Potential changes to the electoral system, stricter party financing rules, and the appointment by a 2/3rds majority of Parliament of the Electoral Commission rank high among the proposals of the Malta Chamber in favour of a culture of Good Governance.
The Malta Chamber presented the document ‘Ethical Business calls for Change – a manifesto for Good Governance’, to the Prime Minister only three days following his appointment. The document is the result of a multidisciplinary working group made up of a number of expert contributors, tasked with proposing concrete recommendations.
Today maltachamber.org.mt is taking a look at proposals in what the document terms as the second order of governance, which deals with institutions necessary to solve specific issues and create new opportunities. This level deals with developing the capacity to undertake first-order governance by providing the institutional design and set-up within which such interactions take place.
Focusing on the electoral system, the Malta Chamber calls on Government to evaluate potential changes to the electoral system and identify potential systematic barriers to the emergence of any genuine third-party opposition.
It also proposes a good look into state and business financing of political parties, with a possible retrenchment of commercial activities for the parties (TV/media). This forms part of proposed stricter party financing rules, as party financing needs to ensure that to be eligible, such parties need to have the right structures, corporate governance structures and dedicated research or evidence-based policy units.
Concurrently, the Chamber commits to encourage its members to comply fully with party financing legislation, which legislation needs to be strengthened and improved, while the Electoral commission needs to be appointed by 2/3s majority in Parliament.
Shifting focus onto the legislative side of matters, the Chamber argues that an assessment of the current number of parliamentarians in Malta is overdue. The Chamber inquires whether these numbers are necessary and for the State to commission a study exploring the potential benefits of a reduced legislature.
At the same time, the document proposes a mandatory full-time Parliament with the right salary package, equipping Parliament with a research unit and strengthening oversight committees and include new commissioners that report to parliament such as a commissioner of good governance.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) needs to be transposed into an authority that encompasses the National Audit Office (NAO) and has the ability to enforce and prosecute.
The document also proposes to hasten the additional prosecutorial functions being assumed by the office of the Attorney General. The Chamber positively notes the recent appointment of the new constitutional role of State Advocate who will be responsible for all government advisory and legal representation functions in the field of constitutional, civil and administrative law.
Identify weaknesses with respect to the investigation and enforcement of offences relating to bribery and corruption. Develop a consolidated Anti-Bribery Act similar to the UK model. Set up a National Anti-Corruption Authority (Malta currently has a ‘Permanent Commission Against Corruption (PCAC)’, which is not sufficiently independent of the executive and has little power in practice. The PCAC requires more resources).
Finally, carry out a comprehensive assessment of Malta’s current regulatory and legal frameworks to raise awareness of the laws and regulations already in place, identify weaknesses/possible improvements and propose feasible amendments. The focus should be on improving the existing legal tools (e.g. enforcement), both in the public and private sectors. Highlight that progress in the private sector can go a long way in repairing Malta’s image internationally.
maltachamber.org.mt shall highlight more proposals from the second order of governance tomorrow.