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NGO Commissioner’s Resignation Was Forced Through By Prime Minister’s Office

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Malta’s Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations was asked to submit his resignation by the Office of the Prime Minister, he has told Lovin Malta. 

This morning it was reported that Anthony Abela Medici, who has been the Commissioner since 2018, had submitted his resignation following interference by Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima, into an audit he had requested into hundreds of unvetted annual returns submitted by the country’s various voluntary organisations. 

Speaking to Lovin Malta, Abela Medici denied he had resigned because of any interference on Grima’s part. Grima has also categorically denied having interfered with Abela Medici’s work. 

“Clifton Grima never told me to stop the audit but someone did. It was meant to start today at 11am at the Auditor General’s office,” Abela Medici said. 

He said that he had been asked to submit his resignation without any reason on Monday. “If the Commissioner is removed, the audit must stop,” he said. 

Pressed about who had asked him for his resignation, Abela Medici said the request had come from above Grima, from the Office of the Prime Minister. 

Abela Medici confirmed that he had recently requested statistics about the number of unvetted annual returns in order to compile his office’s annual report, adding that he was surprised to find there were close to 2,000 unvetted applications. 

He wouldn’t speculate on why the applications had remained unvetted by pointing out that wanting that question answered was a part of the reason for his request for an auditor general investigation. 

Abela Medici noted that in addition to obligations laid down in the Voluntary Organisations Act, a circular had also recently been issued by the Finance Ministry stating that no funds could be given to organisations that were not enrolled and compliant.

Another issue raised by Abela Medici was the fact that voluntary organisations with less than €50,000 are entitled to apply for a tax exemption. He questioned how tax compliance certificates could be issued if organisations’ annual returns had not been vetted. 

Ultimately, he said that as commissioner he was responsible for voluntary organisations and that it was therefore both in his interest, and the public interest, to have the audit. 

Abela Medici recently made the headlines after he was accused by civil society group Repubblika of acting on behalf of the Prime Minister to silence it by threatening it with de-listing as a voluntary organisation.

 

Lovin Malta has reached out to the Office of the Prime Minister for comment.

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