23 February 2005

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Government accountability accepted for gas shortages
A government representative has apologised to consumers and assumed responsibility for the scarcity of gas cylinders that hit the country over the past weeks.
“The government is responsible for these circumstances and as a representative of the Maltese government, I apologise to all those Enemalta clients who during the past few days found difficulties in buying gas cylinders. Something went wrong and one cannot attribute responsibility to one single person. But everything possible must be done to avoid a repetition of this situation.”
Surprisingly, this declaration was made by Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and the Self Employed Edwin Vassallo during yesterday evening’s edition of Int X’Tahseb? aired on Smash TV and hosted by Saviour Balzan.
Edwin Vassallo, with his typical frankness, did not mince his words on the volatile issue. While insisting that this was a “one off situation”, Vassallo did not shy away from assuming political responsibility.
Vassallo defended Minister Gatt’s record on gas shortages and promised that by “the time the repetition of this programme is screened” (i.e. by next Saturday at 10:00pm), the situation would be back to normal.
Edwin Vassallo’s declaration went much further than Minister Gatt’s declaration during a programme on Radio 101 that the situation in this sector is “unacceptable”. During the same programme Minister Gatt questioned the monopoly enjoyed by gas cylinders distributors, who are represented by the GRTU. Gatt argued that the consumer deserves a better service from gas distributors and that this monopoly was one of a number of factors with a negative impact on this sector.

Edwin Vassallo, a supporter of former Finance Minister John Dalli in last March’s leadership contest, is known for making very frank declarations in the recent past.
Speaking in parliament on 19 January, Vassallo declared that the eco tax could have been introduced in better way. He was even quoted by Alfred Sant during the last national protest on The Granaries.
Vassallo is also known for promising to wage war on bureaucracy and that if he fails in delivering, he would go back to running his family business. Yet in this instance, Vassallo was not just speaking his own mind. Vassallo made it clear that he was speaking on behalf of the Maltese government.


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