More than 75 days after it was announced that the entire Cabinet is facing a magisterial inquiry for Facebook misuse, it seems no minister has yet been called in by the magistrate to testify.
Lovin Malta last Sunday asked Prime Minister Robert Abela why the government was refusing to answer basic questions about the Cabinet’s Facebook use, after several Freedom of Information requests were rejected. In his reply, he let slip that the magisterial inquiry has not yet demanded this information of Cabinet members.
“As you know, the Standards Commissioner concluded his report, and after it was concluded there was a process by which a magistrate began investigating. As far as I’m informed, no member of Cabinet has been asked to testify with the magistrate. Naturally, all information requested will be given,” Abela said, without specifying why that same information is not being given to the press even in Freedom of Information requests.
Magistrate Doreen Clarke launched her inquiry earlier this year following a report by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler which found “widespread misuse of public resources” by ministers and parliamentary secretaries on their personal Facebook pages.
The report was triggered by a complaint filed by Lovin Malta after it became clear that ministers were using public funds and resources to boost their own Facebook pages instead of setting up official ministry pages.
Incomplete figures made public some years ago showed that at least €1.2 million were spent by ministries on social media over a 55-month period despite most ministries not having official Facebook pages.
Many ministries have since launched official Facebook pages but there has been no indication yet that the millions of public funds abusively poured into politicians’ personal social media pages will be reimbursed.
Lovin Malta’s show Kaxxaturi has raised over €6,000 on a campaign aimed at raising awareness about this misuse of public funds, requesting a comprehensive audit into the problem and demanding a full refund of any misspent taxpayer money.