A few days ago PN secretary general Paul Borg Olivier sent thousands of emails together with a video appealing to people to donate €200,000 to the PN to cover the costs of the bill-boards for the election campaign. He told them: "the Malta Labour Party is rich whilst we are not."
Over the years the PN has been very comfortable when it came to acquiring funds for the party. Over the years it built up what is known as the ‘JS list’ - a list of donors made up of individuals and companies that have been awarded contracts by government and public sector companies.
That is why the PN never really believed in introducing a law to regulate party financing in Malta. Some months ago the PN government sent a bill on party-financing to the European anti-corruption watchdog GRECO. This institution established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor States’ compliance with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards said that the bill was so full of loopholes that it was meaningless as a tool to bring about transparency of political funding so that donors do not buy parties and their decision making and shape policies to suit the interest of those who fund them.
GRECO also said that the bill allowed party members to donate as much money as they liked without having to declare it. Only the names of non-party members donating more than €10,000 were to be made public.
The names on the JS list are not made public and the amount collected this way is never announced except partially and anonymously in the fund raising marathon organised by the PN and transmitted live on NET TV.
As in previous years, and even during the days of Eddie Fenech Adami as PN leader, these donors are contacted days before and told to come to the PN HQ with money that they then hand over to a person accompanying the PN leader.
Last December donors were told to donate a minimum of around €5,000. According to the bill presented by the PN government the JS list would be able to go on and as separate donations would be kept below €10,000, none of them would have to be mentioned by name.
The bill presented by the PN government to GRECO was not meant to make party financing transparent, it was meant to keep the JS list funding mechanism intact. Through this list the PN has collected millions upon millions of euros over the years. So it is deceptive and ridiculous of Borg Olivier and Gonzi to play Oliver Twist and ask for more.