Castille square (fotolia - no need to credit)

The Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) stressed the need for the separation of business from politics following the latest Eurobarometer findings which revealed that the overwhelming majority of the public believed corruption was part of the country’s business culture.

“For years the association has been saying that the situation has been deteriorating, but there is an unwillingness to tackle the issues concretely,” read the MEA’s statement.

The Eurobarometer found that 92 per cent of the public believed corruption was widespread in Malta, 87 per cent believed corruption was part of the country’s business culture, and 79 per cent believed there was rampant bribery and abuse of power.

“It does not take Eurobarometer to conclude that many businesses believe that they can only succeed if they have the right political connections, with a majority stating that we have an issue with nepotism and patronage.”

The MEA argued that the Eurobarometer revealed that there was no level playing field between businesses, which is critical in ensuring a healthy competitive environment that generates investment and jobs.

It said that the country was sliding down a dangerous path which leads to equating entrepreneurship with opportunism, where the concept of business success is more dependent on political contacts than on creative vision and risk taking.

“This does not bode well for both domestic and foreign direct investment, as more honest businesses will have to choose between either riding with the flow or to seek business opportunities elsewhere.”

The MEA reiterated the need to implement reforms which include:

  • A leaner parliament with full-time, better paid members
  • Political parties to be exclusively state-funded. All private donations and door to door collections to be made illegal
  • Full disclosure of contracts, remuneration, packages of persons of trust
  • Periodic independent audits of persons of trust to assess time spent, activities and results achieved
  • All contracts signed by the Government with third parties to be made public within three months from the date of signing
  • No binding agreements with entities whose ultimate beneficiaries are unknown
  • Parameters for public procurement through direct orders to be respected and enforced

“Although these proposals are fundamental, there is nothing controversial about them. They should appeal to anyone who believes that sustainable businesses and the well-being of society is dependent on a sound moral and ethical infrastructure to ensure that success and achievement are based on merit and hard work, rather than on political connections.”

The MEA said that although these issues were raised at the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development, constant reinforcement was required by social partners to bring politicians to their senses.

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