIP Malta Ltd which was owned by Henley & Partners.

"What role will this company play in the screening process?" Portelli asked, providing Parliament with the company's registration number.

The MP added that Malta's standing within Europe had suffered a heavy blow following the approval of the citizenship scheme.

Turning to the European Affairs portfolio, Portelli said that the ministry "does not even have a webpage," adding that this was indicative of the ministry's lack of substance and policies.

She also asked whether the €300,000 allocated for travelling expenses would be used to relocate migrants, as the government had attempted to do in June.

Slamming the government's failure to fulfill its promise to introduce meritocracy and transparency, Portelli said "You are responsible for the implementation of Labour's programme, however what has happened of the promise to have public appointments decided by the people online?"

In his address to Parliament, opposition MP Antoine Borg focused on EU funds and called on Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds and EU Presidency 2017 Ian Borg to publish the feedback the government received on how the €1 billion EU funds Malta was allocated in the 2014-2020 multi-annual budget should be used.

He also urged Borg to publish its operational programme for the use of funds.

While pointing out that the previous PN government had made life easy for the current administration by obtaining the funds in 2012, Borg also called for simplification in the accessibility to EU funds.

On the 2017 EU Presidency, the opposition MP asked whether the government had any plans on what the agenda would be and how Malta would ensure that the event is "platform which benefits the country."


Demarco would better focus on finding funds for his bankrupt PN. He would better find the necessary resources to pay the wages of PN employees.
Demarco would better focus on finding funds for his bankrupt PN. He would better find the necessary resources to pay the wages of PN employees.
Issa fl-opozizzjoni kollox irridu ara meta kienu fil gvern ma ghamlu xejn fil waqt li kellhom is sahha. Dr Demarco darba qal li l-MTA sejra South Street u l-Muzew ta l-Arti sejjer flok l-MTA. HU qatt ma ghamel xejn dwar dan ghax il parir li tah il; kumitat li hu hatar qallu li ghal MTA il Muzew zghir. Issa ghax hemm il PL fil gvern qed jghidu ghax ghadu ma marx. U halluna !!!!!!!!!!
Nahseb dawn tal PN jipreferu ixeklu lil pajjiz mil gid li gej milli jikoperaw fliemkien mal gvern biex jigbdu habel wiehed ghal gid taghna ukoll, imma l-ikbar problema lil holqot ghal PN hu li probabli ghandu hafna zmien iktar f-oppozzjoni , ghax majridux il gvern jofri gid u flus fil but lil cittadini, pero imbaghat ghem il poplu iktar inteligenti mil PN specjalment mil Simon Bussutil, iz zejt se jitla f'wicc ilma dalwaqt, halli naraw mim kienu li baghatu lil emails lil gazzetti tal barra biex ihamgu lil Malta. Kien nista nejt li tkelliemt mal nazzjonalisti ta affair taghom hu qallu li possibilta li pn jitlef hafna elezjonijiet fil future, ghax il poplu f-ahhar iried gid biss.