Busuttil lists cases of government 'sleaze'

Government is plumbing new depths with every scandal in its ethical race to the bottom. Gaffarena "became a millionaire overnight" thanks to expropriation deals, says Opposition leader.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has said there there were no limits as to how low the Muscat government will go, citing several recent national issues which "smell of corruption."

Speaking during a radio interview this morning, he listed cases of sleaze surrounding the Muscat government. “There are too many cases of sleaze and corruption emerging under this government and I believe that many more are to come. This government has no limit to how low it will go,” said Busuttil accusing the government of plumbing new depths with every scandal, calling it “a race to the bottom.”

The Gaffarena Affair

Marco Gaffarena , said Busuttil, had become an overnight  millionaire thanks to shady expropriation of parts of a Valletta house, which he had just bought, to the government. He asked how government ended up buying a quarter of a property with taxpayer’s money, only for the same person who sold the quarter property to acquire another quarter and once more, sell it to government a few days later

 “Why didn’t the government just buy the whole house?” asked Busuttil, noting that Gaffarena became a millionaire overnight at the taxpayer's expense and describing the whole affair as stinking of corruption.

Gaffarena had made a substantial profit when the government purchased a quarter of his Valletta property in January, followed by another quarter in April, spending €1.65 million in total for, in effect, half a property.

The chairman of the Building Industry Consultative Council Charles Buhagiar was also the architect who sold it to government, added Busttil.

He reminded listeners of the Café Premier scandal which has not yet been resolved, saying it had been put in the shade by the newer cases of corruption.

Weakened  ministerial code of ethics

The Opposition leader said the new code of ethics for ministers opened the door to widespread abuse and corruption.

20 years after the publication of the original code of ethics, said Busuttil, it would be expected that standards be raised, but instead the government has done the opposite.

Government has weakened the ministerial code of conduct by making it possible for a minister to occupy public office and at the same time, continue to his private practice. “They had made so much noise about the €500 per week pay rise [for MPs under the previous government]. They are making much more money now."

Concretegate scandal

Busuttil had harsh words for the inquiry commissioned by the government into the weak concrete scandal at Mater Dei.
“How can you call the inqury independent? It is being carried out by a retired judge who is an ex Labour MP and who Muscat placed on every pubic board in existence, as well as on the Labour party boards and who has appointed his own son, who happens to be a Labour deputy mayor, as part of this enquiry.”

He accused the government of turning the scandal into a political game instead of taking action against the companies who supplied the defective concrete. “I hope the government is going to demand the €35 million from the responsible companies,” said Busuttil adding that contractual clauses precluding this liability do not stand as this was a case of fraud.

Busuttil said that he did not expect any better from Konrad Mizzi, who went behind the people's backs to Azerbaijan and bought oil at unfavourable prices and whose wife is still earning €13000 a week on the state payroll.

Zonqor Point development

The Opposition leader reiterated his commitment to continued resistance against the proposed development of the American University at Zonqor Point.

“So the Opposition went there on Sunday and said that if you want to destroy the area you need to drive over us, too”

He acknowleged the PN’s unfavourable track record on environmental matters  but said that the party had learnt from its mistakes and knew where to improve.

He repeated his question form last week, asking government who it is trying to please and to identify who was the owner of the surrounding land, asking  once more for the reason behind the govenment's non-publication of the contract with the Jordanian investor .