Prime Minister retracts allegation on Tonio Fenech

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat retracts allegation that former finance minister interfered in Enemalta €80 million purchase of smart metres.

Tonight Prime Minister Joseph Muscat retracted the allegation he had made in Parliament two weeks ago over former finance minister Tonio Fenech's interference in Enemalta's purchase of smart meters which had cost the state utility over €80 million.

In his reply to the Opposition leader Simon Busuttil's budget speech, Muscat had said that during the Public Accounts Committee hearings on the fuel procurement, former Enemalta CEO David Spiteri Gingell had claimed that Fenech had interfered in the purchase of the smart meters.

Fenech had immediately denied this allegation and asked Speaker Anglu Farrugia to passa ruling on what he said were defamatory claims. On his part, Farrugia had provided the evidence given by Spiteri Gingell to both parties and gave them time to verify the matter.

Tonight, Muscat told Parliament that after verifying Spiteri Gingell's testimony he confirmed that the former Enemalta CEO had never made such claim. However, the prime minister said that Spiteri Gingell had said that Fenech interfered in the appointment of managers at Enemalta.

In a brief reaction, Fenech welcomed the retraction and clarification, however he pointed out that it was his duty to overlook the engagement of managers at Enemalta when he was finance minister.

Spiteri Gingell, who served as the state utility's CEO between July 2007 and June 2008, was the third witness to appear before the Public Accounts Committee discussing the Auditor General's findings into Enemalta's fuel procurement between 2008 and mid-2011.

But before the PAC members could start questioning him, Spiteri Gingell said he wanted to make a declaration: he revealed the clashes he had had with Tonio Fenech - both as parliamentary secretary in 2007 and finance minister in 2008 - while trying to carry out an overhaul of Enemalta's management infrastructure.

The former CEO had complained that he could not implement the changes at Enemalta because "decisions were being taken from South Street [the Finance Ministry], who in their wisdom were not seeing the gravity of the problem".

Fenech had denied this and said that Spiteri Gingell's planned to appoint 45 managers, which alone would have cost some €5.5 million.

mela il-pn jista jindahal min u come jigi appointed f-certu karigi imma il-pl ma jistax.... jekk int labursit ma tilhaqx u ghandekx id-dritt ghal karriera irrelevanti inti jekk intix jew le kapaci, u jekk inti nazzjonalist u lest li tahdem mal-pl inti traditur tal-partit.... jista xi hadd ifemni?? ghax fejn nahdem jien id-differenza fil bidla fil-gvern qed juri ghax jekk sa lejliet sa familjari ta ex ministru pn lahqet b'mod partigjan, issa il-kuntrarju qed jigri ghax min lahaq laburist jew nazzjonalist lahaq ghax kapaci u ghal xejn iktar!
The prime minister is a real gentleman, unlike the Opposition lot whose main interest is solely that of putting spokes in the wheel for every single government initiative being undertaken.
Dik l-irgulija. Ara T Fenech qatt fhajtu ma kien zbaljat,issa anki dar kontra dak li qal Spiteri Gingel.