News | Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Privatisation ‘confidentiality’ may lead to abuses

Charlot Zahra

Government officials have remained mum on the identity of the consultants it appoints, despite requests to confirm whether a consultant to a preferred bidder for the privatisation of Enemalta’s petroleum division is indeed the same consultant appointed by the Privatisation Unit (PU) to assist in the same tender process: a double role which would be tantamount to a conflict of interest.
Last week, the Finance Ministry quoted confidentiality as it declined to answer questions sent by sister paper MaltaToday in the regard.
On his part, PU chief Emmanuel Ellul yesterday toed the Ministry’s line in refusing to answer the same set of questions, this time describing our request as ‘impertinent’.
Until the time of going to print, Ministry officials had avoided the questions of whether ‘confidentiality’ would also be cited if the request came not from a newspaper, but from bona fide bidders in order to ensure that their own consultants are not tasked by the privatisation unit for the same tender process.
Such confidentiality may lead to abuses in tender processes, considering the eventuality of consultants leaving their clients in the dark over any potential conflict of interest.
The Ministry also declined to reveal the fees it agreed with its consultants.

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24 June 2009

Malta Today


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