Let us move forward

In its analysis of the conclusions of the inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Times of Malta editorial of August 3 (‘Another knock to reputation’) makes a clear, concise and hard-hitting comment: “The gap between political rhetoric and reality poses the biggest threat to the restoration of Malta’s reputation.”

Nothing is truer than this and nothing can risk giving further damaging blows to our reputation than the reality that this statement exposes. There is need for an assessment of the official reactions following the FATF greylisting decision, the UK’s decision to classify Malta as a “high-risk jurisdiction” for regulatory and compliance matters and those following the damning conclusions of the inquiry report evidence this gravely-worrying trend.

It is precisely this chasm between political rhetoric and reality that has derailed many an opinion and obstructed many a judgement, thus contributing to bringing us here in the first place.

Throughout all this period, we were being publicly assured that our institutions were working well, that criticism of the manner in which hundreds of millions worth of contracts were awarded was merely a negative opposition which had lost its touch with the business community, that Malta was being spearheaded in a cool and crisp business-like fashion to be nothing less than the best in Europe. The gap with the truth of the situation could not have been wider.

If we are led into this trap once again, the consequences this time will be far worse. This is what the Nationalist Party has understood, identified and drawn attention to from day one. This is what, to date, the government has failed to acknowledge.

In all the reactions coming from across the board following the greylisting by FATF, there was one call that has not been heeded enough.

Bernard Grech has emphatically insisted that government should give full and unrestricted access to the documentation that led to the FATF greylisting decision. Taking stock of conclusions is not enough; light needs to be shed on the underlying whys and wherefores as a necessary requirement for remedial action.

There were formal exchanges bet­ween the government and FATF itself that led up to the final decision to have us greylisted. There is the final report itself, which would detail not only the principal reasons behind this decision but would also list the main actions that this country is expected to take in order to move back to where it rightfully belongs. All this is precious and vital information required to study, plan and execute an exit strategy.

The debate on how we got here and who is responsible for this is an essentially political issue which most definitely needs to be both addressed and assessed. There is and will certainly be a time and place for this debate, as the prejudicial effects of this greylisting start to reach wider and deeper.The government should give full and unrestricted access to the documentation that led to the FATF greylisting decision– Alex Perici Calascione

Separate to this, however, the urgency of the matter lies elsewhere. A collective national effort is required and the sooner this is coordinated, the better. There is simply no time to waste.

The publication of the inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia has quite expectedly sparked a wide debate, which will linger as indeed it must and should, on the collective and individual responsibilities that still have to render account for their actions and omissions. It also, however, highlighted the way forward, for all to see, consider and act upon. The nation knows the way it needs to respond because the report and its conclusions and proposals have been made known publicly.

We need to have exactly the same approach if we are to respond validly to the huge burden that the FATF classification has thrown on our collective shoulders as the direct result of the personal road map to riches of the few, a road map laced with unbridled arrogance and guided by the expectations of impunity, that impunity which, beyond all political rhetoric and superficial actions, still persists.

Until now, official reactions have ranged from ‘no problem’, to a call to MCESD members to help identify tax dodgers, to the prime minister urging the financial services industry to focus more on servicing local clients. These reactions alone give a clear indication of the real entity of the situa­tion we are currently in.

At the same time, the government has declared that it will be doubling its efforts and throwing money at strengthening a number of national institutions. We have, however, heard this all before. We have experienced the gap between such declarations and the parallel reality that reigned and which brought us to where we are today.

This is a national issue. The way we act or fail to act at this stage will determine whether we do, as we should and definitely can, get out of this sooner rather than damagingly later.

Publish the FATF documentation.

Give it to MCESD partners so they participate directly in the national effort to clear Malta’s name and put it back where it deserves to be and do not just call upon them to rant out their wayward colleagues.

Give it to the financial services industry so they can bring to the table their wealth of experience and expertise for the benefit of our jurisdiction in which they operate and we live, our jurisdiction so full of potential and promise, thwarted and undermined by the protagonists of l-Aqwa żmien, the stuff that our worst nightmares are made of.

Share it with the opposition, which, from day one, took a positive, non-partisan, forward-looking and determined stand to join forces in a national effort to assess, plan and act to overcome this hurdle.

“Closing the rhetoric-reality gap is now a top priority. There is no time to waste” (Times of Malta editorial of August 3). Indeed, it is and, indeed, precious time has been wasted already.

Let us move forward. We can, we have all the resources and capabilities out there to do so, sooner rather than later. We must, all of us, act now.

If we are led into this trap once again, the consequences this time will be far worse. This is what the Nationalist Party has understood, identified and drawn attention to from day one. This is what, to date, the government has failed to acknowledge.

In all the reactions coming from across the board following the greylisting by FATF, there was one call that has not been heeded enough.

Bernard Grech has emphatically insisted that government should give full and unrestricted access to the documentation that led to the FATF greylisting decision. Taking stock of conclusions is not enough; light needs to be shed on the underlying whys and wherefores as a necessary requirement for remedial action.

There were formal exchanges bet­ween the government and FATF itself that led up to the final decision to have us greylisted. There is the final report itself, which would detail not only the principal reasons behind this decision but would also list the main actions that this country is expected to take in order to move back to where it rightfully belongs. All this is precious and vital information required to study, plan and execute an exit strategy.

The debate on how we got here and who is responsible for this is an essentially political issue which most definitely needs to be both addressed and assessed. There is and will certainly be a time and place for this debate, as the prejudicial effects of this greylisting start to reach wider and deeper.

Separate to this, however, the urgency of the matter lies elsewhere. A collective national effort is required and the sooner this is coordinated, the better. There is simply no time to waste.

The publication of the inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia has quite expectedly sparked a wide debate, which will linger as indeed it must and should, on the collective and individual responsibilities that still have to render account for their actions and omissions. It also, however, highlighted the way forward, for all to see, consider and act upon. The nation knows the way it needs to respond because the report and its conclusions and proposals have been made known publicly.

We need to have exactly the same approach if we are to respond validly to the huge burden that the FATF classification has thrown on our collective shoulders as the direct result of the personal road map to riches of the few, a road map laced with unbridled arrogance and guided by the expectations of impunity, that impunity which, beyond all political rhetoric and superficial actions, still persists.

Until now, official reactions have ranged from ‘no problem’, to a call to MCESD members to help identify tax dodgers, to the prime minister urging the financial services industry to focus more on servicing local clients. These reactions alone give a clear indication of the real entity of the situa­tion we are currently in.

At the same time, the government has declared that it will be doubling its efforts and throwing money at strengthening a number of national institutions. We have, however, heard this all before. We have experienced the gap between such declarations and the parallel reality that reigned and which brought us to where we are today.

This is a national issue. The way we act or fail to act at this stage will determine whether we do, as we should and definitely can, get out of this sooner rather than damagingly later.

Publish the FATF documentation.

Give it to MCESD partners so they participate directly in the national effort to clear Malta’s name and put it back where it deserves to be and do not just call upon them to rant out their wayward colleagues.

Give it to the financial services industry so they can bring to the table their wealth of experience and expertise for the benefit of our jurisdiction in which they operate and we live, our jurisdiction so full of potential and promise, thwarted and undermined by the protagonists of l-Aqwa żmien, the stuff that our worst nightmares are made of.

Share it with the opposition, which, from day one, took a positive, non-partisan, forward-looking and determined stand to join forces in a national effort to assess, plan and act to overcome this hurdle.

“Closing the rhetoric-reality gap is now a top priority. There is no time to waste” (Times of Malta editorial of August 3). Indeed, it is and, indeed, precious time has been wasted already.

Let us move forward. We can, we have all the resources and capabilities out there to do so, sooner rather than later. We must, all of us, act now.

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