The proposed amendment to the mechanism of appointment of Commissioner for Standards in Public Life reduces public trust within this office by politicising the appointment mechanism of the Commissioner. This proposed amendment states that when a resolution for the appointment is not supported by a two-thirds majority of the House on two votes, the third vote shall only require the support of an absolute majority. This means that no cross-party support is required which is even more concerning when a House is composed in the majority by a single political party.
GħSL asserts that this amendment impedes on the integrity, transparency, and independence of the Office. In an OECD recommendations report1, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development applauded the two-thirds majority required for the appointment of the Commissioner, marking it as a ‘significant element to protect his independence’. The OECD recommends that when the House of Representatives is divided, the Judicial Appointments Committee established by Article 96(a) of the Constitution, could make a binding recommendation to the President of Malta for the appointment of a Commissioner. This dead-lock mechanism, unlike the one proposed by Government, protects the integrity and independence of the office. Instead of adopting the recommendations of the OECD report, this Bill is proposing a regression.
The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life should be, and should be made to be seen, as a beacon of good governance, and not as a political tool. Steamrolling a candidate into office curtails the precept of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life.
1 OECD (2022), “Review of the Standards in Public Life Act of Malta: Recommendations for strengthening the integrity framework for elected and appointed officials”, OECD, Paris, https://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=GOV/PGC/INT(2022)9/FINAL& docLanguage=en