A parliamentary committee investigating alleged ethical breaches by MP Rosianne Cutajar has been left in the lurch after Speaker Anġlu Farrugia stormed out of the last sitting.
The bipartisan committee for standards in public life was meant to meet on Monday and begin investigating claims that the Labour MP had received a hefty sum of cash for her part in brokering a multi-million-euro property deal.
However, the committee’s members have been left in the dark over when the next sitting will be held and who will be brought to testify after they failed to reach an agreement last week.
The committee is looking into a report by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler that found multiple cases of probable ethics breaches by the MP after the property deal was first exposed by Times of Malta last year.
Farrugia, who chairs the committee, last week decided that rather than adopt the report’s findings and move to sanction the MP, further investigation was required to be certain that Cutajar had indeed broken the code of ethics.
According to the committee’s rulebook, ethics investigations can be adopted, rejected or investigated further. Adopting the report would have led to Cutajar being asked to make an apology or face sanctions, to be decided by the committee.
Plan to hear tax commissioner Marvin Gaerty
The government members on the committee proposed at the last meeting that they should meet again on Monday and hear the testimony of Inland Revenue Commissioner Marvin Gaerty.
The opposition members agreed, on the condition that the government side committed itself to also summon Cutajar’s associate, Charles Farrugia.
However, they failed to reach an agreement on the matter during a heated sitting last Tuesday. Arguing he had other business to attend to in parliament, Farrugia ended the sitting without an agreement having been reached on when to meet again and who to summon.
Farrugia fixes his tax issues
Farrugia, a long-time associate of Cutajar, informed the committee last week that he had regularised his tax position, claiming to have received some €120,000 from the property deal.
The committee spent around an hour bickering over the matter of who should be brought to testify on Monday, with the speaker eventually giving up on what had become a desperate scene. He kept reminding both sides that it was up to them to agree on a date and an agenda.
“This is not the way a committee should conduct itself,” he said, before walking out of the room.
Members of the committee will now have to write to the speaker to set a new date for the committee but, with both sides still disagreeing over the witnesses to be summoned, the speaker may have to use his casting vote to decide on the way forward.
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