Former PN candidate Kevin Cassar has asked the Standards Commissioner to investigate a statement by Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, relating to the decision taken by the Malta Business Registry to remove 10,000 dormant companies from its register. 

Cassar, a professor of surgery, told the commissioner that the language used in the press release, as well as the content, “is clearly partisan” and the statement did not respect the political impartiality of the public service.

The press release stated: “It is clear that the intention of the PN statement is to cause harm.  Its authors are very much aware that they are being deliberately deceitful”.  It also said: “The deplorable attack is yet another example of how the Opposition strives to harm the country continuously. While it is a fact that the current leader of the Opposition is ashamed to say that he is Maltese, such a stance does not give him the prerogative to harm the country.

Cassar told the commissioner he had explicitly ordered that “ministers should not issue partisan statements”, that “ministers shall keep their roles as ministers and members of political parties separate” and “ministers shall respect the principle of political impartiality of the public service”.

He asked the commissioner to determine whether the principles he had set out had been adhered to by the minister. 

Cassar said the Department of Information, which also had a responsibility to ensure that official press releases retained some semblance of impartiality, should also be investigated to determine whether its role in upholding the impartiality of the public service had been served in this case.

He reminded the commissioner that he had stated that he  “shall be monitoring the publication of press statements through the Department of Information to ensure that the tone and content respect the principles established above”.

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