PN mired in debt: How yesteryear’s marble became today’s millstone

In his resignation letter, Clyde Puli said the debt, which accumulated over the years that preceded the Delia administration, was ‘a millstone hanging around the party’s neck

Marble tiles procured before 2008 when the Nationalist Party was building its new headquarters were only paid for in the past two years.

The revelation was made by outgoing PN deputy leader Robert Arrigo last week in a parting message to members of the parliamentary group.

But Arrigo did not stop at that. Listing the financial problems, the PN has had to deal with, he said bills pertaining to the 2008 general election were ignored for 10 years, the broadcasting licences were left unpaid for five years and no payments were ever made to the performing rights society.

“This is the tip of huge uncared of problems,” Arrigo wrote in his sardonic message in which he invited rebel MPs to take over.

The resignation came in the wake of open rebellion by 17 MPs, who asked party leader Adrian Delia to step down.

Arrigo’s message did not reveal anything new about the extent of the PN’s financial troubles but it did lift the lid on the details: ignored bills and a new headquarters still mired in debt.

He also laid part of the blame on former secretary-general Joe Saliba, who was responsible for the construction of the new PN HQ.

Past reports by MaltaToday indicated the PN had debts that amounted to around €25 million, a situation that forced the Simon Busuttil administration to start selling party clubs and place others in a trust to help cover the rising costs.

A secretive loan scheme, known as ċedoli, had also been introduced to pay off some loans and restructure the debt.

The measures do not appear to have solved the financial crisis and although the party has never confirmed the size of its debt, a glimpse was given by former secretary-general Clyde Puli.

Puli resigned his post last Friday and in his letter to Delia, described the financial situation he inherited as “precarious”.

Puli said the Delia administration he worked for had to contend with “millions” in debt and “hundreds of thousands” in annual interest payments.

Puli said the debt, which accumulated over the years that preceded the Delia administration, was “a millstone hanging around the party’s neck”.

And the financial problems are having an impact on the party’s political work.

“Everyday, as secretary-general you have to think of how you are going to pay for what was done yesterday, instead of improving today’s situation and that of the future,” Puli wrote in his resignation letter.

Whatever intention Puli and Arrigo had in mentioning the party’s financial problems, it was another stark reminder that the PN has a veritable existential crisis that goes beyond individuals and policy.

Yesteryear’s marble has come back to haunt the party and is now a financial millstone that does not bode well.