Beam in the eye

Beam in the eye

Labour has been persecuting Jason Azzopardi for having authorised the sale of government property in Balluta for a price set by law when leasing it out would have made the government more money. This happened eight years ago when Azzopardi was vice-minister responsible for the lands department.

He approved a recommendation from the department officials to sell the property, but the auditor general said Jason Azzopardi should have done the math and refused the civil service recommendation and ordered the land to be leased rather than sold, so government gets the best deal.

Jason Azzopardi does not dispute that a lease would have been a better deal. He does say in his defence that he should not be blamed for approving a civil service recommendation. If something was rotten about the recommendation, the blame should be placed on those who made it. Political responsibility should be carried when the Minister interferes to change a civil service decision, not when he does not.

Now there are a number of significant observations to be made.

The case is being heard by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament that is deposing witnesses, including Jason Azzopardi, to review this decision from 8 years ago. That’s all fine. But consider how the government refuses to allow the PAC to review the privatisation of the hospitals say and you realise that 5 years into Labour government and the rules of transparency still only apply to PN administrations. The law is clearly not equal to all.

And Jason Azzopardi made another point yesterday to show just how hypocritical all this is.

Labour is fussing that Jason Azzopardi in 2010 signed off on the sale of a 165 square metre property in Balluta sold at a price set by a formula fixed at law because the site was taken over by government from the church and can only therefore be sold at a price that the law requires.

The site was sold for 525,000 euro or 3,181 euro per square metre. Clearly this price is less than market rates in Balluta.

But consider the transfer of government land in St George’s Bay where the ITS used to be. That’s a 24,000 square metre site transferred for the price of 15 million euro. That’s 625 euro per square metre. Now that is pure government land with no restrictions on the resale price at law. So the government here applied its full discretion not to sell at market prices. That would make sense if the site was being used for some public purpose like a school or a hospital.

But it’s being used to develop apartments and entertainment: purely commercial activities. Understand this. If the Labour government applied to the ITS site the same rate per square metre they are now trying to nail Jason Azzopardi with for the Balluta sale, instead of 15 million the price tag would have been 77 million euro.

If they used the ruler the auditor general gave them to slap Jason Azzopardi with, the price of the ITS site would have ranged anywhere between 138 and over half a billion euro.

Jason Azzopardi will deny having a mote in his eye. He argues he acted correctly in approving a recommendation by his civil servants drawn up strictly according to law. But even if Labour was concerned with that mote, it wants the rest of us to ignore the beam in its own eye.

Perhaps it feels it can afford this hypocrisy because Jason Azzopardi’s colleagues are busy recovering from Christmas drinks hosted by the new owner of the ITS site than holding the government to account.

  • pete ross

    Jason Azzopardi is being back-stabbed by Adrian Delia and his Labour-paid cronies, an extension of the Castile Mafia, and who between the two of them backstabbed Simon Busuttil and the Maltese people by rigging the June 2017 election in Joseph Muscat’s favour, thus saving him from sure imprisonment together with a few others such as Ms. Muscat herself, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna. Joseph Muscat used his vast financial reserves and political power to buy every person who is ready to be bought, including top PN executives, and through Identity Malta, somehow changed the course of a free election.

    A desperate person in power will do everything in his power to remain in power to dodge the bullet, even assassinating his enemies and rig elections.

    • Dick Grech

      Pete – Thank you for your post. A pleasure to up-vote you. So glad Manuel is back from his well-deserved break and I am able to enjoy the comments from you and a number of others who (as far as I can see) tend to avoid ToM or TMI (perhaps to avoid cross-contamination). This site, being largely troll-free, is the best resource for informed comments. Rather like the great old days of Running Commentary.

    • Beingpressed

      Fuck me somone has actually said it!

  • manifimx

    Dangerous times

  • RAgius

    Putting aside the obvious collusion between those opposed to Jason, we should open the champagne bottles when a civil servant is condemned for indiscretion, incompetence or plain corruption. Theirs is the silent hand that delivers to their masters without a hint of responsibility. Files going missing, pages removed, amnesia sets in, sick leave a convenient staller and do on. They are the masters of self preservation and now that they have corrupt masters they are truly in their element.

    There are crooks everywhere. The situation is desperate.

  • Beingpressed

    Jason Azzopardi was Parliamentary Secretary. Was Tonio Fenech his Minister? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Isn’t he now Chairman of the PAC?

  • AD

    Manuel, Labour is always right, (the liars)selling Zonqor Point no problem.

  • Beingpressed

    There never should have been an election. Muscat should have resigned. In any normal country Simon Busuttil would have won on default.

    Please do not reply

    • Maximus

      Yes, but we do not live in a normal country.

  • Maximus

    You are right on all counts here. Not sure about the collusion bit. It never was, and never is, in the PN’s interests to collude with Labour.

    Then again, we are stating what has happened. Now we need to think of what we can do.

    • pete ross

      “Not sure about the collusion bit. It never was, and never is, in the PN’s interests to collude with Labour.”

      Please understand that a corrupt person does not have allegiances. Such people are mercenaries ready to betray even their own mother for money. For sure there was someone high up in the PN organisation who was passing on critical information to the Labour Party during Simon Busuttil’s leadership. The PN deputy general secretary during Simon Busuttil’s tenure, and his MP wife, went straight ahead pushing Adrian Delia for leadership soon after the June 2017 election result, campaigning for a man who had dabbled in proceeds originating from immoral business (prostitution) and who is drowning in personal debt and failure to pay his taxes due. I cannot understand how and why PN party members and councillors could vote for such a sure political failure, one who would so obviously end up like play-dough in the hands of Joseph Muscat, the Artful Dodger.

      Yes, I do conclude that Joseph Muscat has managed to buy top PN administrators on the same lines that he had bought so many others, from journalists such as Lou Bondi and whole media houses such as the Times of Malta and Malta Today, and so many others.

      Joseph Muscat’s vast financial reserves are being used not only to stay hidden in some third world bank but are also being invested ‘wisely’ locally. The returns on this ‘investment’ are massive.

      My assessment of the general situation as it is today is not the consequence of the June 2017 election result. I had predicted all this after the March 2013 election result. It was so obvious that Joseph Muscat’s election campaign was funded by people other than Labour supporters. It was so obvious that his promises were too good to be true, and when one promises you things that are too good to be true please consider them as too good to be true and are false. From Malta Taghna Lkoll to the LNG power station, it was all a fake. For me it was so clear that Muscat’s aims were not to improve on the PN’s vast achievements, but to milk them for his own end and that of his cronies at the expense of the people and their future.

      That Muscat would rig the 2018, which turned out to be 2017 election was for me a sure thing, because, first of all, that was what Labour did in the eighties, and secondly there was no way for him to win a second election honestly. I stand to believe that the Maltese people, who had voted for 25 years for a string of PN administrations which transformed Malta from a banana republic into a first world micro-economy within the EU would not let all that be destroyed by massive corruption that has destroyed Malta’s reputation.

      The Maltese did not want that, even if polls may have shown otherwise. Many people were afraid to declare their support for Simon Busuttil for fear of retributions either to themselves or their close relatives working in the public sector or other private sectors depending on government contract. I, for one, always refused to take part in polls. Even in other countries, polls have been going awry for years.

  • Bonzo

    It is Adrian Delia and those behind him who are strengthening Labour’s position and dismantling the PN. I am not a ‘true Nationalist’; I have principles and when the PN abandons those principles, I abandon the PN.

    I hope that makes sense to you.

    • Maximus

      If you read the part which referred to a number of decent and honest MP’s I mentioned, you would also recognise that the PN has not fully abandoned its principles.
      Honestly, at this point, I would vote any other than Labour. PN is in the opposition.

      PD is not a serious party. AD is a labour socialist splinter group.

  • Sally Anne

    Excellent pieces straight and clear. Prosit Pete Ross

  • Sally Anne

    Yes convenience used to belong to Kieth prolly still does.