Paul Borg Olivier calls out ‘childish’ shifting of financial woes blame in PN

Former Nationalist secretary general says ex-party officials of Adrian Delia's administration shifting the blame for the PN’s financial troubles to others amounts to ‘preschool yard politics’

Former PN secretary general Paul Borg Olivier
Former PN secretary general Paul Borg Olivier

Paul Borg Olivier has called out former party officials of Adrian Delia’s administration for blaming others for the financial troubles the Nationalist Party is currently facing.

Borg Olivier, who was PN general secretary from 2008 to 2013 under former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, defended the management of finances under his watch, saying the party’s financial situation was dealt with in a thorough manner.

In a Facebook post this afternoon, Borg Olivier made reference to a report in MaltaToday on the debt riddling the PN, which he said he hoped was wrong. However, he said that he couldn’t accept that “former party officials of the current administration are bringing to the fore the financial state of the party.”

His comments appear to be a reference to statements by Clyde Puli in his resignation letter - after stepping down as general secretary last week in the wake of the leadership crisis facing the party - that the debt accumulated over the years that preceded the Delia administration was a “millstone hanging around the party’s neck.”

Borg Olivier was likely also referring to comments by former party affairs deputy leader Robert Arrigo in his parting message to members of the PN parliamentary group after he also resigned last week. Arrigo lifted the lid on the details of the party’s financial issues which he described as “huge” and “uncared for.”

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“I have heard Clyde Puli on state television saying the debts ‘run into millions’. It is a known fact that the party has its financial difficulties and cashflow problems but the party was always backed by a strong asset base that outweighed its liabilities,” Borg Olivier said.

“The role of Secretary General or Deputy Leader for Party Affairs is there to engage with the the party state of affairs and move forward, notwithstanding the situation they may have found themselves in. You assume the job with whatever it takes and pass on the baton at the end of the term. That it how the role works,” he highlighted.

Borg Olivier said that Delia’s administration had never sought help or advice, however, and Puli had never engaged with those who previously occupied his post.

“It is a difficult role that needs focus during your term of office, offering a helping hand when needed after leaving the post. Unfortunately, the current administration never thought it necessary to seek such help or advice. That was up to the outgoing Secretary General who never engaged on this matter or any other matter. It is his decision that I respected,” he said.

“Shifting the buck on others at the end of a term is childish and typical of preschool yard ‘politics’. I never played that game and will never engage in that sort of tactic and will not participate in an open debate on party matters,” Borg Olivier said.

He emphasised that, under his helm as general secretary, the party had started addressing the financial issue, but had steered cleared of measures such as dismissing employees in light of the global economic crisis which was ongoing at the time.

“Laying off employees was also not on the drawing board considering that we were battling the worst world financial crisis. I am not criticising any later decision. On the contrary, they were bold decisions that I endorse, but back then, supporting our employees and their families was a political decision taken collectively by the party administration,” he said.

Borg Olivier went on to say that the PN was in debt because it did not compromise itself by doing politics with big business.

“The fact that the Party has its debts means that it is a party built on strong values and not one built on the ‘politics’ of compromising oneself with the big business like the Labour Party,” he said.

“Today, in court, I explained how the PN could have gone down the road of the Labour Party and engaged in shady deals to prop up it's financial challenges,” Borg Olivier said, in connection with testimony he gave in court on Wednesday in the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

“The PN did not take advantage of requisitioning private property from Maltese families. Nor did it grab public land, as the Labour party did in the past still taking advantage of these scandalous situations to this very day. We invested in a strong portfolio,” he said, adding that he was open to clarifying any matters with the PN’s executive or other internal fora, including by providing supporting documentation.

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