Updated | Social partners react to political crisis

Malta Chamber of Commerce, Malta Employers Association and Union Haddiema Maghqudin react to country's political turmoil

The Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern over the political developments
The Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern over the political developments

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has said it fears the current political upheaval will prove detrimental to business confidence and the general stability of Malta in the long run.

The Chamber called on the Prime Minister “to do the right thing, and ensure that justice is delivered as soon as possible”, but said that the accusations levelled against officials in the highest echelons of power prevent Joseph Muscat from doing so.

In a statement issued on Friday - hours after Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri was released from police custody, and it was announced that Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech would not be granted a presidential pardon - the Chamber said that “a way out must be found”.

“On election to government in 2013, the Labour party delivered on its promise of a business-friendly environment that was conducive for economic growth and a creativity of investment. The Malta Chamber has played a major role in this process which brought about our country’s most affluent time to date,” it said.

However, it insisted that the government’s track record has been “tarnished by a long and heavy shadow it cannot shake or shrug off”.

“The events that took place last night, brought to the fore more doubts rather than certainties, more questions rather than answers. The latest developments this morning, on the Vitals Global Healthare case involving three ministers continues to make matters worse,” the Chamber said.

Today a court threw out an appeal by finance minister Edward Scicluna and former ministers Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona against a criminal inquiry into the Vitals deal. This effectively means the three are again the subject of a criminal inquiry.

“The Malta Chamber fears this will prove detrimental to business confidence and the general stability of the country in the long run. On behalf of all well-spirited and ethical businesses in Malta, the Chamber calls on the Prime Minister to do the right thing, and ensure that justice is delivered as soon as possible,” the Chamber emphasised.

“Unfortunately, the accusations that have been levelled against people in the highest echelons of power, prevent the office of the Prime Minister from delivering on this tall order, and this is raising doubts in the entire system. A way out must be found.”

The Chamber added that not only must justice be done, but it must also be seen to be done, and immediately.

“Only in such a way will we assure the much-needed stability and business confidence for the country.”

Employers' association calls for urgent discussion on 'unprecedented moral, reputational and political crisis'

The Malta Employers’ Association has called for the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development to suspend its normal agenda and hold an urgent meeting to discuss the “unprecedented moral, reputational and political crisis” the country is currently facing, and the possible ramifications that could result from it. 

The MEA said that the “avalanche of events that have transpired over the past few days, including the fact that a senior and two ex-ministers are now facing a criminal inquiry”, can have serious repercussions on Maltese society. 

“Besides the negative economic implications of the current situation and its possible impact on investment and jobs, the mounting political tension has polarised the Maltese people and plunged the country into social unrest. The Association appealed for a return to normalcy, even if this means taking hard decisions to see justice done and to place the national interest above partisan and personal concerns,” the associations said.

The MEA said Malta’s international reputation has been severely damaged. “The incident whereby Maltese and international journalists were locked in a room in the Prime Minister’s premises and watched over by thugs is reprehensible and betrays a degeneration of our democratic credentials.”

It highlighted that contradictions, conflict of interest and lack of transparency which have characterised the past week's events were endless and add to the uncertainty that has been accumulating over the past months. 

“There is a growing lack of confidence in the political class among the general public that is equally shared by the business community," the MEA said. 

"This disillusionment and distrust of politicians are dangerous and it is imperative for those who lead the country – both in government and in opposition – to live up to their responsibilities by setting an example of good governance, and guiding our society towards unity and prosperity,” it added.