Malta’s members of Parliament cannot possibly hope to serve the nation like their counterparts in other countries because of the part-time nature of their role and a severe lack of resources, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said this afternoon.
Speaking in Parliament on the 100-year anniversary of the institution’s establishment, Grech called for MPs to be better equipped to scrutinise the government and its work.
“We are the only Parliament that thinks it can serve its people with part-time work, no research and no resources,” Grech said.
Malta’s Parliament, he said, was not equipped to deal with the requirements of a modern democracy.
“Times change, and today’s times require a greater commitment by MPs, who need to understand the realities around us,” Grech said.
Referring to comments by Prime Minister Robert Abela, for the need for more technocrats in government, Grech said that as a starting point, the country needed to understand why talented professionals did not seriously consider a career in politics.
“Professionals and youths are staying away from politics for the same reason that 70% of youngsters say they want to leave the country,” he said, adding that Malta needed to clean up its politics.
It wasn’t sustainable, Grech insisted, for Parliament to have to waste so much time discussing the behaviour of Labour MPs.
Above all, he said Parliament needed to once again become the institution that scrutinises the government. He said this applied to both MPs of the Opposition and government benches.
“How can backbenchers on the government’s side hold it to account when they are all bought. What scrutiny can you expect from MPs who are bought? There’s no point celebrating 100 years if we’re going to keep taking the nation for a ride,” he said.
Grech added that it wasn’t just government MPs who needed to get their act together, pointing to ministers who often did not answer parliamentary questions, or who didn’t bother being in the chamber when their replies were given.
Finally, referring to former minister Konrad Mizzi’s repeated refusal to appear before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, Grech said that Parliament needed to have more respect for itself and needed to do better to demand accountability from its members.
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