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No Reply From Prime Minister To Damning Social Media Report Into Cabinet Members

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Prime Minister Robert Abela has not yet given any public response to a damning report by the Standards Commissioner about the misuse of public resources by members of his Cabinet.

It has been more than a week since Commissioner George Hyzler published a report confirming “widespread misuse of public resources” on social media by ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

Ministers have for years used their own personal social media pages as official lines of communication instead of setting up official ministry pages.

“In this way, they are using public resources to raise their own personal and political profiles. This represents the misuse of public resources and a blurring of their roles as members of the executive and as politicians. This practice should be discontinued,” Hyzler concluded in his report after sampling the pages of just five ministers.

According to information that had been published in Parliament, ministries spend around €25,000 per month on Facebook boosts alone (€1.2 million in a 55-month period). This has prompted calls for an Auditor General inquiry and Cabinet members to pay back misused money.

Lovin Malta, which called for the Standards Commissioner’s to investigate the matter last year, has written to Abela for his reaction to the report.

However, no reply has been forthcoming.

Among other things, Abela was asked whether he ever gave legal advice on the matter in his role as the legal consultant to Cabinet.

Lovin Malta has also asked for a copy of the social media guidelines that have been given to ministers.

Meanwhile, some ministers have regularised their positions in the past few days, including deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri and Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.

It is understood that all Cabinet members have been instructed to make a clear distinction between their personal and official pages. Abela was asked whether he has given a deadline to all ministers to fall in line. 

The Prime Minister has failed to answer Lovin Malta’s questions by the time of publishing, including whether he would support the idea of Cabinet members returning public funds.

NGO Repubblika had asked the Prime Minister to demand an investigation by the National Audit Office and to ensure any misused money was returned to the treasury.

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