As published on The Malta Today on Wednesday 29th January 2013
The stark reality is that all is not rosy in our garden. Just remember¸ for an instance¸ the misgivings in administration of public funds as reported by the National Audit Office (NAO) on a number of government agencies. Can Malta turn over a new leaf in this legislature to avoid the scathing remarks disclosed in the past audits conducted by NAO?
Everyone knows it is important for a young nation to undergo a reality check and focus on how to start repaying the mountain of debt which¸ together with Government guarantees¸ now exceeds 90% level of GDP. There is no more family silver to sell or to pawn as this has been sold under the baton of the privatisation unit during the past decade. Regrettably¸ with both Air Malta and Enemalta being the last bastions of government owned-assets¸ their values do not feature high on the auction league.
Still¸ we are constantly reminded (even by EU) that our rate of growth is exemplary at 1.9% when compared with Med countries which are either shrinking or showing zero growth. The fly in the ointment is workers participation rate – this is amongst the lowest in Europe as regards females (only 44%) so one can argue that with a lower participation rate then it stands to reason that automatically our unemployment rate at 6.8% is comparatively low. One still recalls that last year¸ citizens have been subjected to a slew of golden pledges all wrapped up in glossy leaflets distributed at homes forming part of a carefully-worded manifesto.
Yes¸ it is no exaggeration to say that all political parties had promised us a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Give us your coveted Number One and the lottery prize is yours… but then¸ party propaganda forgets to refer to the warnings uttered over the years in the modified audit reports printed in green type by the Auditor General.
In my article I wish to give readers a collage of salient recommendations issued to Parliament by the NAO to address the shortcomings in the governance and general administration of public funds. To start with¸ one cannot omit to mention scathing reports for 2011/2 issued last December¸ wherein NAO cut no corners in presenting an impressive dossier spiced with instances where mismanagement was observed.
Studying the report in an objective manner and keeping in mind that the general service spends millions each year to employ qualified internal control officers to observe a solid procurement policy¸ one still meets with an indictment of bad governance and maladministration. That begs the question whether we learnt any lessons from the slack administration which has led Greece to ruin.
Cynics may well ask if it is one massive “cash and carry “ treasure trove where taxpayers’ monies are spent in a manner that¸ for instance the oil procurement scandal does send shivers down the backs of the honest taxpayers who strive to pay