Malta’s reputation has been under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons over the past few weeks. Malta went through years of alleged corruption and a cash for passport scheme which raised several eyebrows across the European Union Member States. These corruption claims which tarnished Malta’s reputation culminated the recent allegations implicating key members of the Labour administration in the murder case of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
These allegations led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, which paved the way for Robert Abela to take the helm. The first key priority of this new Prime Minister is to restore Malta’s reputation, which was synonymous with a country of excellence, particularly in the financial services realm. Saving a country’s reputation is by no means an easy feat. Building reputation takes years and all that work can be undone with just a few mishaps.
So what can the current Prime Minister do to solve the predicament that Malta finds itself in?
In order to gain trust and credibility, Robert Abela would be wise to launch a proper investigation on both Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. Although people may argue that there are no hard facts which prove their guilt, there is simply too much smoke around these two. The fact that the new Prime Minister opens an independent investigation against these two is a clear sign of intent that he will not tolerate corruption. Together with this initiative, the hospital privatisation deal must be suspended, and a police commissioner of repute needs to be appointed.
Cosmetic changes would not be sufficient to fix the reputational damage which has plagued Malta over these past few weeks. Considering that Malta’s reputation and corruption claims were predominant themes in international media, tangible actions together with a proper campaign should be executed.
Another important factor that should be considered is the publication of the Electrogas power station contract since certain parts of it were never published. Considering that there is a lot of controversy surrounding this contract, it should be published in full.
Going forward, Government should also consider the positions given to backbenchers and whether these put them in positions of conflict of interest. Certain positions are looked at suspiciously and most presume that these are given simply to keep such backbenchers happy.
Malta’s name requires a thorough cleansing. Once this is achieved, the country will then be able to continue building upon solid foundations, earning back the respect of other EU Member States.