As many as 11 chairmen of public entities will be contesting the election on behalf of the Labour Party in government.
Despite potential ethical problems and conflicts of interest, none of the prospective candidates have so far felt they should step down. Although they are not breaching rules, because the 1994 code of ethics for members of public boards does not oblige them to leave their positions, observers told Times of Malta that prudence would have appealed to resign.
“For me, it is obvious they should step down once officially becoming electoral candidates,” Kenneth Wain, who lectures ethics at the University of Malta said.
“The reason is simple. They are expected to act in their position in an independent and autonomous way. Once they’ve become political candidates they have compromised their position,” he added.
“There is also the matter of potential conflicts of interest between their decisions as chairmen of public entities and their political interests.”
Once they’ve become political candidates they have compromised their position
For Edward Warrington, a University lecturer and a specialist on governance of micro-states, this is just a question of prudence rather than ethics.
He said that although the chairmen-candidates were not breaching regulations, “it would be desirable to have a separation of the two roles”.
Pointing out there was nothing illegal, Dr Warrington said all parties, whether Labour or Nationalists, had made somersaults in an effort to ensure people supporting them would stand for office.
“However, there could be conflicts of interest and I would prefer that a candidate [occupying a public office] stands down when deciding to contest an election,” he insisted.
Some of the 11 chairmen of state entities contesting the election are employed full time (see table). Aaron Farrugia, who soon after Labour’s election to power was made chairman and CEO of the Malta Freeport Corporation, and Sigmund Mifsud, who chairs the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, are among them.
Also on the list are former Labour MP Gavin Gulia, chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority, and former Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, who was retained as chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology even after the change of government.
Under PN administrations led by Eddie Fenech Adami, MPs were precluded from having chairmanships or any other roles in government boards.
However, in the second Gonzi administration Dr Pullicino Orlando had been appointed as MCST chairman and Ċensu Galea chairman of the Building Industry Consultative Council though they were members of the House.
Labour’s chairmen in every district:
|Luciano Busuttil||Sports Malta|
|Deo Debattista||Health and Safety Authority|
|Aaron Farrugia||Malta Freeport Corporation|
|Silvio Parnis||Consultative Council South|
|Kenneth Spiteri||Mediterranean Conference Centre|
|Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi||Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation|
|Gavin Gulia||Malta Tourism Authority|
|Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando||Malta Council for Science and Technology|
|Silvio Schembri||Responsible Gaming Foundation|
|Sigmund Mifsud||Malta Philharmonic Orchestra|
|Joe Cordina||Gozo Channel|