malta chamber

The Malta Chamber on Saturday appealed to Government, in particular the Department of Contracts, “to be truly sensitive to the extent to which the business community and the public in general has had enough of cowboys running roughshod over good governance and clean business.”

It further cautioned that the Chamber expected the authorities to leave “no stone unturned in convincing all those who are watching that this Government is really serious about its intentions to clean up and raise the bar.”

“We urgently need to close the credibility gap,” it said in a strongly worded statement.

The statement, without mentioning any particular cases, companies or individuals, comes just days after The Shift News reported that a company linked to an alleged criminal has been granted a €250,000 tender.

The Chamber has a long track record for calling on Government see that those evading taxes be disqualified from bidding for public contracts, and for a close eye to be kept on tender winners to ascertain that they are keeping to a timeline for achieving milestones, generally laid out in public contracts.

This particular statement, however, comes two days after it was reported that Princess Operations Ltd has been awarded a €250,000 tender to supply Transport Malta with low-emission vehicles.

The company is reportedly owned by Christian Borg through a holding company, the same individual who is facing kidnapping charges.

Mr Borg has also been linked several times in the media to Prime Minister Robert Abela in relation to separate transactions. The Times of Malta also reports that Mr Borg is part of a group of individuals being investigated for suspected ties to money laundering and dark web transactions.

Prime Minister Abela, when asked about the Princess Operations tender granted by Transport Malta, pointed towards the appeals court, claiming it had ordered that the tender be awarded to the company.

The Malta Chamber, without mentioning a specific case, in its statement drew attention to the importance of vetting bidders properly in public procurement tendering processes for administrative compliance.

“This is an effective way of enforcing compliance and cleaning the market of rogue operators.”

“While the public procurement process provides legal remedies for competitors to challenge the adjudication process, they have very little visibility on the administrative and technical compliance of the other bidders.

“Similarly, courts are only able to decide on those matters on which competitors object and to base themselves on the evidence brought forward by the objector. The responsibility for ensuring full compliance, and more so administrative and technical compliance, lies squarely with the Department of Contracts and the Contracting Authorities.  Both have the right to cancel tenders as well as their awards at any point in time (even if the recommended bidder has been decreed), when a tender has been awarded to a bidder who is not fully compliant on administrative, technical or financial requirements.

“False declarations with regards to fiscal or financial status, non-payment of taxes, non-filing of financial statements or the filing of financial statements showing gravely insolvent positions, repeated reports of malpractice to consumer protection authorities, and the institution of criminal proceedings with serious accusation should all trigger alarm bells to blacklist operators and even suspend and withdraw running contracts if the gravity of the case warrants so.”

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