Bernard Grech and the lack of good governance

The way the Nationalist Party is completely ignoring the party financing law is scandalous and raises questions about why the Electoral Commission is remaining silent on this issue.

Dr Bernard Grech’s main support in the Nationalist Party comes from those elements who purport to be upholders of good governance. And yet, Grech’s management of the Nationalist Party has proven to be anything but that.

His initial reaction to media questions some months ago on why the Nationalist Party has not published either its donation reports or its financial accounts for the last two years was that this was not true and that everything was in order. When faced with clear proof that he was being liberal with the truth, he then told the media that there were technical issues. When pressed further, he said that this was due to a lack of human resources.

Yes, you are reading correctly. The leader of the Party that is supposed to be the Government in waiting does not have the human resources to prepare financial accounts covering its daily operations. Meanwhile, much smaller political parties have managed to do so well within the timescales required by the Electoral Commission.

The Nationalist Party is somehow able to find time to borrow from third parties, for instance using the infamous ċedoli scheme, and yet it cannot manage to prepare the donation reports required by law. These should have been presented within 60 days after the end of 2021 and 2022. We are now in the final days of 2023 and the reports are still nowhere to be seen. This should carry a maximum fine of €20,000 under current party financing laws.

Rest assured that these fines, even if imposed, will remain unpaid like the fines imposed by other agencies, such as the Broadcasting Authority. There is simply no money to pay for anything, and they would end up in the pile of debt that is the PN’s balance sheet.

To scare off competition, after the general election defeat, in early 2022 Bernard Grech warned possible contenders that the Nationalist Party had debts of €32 million. In the last financial accounts that the Party had deposited with the Electoral Commission, at the end of 2020 the party’s liabilities stood at less than €11 million.

This can mean one of two things. Either Bernard Grech lied to delegates of the party when he said the party had liabilities of €32 million, or somehow, in less than a year and a half, Bernard Grech managed to nearly triple the Nationalist Party’s debt. Now, no one fancies Grech to be some financial guru, but to think that he would manage to so mismanage things as to increase the debt of the Nationalist Party by an average of one and a half million euro a month beggars belief.

The shadiness of the Nationalist Party’s financial operations is a prime reason why they should not be trusted anywhere near power. Would you trust your future to someone who thinks it is fair enough first to lie about publishing their accounts, and then to argue that they do not have the people to even do their accounts?

The way the Nationalist Party is completely ignoring the party financing law is scandalous and raises questions about why the Electoral Commission is remaining silent on this issue. Why is the Nationalist Party being allowed to flout the law? And why are the supposed paladins of good governance not raising hell about this affront?      

As always, there seems to be one law for the Labour Party and another for the Nationalist Party.

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