PD deputy leader requests anti-corruption investigation into ministerial favours

PD deputy leader Timothy Alden requests investigation by the Permanent Commission Against Corruption

Alden said environment minister Jose Herrera (pictured) defended the use of customer care teams to cater for constituents' needs
Alden said environment minister Jose Herrera (pictured) defended the use of customer care teams to cater for constituents' needs

The deputy leader of the Partit Demokratiku has filed a report to the Permanent Commission Against Corruption, requesting an investigation into “favours” carried out by ministry customer-care units.

Timothy Alden said his household was contacted by the home affairs ministry with the intention of offering his family favours “in an attempt to bribe me into voting for the government in upcoming elections.”

Alden was referring to a practice by so called ‘customer care’ offices within ministries, which target various households through phone-calls, asking voters whether they “require anything” – an invitation to put a direct request of assistance to the ministry.

Alden decried the practice, saying it leads to “corruption across the board”.

“I have had a stranger in the street, unaware of who I was, tell me that the social services regularly receive calls from Castille, to push people to receive benefits they do not deserve. These people are then rubber-stamped to receive what is not their due on ineffective boards, leaving people who actually and desperately need help, out in the cold,” Alden claimed.

The PD activist also alleged that civil servants who do not fall in line faced the threat of punishment.

He quoted environment minister Jose Herrera’s statement to the Malta Independent where he defended the use of the customer care team to cater for constituents’ needs. “The system is what it is. We have a small population where everyone knows each other. They expect politicians to go door-to-door and they expect politicians to accept constituents in their ministry – this is the system in Malta and I would be a hypocrite to say that it isn’t.”

Alden said this was in itself grounds for investigation.

Alden has also sent a letter to the Commissioner of Police requesting an investigation, but the Malta police has demanded that he file an official police report.

Alden has insisted that the Police Act empowers the police to initiate investigations with the simple information of a crime brought to their attention.

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