Review Persons of Trust System, Backbencher Conflict of Interest, and Ensure a Strong, Free Media

24th January 2020

Malta Chamber makes more concrete proposals in favour of a culture of Good Governance

Government ought to seriously consider the issue of the employment of “persons of trust” within private secretariats, and actively look at drastically reducing the teams which are normally employed by Ministers, depending on their portfolios.

This is one of the concrete proposals forwarded by the Malta Chamber to the Prime Minister only three days following his appointment. The document 'Ethical Business calls for Change – a manifesto for Good Governance', outlines a detailed and objective action plan for Government, in favour of a culture of Good Governance.

It is the result of a multidisciplinary working group made up of a number of expert contributors, tasked with proposing concrete recommendations which were in turn presented to the new Prime Minister only four days following his investiture.

The Chamber is aware that issues concerning potential conflict of interests of backbench members of Parliament (on both sides of the House) who hold positions within, or provide contractual service to the Public Sector have already formed the subject of a detailed investigation and report carried out by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life.

Whilst the Chamber does not endorse nor dispute the findings of such a report, it is encouraged that such issues are entering the public debate and are being looked into by the appropriate institutional and encourages further discussion, since this can only augur well for the country.

With reference to the media sphere, the Malta Chamber calls on Government to ensure sufficient legal safeguards to preserve and protect the role of a free press. While the independence and impartiality of the national news broadcaster must be looked into, the Chamber also calls for a mature discussion on the future of political party channels. This discussion should be directly linked to party financing.

Referring to the Malta Council for Economic and Social Dialogue, the Chamber proposed that Government should strengthen its resources and independence. This entity, the Chamber argued, needs to become a powerhouse of social dialogue and policy-making and become totally independent from Government. On the same lines, the appointment of the MCESD Chairman should be decided by the social partners with no interference by Government.

With a view to improve harmonization, Government is called on, to coordinate different Ministries and Agencies through a central strategic policy secretariat aimed at ensuring synergies between policies. Similarly, Cabinet office ought to be strengthened to become the main coordinating policy-making body. Finally ensure that enforcement agencies are free from political interference, are adequately resourced and avoid human interaction as much as possible through the deployment of digital tools.