Nearly half of all the government events held since the election was called have been addressed by ministers in districts they are contesting.

The government held 30 events between February 21 – the day after Prime Minister Robert Abela announced the election – and yesterday.

Video: Jonathan Borg

Of these, 14 were in localities that form part of the district being contested by the minister who addressed the event, an exercise carried out by Times of Malta has shown.

Every parliamentarian has an obligation to visit his district- Jose Herrera

In most cases, the ministers unveiled schemes or initiatives that will directly impact the places they visited.

Some of the events highlighted initiatives announced in the budget for 2022, which was presented in October. Others provided additional information to projects that had also been announced months earlier.

In one case, two press events were held at the same place in the span of just two weeks, with Economy Minister Silvio Schembri visiting the Luqa industrial estate twice. This is in the sixth district, one of the two that the minister is contesting.

The first time, on February 22, Schembri gave “details” on the works while the second time, on March 2, he paid a “visit” to ongoing works. 

Ministers unapologetic

Asked about the issue on Tuesday, Culture Minister José Herrera dismissed it as “rubbish”, saying he unveils different schemes and initiatives in various localities, not just those he contests.

Herrera was speaking in Marsa, part of the first district, which he is contesting.

That day, he announced three different projects for the locality: the restoration of the parish church, a CCTV project and a community transport scheme for the elderly.

“I don’t feel uncomfortable at all; it is my duty to look after my district. This is rubbish to say that when a minister or a member of parliament visits his district he is being biased,” Herrera said.

Silvio Schembri in a visit to Luqa last year.Silvio Schembri in a visit to Luqa last year.

“Every parliamentarian has an obligation to visit his district. But this scheme, issued some time ago, is starting now. That is why we are launching it today.”

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli echoed Herrera’s comments while at a press conference in Qrendi, a locality that forms part of the fifth district, one of the two she is contesting.

“We make investments all across the island, in Malta and Gozo. I do not contest all the districts in Malta and Gozo. But I continue to announce investments all across the island,” she said.

To prevent the party in government from benefitting from the power of incumbency, the Nationalist Party had come up with a series of legislative proposals that would ensure election campaigns are fair for all political parties.

Tabled in parliament, the PN’s so-called mega bill incorporated 12 different bills that would amend Malta’s criminal code and constitution. The bill was subsequently defeated in parliament when the government side voted against.

The proposals included having a caretaker government once an election is called to ensure cabinet does not take any decisions and that political initiatives are not implemented during the campaign.

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