Driving

The Malta Employers’ Association (MEA), in a statement on Tuesday (today), expressed its strong condemnation of the recent scandals involving benefit fraud and driving test licenses. It stated that these incidents “are clear evidence that there are serious Government issues in Malta which are affecting its international reputation and many aspects of people’s lives’.”

The Association added that “covering for such scandals” under the pretext that this is the normal functioning of the political system is unacceptable and sends a dangerous message to all sectors of Maltese society.

It stated that Prime Minister Robert Abela’s pronouncement in this respect is a “radical invitation to anarchy which encourages individuals and businesses to bypass what should be established and trusted structures to either get fast tracked to obtain what they are eligible for, or worse, to acquire entitlements which they should never have at the expense of others.”

MEA believes that this attitude provides future administrations justification to conduct their affairs in a similar manner. “This is not the way a political system should work at all.”

On Sunday, The Sunday Times revealed hundreds of WhatsApp messages between Transport Malta Director Clint Mansueto and Minister Ian Borg, OPM officials and others who told him to help a friend-of-a-friend in need to make sure that certain test candidates are either bumped up the queue or get assistance during their test.

To summarise, these candidates – mostly stemming from Minister Borg’s district, had to pass their driver test at all costs. Unless the vehicle came back “splattered in blood”, of course.

Earlier, TOM also revealed a years-long benefits fraud racket that former Labour MP Silvio Grixti has been implicated. This enables hundreds of people to receive monthly disability benefits they were not eligible for.

The Association added that it is impossible to “justify” the correspondence that has exposed blatant corruption practices and “that makes one question whether those who are driving vehicles on our roads are fit to do so. How can car insurance companies assess risk in such circumstances?”

It also remarked that these abuses are helping a few or partisan interests at the expense of potentially destroying many people’s lives. “Seen against a backdrop where it is known that phantom jobs were dished out from Castille, where hundreds of people have been abusively awarded health benefits, where business organisations have repeatedly been calling for better transparency in public procurement, one can only wonder how widespread the culture of nepotism is, and to what extent corruption has been normalised in our society.”

The MEA concluded that what is expected is a clear condemnation of any tampering with the established channels and systems that make us a civilised society, an apology for what has occurred, a commitment by both political parties to step back from partisan meddling and criminal and disciplinary proceedings against all those involved, whatever their rank, status or political affiliation. “Only then will we be able to steer back to a semblance of normalcy.”

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