We have been fed many stories about the Nationalist Party’s finances in recent weeks. Since the 2016 law on political party financing was enacted, the Electoral Commission has published the audited accounts of each party by midsummer of the following year. For some reason, the 2018 accounts were only published in February 2020. We can now assess things better.

The 2018 accounts of the PN, audited by KPMG, confirm that the party continues to register a deficit of €705,984. This is hardly reason to celebrate but it marks the lowest deficit since the PN’s accounts started to be made public. In 2015, for example, the deficit was a staggering €2.5 million.

The accounts for 2018 also show that the amount that the PN passed on to Media Link, its media arm, went down to €1.2 million. This makes it the lowest impairment since 2015, when it was €3.1 million.

Between 2015 and 2017, the PN’s debt and payables – which include the social security contributions it should be paying for its employees – had risen from €6.5 million to nearly €10 million.

This marks an increase of 50 per cent in just two years. That such financial mismanagement could occur under the watch of people who were presenting themselves as paragons of financial rectitude is mindboggling, to say the very least.

While Simon Busuttil was talking of the need for sustainable public finances, he oversaw a situation where the PN’s financial obligations were increasing by €4 every minute. This does not include Media Link. The latter’s accumulated losses rose from €8.5 million to more than €12.2 million.

How did this happen?

The audited accounts provide clues. Under Busuttil’s watch, staff costs surged from €271,896 to €430,527 in two years. A staggering increase of nearly 60 per cent in 24 months!

The number of party employees skyrocketed, and the accounts also indicate that the per capita wage increased by 12 per cent. 

Our country – and the Nazzjonalisti – deserve better

Noteworthy is the employment of Michael Fenech Adami, deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami’s brother, at the time.  Jobs for the boys and to hell with it! 

While doing so, the PN accumulated a debt of nearly a third of a million euro with the commissioner for revenue, by failing to pass on social security contributions.  

The 2018 accounts show that, under Adrian Delia’s watch, the party has finally started to pay its tax dues. Its debt with the commissioner for revenue fell to a quarter of a million.

Delia also appears to have ended the splurge on salaries, with staff costs falling for the first time. Efforts have been made to stem the losses at Media Link. The PN’s debt and payables have fallen slightly but remain stubbornly close to €10 million.

If this trend continues, it will still take 45 years for the PN to pay its loans and dues.

The PN’s assets went down by nearly €1 million in just one year, marking a fall of five per cent. Income from memberships and subscriptions fell from €151,829 to €112,658, a drop of 25 per cent. In contrast, during the same year, income from memberships and subscriptions for the Labour Party went up by five per cent, and the assets of the party grew by €1 million.

Facts therefore show that under Busuttil’s watch the PN finances were collapsing. The situation is still bleak under Delia, despite his efforts.

He may be a bit less cavalier with finances than Busuttil but it is obvious that the disastrous financial situation he inherited will still be a millstone around the PN’s neck for many years to come.

It is incredibly distasteful that those who dug the PN’s hole are trying to shift blame and pontificate on how best to run things. Joe Saliba and Paul Borg Olivier and their pathetic squeals of righteous indignation immediately come to mind.

The Democratic Party, which harps on about the need for fiscal responsibility, would also do well to put its house in order before doing so. It is the only political party, including Moviment Patrijotti Maltin, for whom the electoral commission has not published audited accounts.

The once glorious PN has been brought to its knees because it was hijacked and milked dry by the same gang of hypocrites who are now baying for Delia’s blood. Our country – and the Nazzjonalisti – deserve better.

Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando is former Nationalist MP.

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