Parliament approves Second Reading of Bill on the appointment of persons of trust

The House of Representatives has approved the Second Reading of the Bill on the appointment of persons of trust  which has the aim of regulating this sector while giving power to the Commissioner of Standards in Public Life to send the results of any discovery of corruption directly to the Attorney General.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Governance, Edward Zammit Lewis who presented the Bill said that this will signify another reform in the rule of law because it will mean that these people will be regulated. He also addressed the concerns of the Commissioner for Standards about this sector however he did not completely agree with the opinions of the same Commissioner, among which was that he is not in favour of changing the article in the Constitution about public employees.

Referring to acts of corruption, he said that not all of these are considered to be financial crimes.  He said that a definition was introduced in the law according to the law which was set up by the Permanent Commission against Corruption, whereby the Commissioner for Standards will investigate and send a report to the Attorney General who will decide whether a financial crime was committed.

He said that civil service employees and those in the public sector will continue to be regulated by the Commissioner for Public Service even if they serve for some time as persons of trust. Minister Zammit Lewis said that prior to 2013 there were persons of trust who retained their position because when they ended their term, they were given compensation which was larger than what a Minister received in those days. Minister Zammit Lewis appealed to the Opposition to unite with the Government in this reform as well.

Opposition spokesperson Karol Aquilina insisted that public employees who serve as a person of a trust should fall under the scrutiny of the Commissioner for Public Standards. He also said he does not agree that the Commissioner should stop his investigation into corruption if the Police are investigating. He added that the Commissioner should be allowed to complete his own investigation. He said that people of trust should be the exception not the rule.