Karmenu Vella speaking about “prudence, honesty and transparency”? ROFL LOL OMG.

Published: November 13, 2011 at 12:19pm

Karmenu Vella seen here on a visit to China in 1972 with Prime Minister Mintoff and Alex Sceberras Trigona

This is my column in The Malta Independent on Sunday, today.

The main man in Joseph Muscat’s team of fresh, young and gifted politicians – Karmenu Vella, who was already a government minister when I was at sixth-form college 30 years ago, and who has been in parliament since I was in Form II and saving my pocket money to buy singles records and Jackie magazine – finally has an opinion on something that concerns him as shadow minister of finance.

I mentioned this over lunch yesterday. “Ara, mela tkellem Karmenu Vella, kemm ili ma nisimghu?” my lunch companion said. Exactly.

No, it’s not Greece. It’s not Berlusconi’s resignation and how Italy risks dragging down the rest of the European Union. It’s not renewed calls in Britain for a referendum on Europe, and it’s certainly not the Eurozone crisis.

In between uploading on his Facebook page scans of black-and-white Instamatic photographs of his Golden Years with Dom Mintoff’s government and getting nostalgic Mintoffjani to vote for them, Vella has unzipped his lips ever so briefly to speak about the upcoming Budget.

As I sat there reading, in all of two minutes, what he said, Virgin Radio began to bleed a Jethro Tull track from the days of big hair and flares, in a magnificent piece of pathetic fallacy. All I need now is a tube of Clearasil, a satchel and a curfew from my mother, and I’m sorted.

Karmenu Vella – now Virgin’s playing Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, isn’t that brilliant? – told the nation that he expects Monday’s Budget to be “an exercise in prudence, honesty and transparency”. I don’t belong to the internet ROFL and LOL brigade, but honestly, at moments like this, I wish there were an acronym which would save me the trouble of writing the next few sentences.

To the people of my generation, and our parents – not those who voted Labour, I hasten to add, but those who had enough of an education to read a newspaper story and get to grips with the information in it – Karmenu Vella will forever be associated with the prudence, honesty and transparency of powering a motor-yacht straight from Sicily to Ghadira Bay, without reporting to Port Control, there to unload its unspecified cargo at fellow cabinet minister Johnny Dalli’s Tunny Net restaurant.

And no, I don’t mean the EU Commissioner, but Helena Dalli’s brother-in-law.

This might seem harmless now, but put it into the context of the early 1980s, with their Stalinist import and foreign exchange controls, their military requirement for all boats to put in at port/customs control when arriving from outside Maltese territorial waters, and the general climate of fear about these things – families with small children were practically strip-searched coming off the ferry from Sicily and had their evil chocolates confiscated – you will have some idea of just why this story made the news.

And it didn’t make the mainstream news, either – but let’s not go into the reasons why it wasn’t the top item on Xandir Malta’s news bulletin, because then we’d upset that other young, fresh Labour face, Joe Grima, and at his age and size that’s not a good idea.

Karmenu Vella demands and expects prudence, honesty and transparency now that he is not in government, but he had no such requirements or expectations when he was standing behind Mintoff on the back of a lorry, laughing at the terribly amusing jokes which his hero made to draw laughs from the sub-literate crowds who, because there were more of them than there were of the rest of us, called the shots.

He had no such demands, either, when he spent three years in Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici’s cabinet as the worst prime minister in Maltese history had a field-day wrecking the country. And he didn’t open his mouth to object when he sat in Alfred Sant’s cabinet as Sant devised and implemented his cunning plans to bring the economy to a screeching halt.

I’m not quite sure that Lawrence Gonzi thinks Karmenu Vella the person best placed to give him advice on how to run the economy, or on prudence, honesty and transparency, but should he wish to take it, Vella has told him that what he and his government-in-waiting, composed of stars like Silvio Parnis, Joseph Muscat and Anglu Farrugia, expect.

This is that the government should use its resources judiciously so as to encourage economic growth. My, you don’t say.

Virgin Radio is really getting into stride now, playing Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb, David Bowie’s Life on Mars and Elton John’s Rocket Man. Using resources judiciously for economic growth, did Karmenu Vella say? We know where he was in 1976 straight through to 1987: rabble-rousing at mass meetings and telling people to vote for more of those Golden Years of Economic Growth and Judicious Government, which they did in droves and almost gave us another five years of hell. (And then they say that Labour isn’t linked to mass ignorance and semi-literacy.)

But where has Karmenu Vella been since?

Apart from those 22 months as cabinet minister in Alfred Sant’s really judicious government which ground the economy to a halt and shrank it, he appears to have been totally taken up with his business contacts in Gaddafi’s Libya.

I’m sorry, Mr Opposition Leader, but as somebody who well remembers your shadow finance minister in Dom Mintoff’s and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici’s governments, I cannot take him seriously.

And that’s because things were pretty serious then, no matter what your grandmother might have told you. Unlike with stocks and shares, with politicians it really is a matter of il-passat huwa garanzija tal-futur, and only a fool would think otherwise.

Karmenu Vella, prudence, honesty and transparency? IMHO ROFL.

17 Comments Comment

  1. anthony says:

    He must be a late developer.

    He matured politically on getting his Kartanzjan.

    As I have said before, these people must take us all for amnesics.

  2. Jozef says:

    Ok, so now according to the leader, if government adjusts tax bands, it’s just a gimmick and irresponsible.

    Edward Scicluna contradicted all Joseph said regarding spending, insisting on more stringent fiscal measures and deficit control.

    Joseph also wants maternity leave extended, did he read the newspapers this morning?

    Karmenu Vella, meantime, wants a sincere budget, whatever that means, as an aside he also demolished all Joseph’s arguments to energy bills, saying he expected government to pledge a reduction IF the price of oil goes down.

    I always thought one of the budget’s advantages was having all stakeholders putting forward their proposals. Everyone came forward with their list, including ones which cost nothing yet improve on that which exists.

    Everyone except Labour.

    I await his speech next week, to see what cheek he’ll have to criticise. It’s his latest failed test.

  3. ciccio2011 says:

    Labour’s ability to recycle and reuse its democratically rejected politicians is testimony to its green credentials.

  4. Harry Purdie says:

    About five years ago, I asked Karmenu why not run for party leader when Sant goes. His response was that his past would be exposed.

    Guess his response was correct, although it looks like he hasn’t taken his own advice. Or vaulting ambition?

  5. Brian*14 says:

    Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for leading our country during these times of uncertainty and upheaval in the financial markets.

    I realise that in terms of GDP for 2010, Malta places higher than EU average in 5 out of 6 KPIs in economic development. I am also aware that for this same year, Malta ranks amongst the top 10 economic performers in the EU, namely, in unemployment, deficit % of GDP and in the annual change % of GDP.

    For the critics, perhaps it is also important to note that during the 16 years of Labour in government, the economy grew by $1.49bn and in 20 years of a Nationalist government it grew by $6.24bn. The figures speak for themselves.

    I have no doubt in the manner you continue to lead the way.

  6. Dementia says:

    Karmenu Vella had no demands for prudence, honesty and transparency when he travelled to the United States on state affairs with his cronies by Concorde while the rest of us were having our measly 250 Maltese Liri scribbled into our Gaddafi green passports.

    He also had no such demands when he was playboying it around like some Dustin Hoffman wannabe with his ‘Charlie’s Angels’ group of women canvassers.

    Karmenu Vella, prudence, honesty and transparency? LMFAO.

    • anthony says:

      The travel allowance was the equivalent of Lm50 per day for us ordinary mortals.

      This did not include the foreign currency regularly stuffed into our shoes and duly aired on arrival at destination.

      Those were the Golden Years.

      • La Redoute says:

        It was Lm25 if you went away for a day.

      • Not Tonight says:

        It was Lm50 per day for business trips. Mere mortals were allowed Lm250 for the entire holiday, no matter its duration. These limits remained unchanged for several years.

        At the bank, we had to see air tickets before we issued any money, and also check the immigration departure/arrival stamps before issuing money for another trip, just in case you cancelled the trip.

        The amount of cash/travellers’ cheques were recorded at the back of the passport. Some data protection that was! For the duration of the validity of the passport, anyone with access to your passport could snoop into how much money you had to spend on holiday.

        And, when Mintoff had one of his tantrums involving Italy, we were not allowed to take any spending money at all, if visiting Italy.

        Oh, the joys of The Golden Years!

  7. Tim Ripard says:

    John Dalli was never a cabinet minister, just a backbencher. Not that this detracts anything from what you say.

    • Richard Borg says:

      John Dalli was never a minister?

      1989-1991:Minister for Economy

      1992-1996: Minister of Finance

      [Daphne – Not that John Dalli. There was one in the Labour Party, too.]

      • Tim Ripard says:

        It’s interesting to note that you (Richard Borg) assume that Karmenu Vella’s bosom buddy is the (Qormi) John Dalli that is currently an EU commissioner.

        You don’t know what you’re talking about.

        Please read the article again, especially the one line paragraph (clearly stressing the point) which states: ‘And no, I don’t mean the EU Commissioner, but Helena Dalli’s brother-in-law’

  8. 'Angus Black says:

    Kif ma jixbghux jaqghu ghan-nejk?

    U dawk kollha li ghal erbghin sena ivvutaw Labour, allura aktar tan-nejk minn Joseph u shabu l-iskaduti.,

  9. John Schembri says:

    Hawn min jahseb li jekk jitla l-Labour nies bhal Karmenu Vella ma jkunu xejn.

    Nahseb li min jahseb hekk sejjer zbal,, lil min jista’ jaghzel Joseph meta jitla’?

    Ghazla kbira m’hemmx. Jekk nitghabbew b’partita avukati li ma jaghfux x’hinu negozju jew kif thaddem azjenda immorru l-bahar kif konna morna litteralment fis-sjuf ta’ zmien Dr Alfred Sant, ghax min kien ghal-rasu bil-kemm kellu xoghol u min kien mal-partikolar kellu xorti jekk kien jahdem erbghin siegha.

    Interessant kif il-kelma GALBU li hi l-iktar haga mehtiega m’hix tissemma’. Dik kienet ta’ Sant, bhal-Fazulli.

    Sthajjiltom ghal-waqt wiehed erba sakranazzi jghidu lil wiehed li jixrob ftit , biex joqghod il-boghod mix-xorb.

    Ghal waqt iehor sthajjiltom l-erba rikkieba taz-zwiemel tal-Apokalissi:


    Dawn kienu l-istess nies li ghajru lil Gonzi li ghadu ma’ naqqasx it-taxxa u ghax nehha is-sussidju mil-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma.

  10. GCHARLES says:


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