Malta’s two main political parties have defended receiving hefty cash donations after a major developer said the business community often felt harassed by politicians seeking financial help. 

Contacted for a reaction to this comment, both the Labour and the Nationalist parties said they accepted financial donations in line with the law. 

In an interview with Times of Malta on Sunday, outgoing developers’ lobby chief Sandro Chetcuti said political parties continue to regularly pester businesspeople for donations. 

“Many people think we are constantly trying to compromise politicians with donations; the reality is that most of us don’t need the help of politicians to do well in our business,” Chetcuti said.

On the contrary, he says it is the politicians who chase the business community for financial handouts.   

“Sometimes, it feels like harassment. Some business-people get embarrassed by their persistence,” he said. 

According to documents submitted to the Electoral Commission, the Labour and Nationalist parties collect in excess of a million euros each every year through ritual fundraising events. That figure can more than double in an election year.

What the Labour Party said

In a terse reply to a series of questions, a PL spokesperson said donations received by the Labour Party are registered in terms of the Financing of the Political Parties Act.

He added that it was Labour in government that had introduced party financing rules.

The PL did not reply to questions if its members pestered business leaders for financial help and what reforms ought to be introduced.

What the Nationalist Party said

A spokesperson for the Nationalist Party also said that his party received donations in line with party financing rules. 

The PN, he noted, is currently reviewing its policies based on the recommendations of the public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Published last month, the inquiry report highlighted several problematic issues related to the intersecting of business and politics.

Among other things, it called for legal amendments to deter the use of political or financial power to escape justice.

It also said that laws should be introduced to ensure absolute transparency and accountability in the relationship between the government and big business.

Prime Minister Robert Abela has said the government will hold a public consultation on the implementation of the inquiry’s various findings. 

Meanwhile, the PN spokesman said parties required donations to survive.

“It must be underlined that, in a country without state funding for political parties, we have no choice but to fund operations through donations,” he said.

The PN, the spokesman added, regularly organises telethon fund-raising events to collect contributions from the public.

Most of these contributions come in relatively small amounts ranging from €10 to €50.

However, the PN, he said, also accepts donations from the business community against receipts and in line with the party financing regulations.

“MPs, candidates and officials have their own ways of calling for fund-raising contributions, including direct soliciting,” the spokesman said.

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