Foreign Minister Ian Borg must be sacked if he does not voluntarily resign after a court once again declared the decision to allow the minister to build a pool at his Rabat villa illegal, two PN MPs have said.
In a press conference outside the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Valletta, Opposition MPs Mark Anthony Sammut and Stanley Zammit called on Prime Minister Robert Abela to sack Borg should his resignation not be forthcoming and insisted that the Planning Authority must now take decisive action to enforce the court's decision.
An appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the PA was not justified in granting Borg and his wife Rachelle Borg Dingli the permit for the pool and slammed the planning tribunal for incorrectly interpreting planning policies when it dismissed an appeal against the permit.
Through the ruling, the court has now stuck off the permit, PA867/20 and said that it was now "without effect".
One day after the ruling, the Nationalist Party said that Borg must shoulder political responsibility and resign.
However, both Borg and the prime minister have since remained silent on the matter, Sammut said.
He said that both the courts and the ombudsman had come to the conclusion that the permit was irregular and that Borg had come to acquire the land at below-market price through "deceptive" means. The PA, he added, had also gone against its own policies in order to grant the minister the permit.
"Our country deserves better, we cannot have a minister that has been found guilty of illegalities," Sammut said.
"In a normal country, a minister would resign before he even begins to defend himself in court but not only did Ian Borg fail to do this, he arrogantly continued to carry out work on the site despite the pending court action and in fact, those works have been finished."
Sammut said that even by the government's "below the bar" standards for ethics, Ian Borg must resign after being condemned for illegalities.
"If he does not resign, then Robert Abela must remove him," he said.
"If he has a fraction of respect for the office that he holds, he would not allow a minister found guilty of these illegalities to form part of his cabinet. Otherwise, he would be confirming that he is a spineless prime minister who allows anyone to do whatever they want and that the arrogant behaviour of his ministers is happening with his blessing."
Zammit, who is the shadow minister for planning, went into detail about how the site in question had previously already been subject to a similar planning application that had been refused prior to the land being acquired by Borg.
However, after the plot changed hands and was consequently owned by the parliamentary secretary responsible for planning at the time, the same case officer who had recommended the first permit for refusal ignored key policies and gave it a favourable recommendation for approval.
"The PA had both policies and a history that showed that this permit should not have been issued, but it chose to give out different verdicts about the same case," Zammit said.
"It was not the planning policies that changed but the owners of the land."
He said that this is "another certificate of bad governance" and a symptom of a culture of impunity and lack of accountability that the Labour Party in government has fostered.
"This sends the message that the only thing that counts is who you know and encourages other to continue abusing the system in the same way by bending the law. This is institutionalized anarchy," he said.
Zammit said that the PA must now take concrete steps to enforce the court's decision in view of the fact that the structures on the site have already been built.
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