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Sunday Program 27 November, 2016.

Presented by Peter Paul Portelli, Pauline Zahra, Josephine Dimech, Mary Abela and George Sammut.

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, 3 December, 2016.

 

Sajjieda Nadurin, go Dahlet Qorrot fl-1930

Ritratt minn Mario Muscat

Philip Rizzo makes damning accusations in resignation letter; Education minister denies cover-up

Philip Rizzo, Foundation of Tomorrow Schools CEO, has made a number of accusations against Education Minister Evarist Bartolo and his permanent secretary in his resignation letter submitted yesterday, which the minister argues are baseless and false.

The resignation letter, as well as the responses by the minister and his permanent secretary were published by the Education Ministry. 

It was previously reported that Mr Rizzo resigned after making allegations regarding corruption over issuing direct orders for the renovation of state schools.

In his resignation letter addressed to the Education Ministry's Permanent Secretary Joseph Caruana, Mr Rizzo says that his medically-certified ill health results from "profound disappointment at the discovery of serious breaches of government procurement regulations and of the criminal code and, more so, of your ministry's hesitancy over a considerable number of months to appropriately discipline the prima facie prime culprit in good time".

Mr Rizzo said that he repulses the "pathetic attempt" of the minister to suggest that his current mental state is the result of "any mere altercation" at work last October.

"He has known the true reasons since the last week of April, and he repeatedly attempted to dissuade me from formalising my discovery of serious multiple wrongdoings (primarily committed by a member of your own family) until the last day of August 2016," Mr Rizzo claims.

It was this incident, of which details were not revealed in the exchange, that caused Mr Rizzo to lose his trust in the Education Ministry. "Indeed I have since come to the sad conclusion that the differences of ethics and appreciation and application of the law between myself and yourselves is unable to change through time, making it impossible for me to remain in the position of CEO of the Foundation for Tomorrow Schools (FTS)".

"What finally broke my back was that on 6 September 2016, the newly appointed FTS Chairman, Dr Emanuel Camilleri, ruled that, contrary to my suggestion, the FTS Board should not call the OPM's Internal Audit and Investigations Directorate (IAID) to investigate the suspicions of multiple economic crimes that FTS' Executive Management had uncovered because, in his words, 'we would be disturbing his (Dr Camilleri's) analysis of the FTS' internal and external environment'".

He goes on to say that as a result, he had to file evidence with the economic crimes police on a personal basis rather than while representing the FTS Board or the ministry.

"Despite my resignation, I will continue to co-operate with the police, the IAID and the Permanent Commission against Corruption (which summoned me to provide documentary evidence). I will remain loyal to my own professional formation and experience as an auditor, to ensuring that public funds are properly and adequately used according to law and that the wrongdoings of specific individuals does not overshadow the sterling work done by most public officers".

Minister refutes cover-up claims

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo received and accepted the resignation of Philip Rizzo as head of the Foundation for Tomorrow Schools, while denying allegations made against him.

Minister Bartolo attached his own letter which is in reply to Mr Rizzo's.

The minister states that all of Mr Rizzo's insinuations of a cover-up organised by the minister are being strongly refuted in their entirety. "If you have any evidence to back up these allegations, you are being strongly encouraged to forward them to the authorities".

The minister makes reference to two transfers out of the Pembroke Head Office, saying that he never interfered and that Mr Rizzo was given full independence as to how he would carry out the necessary reforms at FTS.

"There is no basis in your remark that there was any pressure whatsoever to stop you from making formal reports".

The minister also states that the independent structure of the Foundation, as well as good governance mean that Mr Rizzo had no need to get any direct or indirect approval to make any report whatsoever "as it is your duty at law to bring any wrongdoing to the competent authorities"

The minister also denied ever making any reference to Mr Rizzo's mental state or mental health.

The press statement read that Minister Bartolo sent both Mr Rizzo's letter, as well as his own response to the Commission Against Corruption, the Internal Audit and Investigations Department and the Police Commissioner. It also adds that the Permanent Secretary, Joseph Caruana, has done the same.

Permanent Secretary Joseph Caruana also issued a reply to Mr Rizzo, in which he says that Mr Rizzo was at "complete liberty on the operational and management front of the entity. As CEO you were at duty to report any allegations of wrongdoing without any delay whatsoever".

Mr Caruana also took umbrage at the allegation that the ministry stopped him from making filing any complaints on any allegations.

"May I remind you that when you presented these allegations you were instructed to go to the police, however it was the ministry who reported these allegations first on 12 September 2016, after you informed the FTS Chairperson that you would delay to do so until 26 September," Mr Caruana said. He added that the ministry felt that any delay in reporting the allegations to the police was unacceptable.

"On 27 September 2016 the ministry also lodged a report with the IAID to make sure there was no stone left unturned in dealing with these allegations".

FTS Chairman responds

FTS Chairman Emanuel Camilleri released a press release of his own, stating that he strongly denies that he blocked any report being made to the Police.

"On the contrary, the FTS Chairperson wrote to Mr Rizzo on 1st September 2016 to instruct him to take any action deemed necessary in light of the allegations," an FTS statement read..

"The FTS Chairperson has always acted with integrity when approached with alleged wrongdoing. From day one action has been taken through the preparation of a strategic plan which has been formulated with the goal of strengthening various audit controls related to the financial and procurement regulations at FTS".

My father would have suffered a stroke if he saw what Mizzi, Schembri did – Mark A Sammut

"If my father was still alive and saw what Minister Konrad Mizzi and Chief of Staff Keith Schembri did, he would have suffered a stroke," Dr Mark Anthony Sammut said.

Dr Sammut, who is the son of author and cultural consultant to former Prime Minister Alfred Sant Frans Sammut, was referring to the Panama Papers scandal while being interviewed by Rachel Attard, News Editor of The Malta Independent, on INDEPTH.

Dr Sammut not only criticised Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his government but also gave reasons why the Nationalist Party leader Dr Simon Busuttil is the only attractive alternative for this country. He said that the government handled the Panama Papers scandal poorly.

"If Dr Muscat took Dr Alfred Sant and Minister Evarist Bartolo's advice, that he should tell Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri to step down, I would have seen the situation differently," Dr Sammut, who twice contested the general election for the Labour Party, said.

He added that the "audit that the Prime Minister launched will lead to nowhere."

Dr Sammut launched his latest book L-Aqwa fl-Ewropa. Il-Panama Papers u l-Poter a few weeks ago.  The content of this book was discussed during the programme along with other issues.   

 

Friday, 2 December, 2016.

 

Nadur in pictures

Limits of Ta' Xhajma in-Nadur

By Mario Muscat

Water and electricity bills will continue to decrease despite international oil price spike of 9%

Despite an international price of oil increase by nine per cent, water and electricity bills will continue to decrease thanks to efforts in the energy sector to remove the any dependency on the price of oil.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this in reaction to the announcement that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will be cutting the supply of oil in order to bolster prices. OPEC has made similar announcements over the past year due to the plummeting price of oil, however previously it could not get all members to stick to the agreement. 

Along with this fresh announcement however, Russia also agreed to cut the production of oil by three percent. 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that had the government not made the effort to switch to gas, today it would be “scratching its head” trying to figure out how to announce an increase of water and electricity by almost 10 per cent. 

Prime Minister state visit in Europe ends today in Budapest

Immigration was one of the main topics discussed during a state visit that the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had in Budapest, Hungary. During this meeting Prime Minister Muscat and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that even though they have differet national poisiotin on migration, today's talks were not about a national agenda but as EU Presidency.

Dr Muscat said that today's "meeting has helped us to understand each other and this progress can only be achieved through an open dialogue."

Both sides also discussed investment between Malta and Hungary, with Prime Minister Orban expresses its satisfaction to the Maltese business in Hungary. Dr Muscat also mentioned that there should be more flights between Malta and Hungary because this will increase tourism for the two countries.

Accompanying Dr Muscat during these state visits were, Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech, Foreign Minister George Vella and parliamentary secretary Ian Borg.


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