Editorial | Cleaner politics for better business

Abela’s government must persist in its drive to ensure the rule of law prevails and the highest ethical standards are demanded of those in power


Malta’s international reputation has been sullied for too long and the risks of this having a significant impact are real.

The Council of Europe’s Moneyval task force is expected to deliver its verdict after the summer on Malta’s efforts to combat financial crime.

The risks of Malta being put on the grey list are very real. This is a prospect the country and the business community want to avert.

If Malta is placed on the grey list, the jurisdiction’s risk level will increase, making it harder and more laborious to attract quality investment. Businesses will have an additional burden to deal with in their linkages with foreign counterparts.

The lack of action against former minister Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri when their names cropped up in the Panama Papers, the serious allegations of corruption and impropriety linked to major public projects, the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the murky links between big business and politics being exposed in court proceedings linked to the murder, have created serious repercussions domestically and abroad.

Robert Abela’s administration over the past six months has shown its willingness to address some of these serious failings.

The method of appointment for police commissioner has changed and the newly appointed chief has already made the right moves by appointing a new leader for the economic crimes unit.

The police must be given all the resources it requires to be able to tackle financial crime and corruption with a target to achieve meaningful prosecutions.

The government has also received the green light from the Venice Commission for proposed constitutional reforms that will strengthen good governance and the rule of law.

And this week, Abela forced Konrad Mizzi’s removal from the Labour parliamentary group after the latest allegations of corruption linked to a wind farm project in Montenegro.

Mizzi’s removal was four years late – he should have been forced out in 2016 when the Panama Papers scandal erupted – but it bodes well.

While Mizzi’s legal responsibility for the Montenegro wind farm project is up to the police and the courts to determine, political responsibility demands otherwise.

Politicians must not only be clean but seen to be clean. Mizzi can defend himself in every forum without acting as a millstone for the government and the country.

Good governance and the rule of law are essential ingredients for business to thrive in a healthy environment that encourages enterprise, innovation, new investment and competition.

Malta’s international reputation may be an intangible concept for many but the business community feels the real impact of it in its talks with foreign counterparts and dealings with financial institutions.

Abela’s government must persist in its drive to ensure the rule of law prevails and the highest ethical standards are demanded of those in power.

Only this course of action can start to repair the bad image abroad that has been created and which is causing an unnecessary hurdle for businesses.

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