[WATCH] PM says government authority heads should not carry out private practice

Robert Abela says government authority CEOs are paid well enough to not carry out private practice when employed with the state

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Government authority heads should not have private practice when occupying a role with the state, Prime Minister Robert Abela said.

“I will not accept that an authority head also has his personal business to deal with when in their position,” Abela said.

The PM was speaking at a Labour Party event held in St George’s Square, Valletta.

Abela said that in a regulation introduced by a Nationalist administration, heads of major government authorities like Transport Malta (TM) and at the time MEPA, were allowed to head the authority, while continuing to work in their private practice.

“I remember a certain TM chairman who not only continued his private practice, but government tenders where granted to commercial entities he had a say in,” Abela said.

Abela said this is not on, stating such a practice must not continue.

“Every authority CEO is paid well, twice his minister’s salary, and so their sole focus should be on the authority they are heading,” Abela said.

“During the time of the nationalists, it was not the heads of the authority who travelled with businessmen, they were the businessmen.”

Earlier this week it was revealed that suspended MFSA CEO Joe Cuschieri, had travelled to Las Vegas with alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia mastermind Yorgen Fenech. Cuschieri said he was invited to advise on regulatory matters related to gaming, a sector he

But while Cuschieri had only just stepped down from CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority, also accompanying them on the flight was the MGA’s legal counsel, Edwina Licari.

Both have suspended themselves from the MFSA.

Budget which caters for the future

Speaking on the budget, Abela praised government’s vision in looking ahead and catering for the future.

“We had to cater for the problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have to look beyond it, because in a couple of months’ time, this problem will be over,” he said.

Abela said that a Eurostat survey on unemployment, which according to him showed Malta as the country with the lowest unemployment rate in the Eurozone, is a certificate of government’s good work.

“This shows that we are on the right track,” he said.

He also stated that the budget’s aid to those in society who need the most help is a show of the government’s socialist ideology.

“This was a budget which caters for the weakest in society,” he said.

On the other hand, the PM hit out at the opposition for the lack of vision it is showing, stating it has embarked on attacks to make people forget Bernard Grech’s speech and the government’s budget.

“Attacks show that the more the PN wants us to believe it is changing, the more it doesn’t, with the same people we have seen before. They told us it was a cut and paste budget, the same words uttered by Simon Busutill in his time as party leader,” he said.

He also called out the opposition for sitting on the fence when asked for their position on major projects like the Malta-Gozo tunnel.

The Nationalist Establishment

Reacting to a statement issued by the PN on Sunday morning, where it dissociated itself from former candidate Ryan Mercieca, Abela blamed the move on the “nationalist establishment.”

In a statement, the party said that following consultations with leader Bernard Grech, secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech called on the PN’s ethics committee to investigate what was reported on Mercieca.

The investigation comes following a casual election on the district in light of MP Fredrick Azzopardi’s death earlier in October.

“They said they want to disassociate from him, but they want to break him,” he said.

While he was kicked out, Abela said that a leading party MP, who was also caught falsifying documents, still holds a top role in the party.

“That’s how they work – if you’re part of the establishment its ok, if not you’re removed,” he said.