Edward Scicluna has slammed a criminal investigation into ministers’ spending on social media as “a farce”.
The investigation was sparked after Standards Commissioner George Hyzler flagged the potential misuse of public funds by ministers to promote their personal Facebook pages.
Scicluna was one of four ministers found to have incorrectly used public resources on social media.
Following the probe, Hyzler had referred the matter to the National Audit Office for a wider investigation and it was then referred to the police.
Scicluna insisted he had never used a single euro to promote his private Facebook page.
An inquiry is being led by Magistrate Doreen Clarke with investigations being conducted by the Economic Crimes Unit.
Scicluna described his case as a mere technicality, as he was sharing on his Facebook page weekly videos produced for the ministry’s website a few days before they were actually uploaded.
The finance minister said he has been producing these weekly videos about his work for 12 years, ever since he was an MEP.
He questioned how a practice that was encouraged within the European Parliament was now being criminalised in Malta.
'I even use my own camera'
Scicluna said the fact that he was sharing the video prior to it being uploaded on the Finance Ministry’s website made it appear that the video was being produced for his Facebook page.
“I’m doing it for my own ministry, to be shared on other media, including Facebook. By the way, I even use my own camera. To criminalise a minister of finance on this technical issue is a step too far,” Scicluna said.
Information tabled in Parliament shows the government spent €1.2 million on social media promotions between 2013 and 2017.
Scicluna acknowledged his ministry’s role in overseeing this spending.
“The concern is mine every day. We have to make sure that public funds are not used for private means.”
The Finance Minister said it was obvious that public funds could not be used for things like organising a coffee morning for constituents.
He also spoke about distinguishing between newspaper adverts taken out to tell people about the work of a particular ministry and others containing Christmas greetings.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us