In the rent-seeking paradise, corruption comes at a big discount because the government provides a very large amount of corrupt opportunities. Gradually, Minister of the Economy Silvio Schembri is making a name with his textbook rent-seeking and corrupt practices. He made a name for himself by paying the big premium of €31 million just to rent a showroom for 15 years in Żejtun (the equivalent purchasing price of a mansion in London’s most expensive street). Think about that. Żejtun.
Now, Silvio Schembri is selling a public alleyway through the Lands Department which he controls to Anton Camilleri (Il-Franċiż) of Garnet Investments for just €134,000. The developers are purchasing the public alleyway to incorporate it into their development project which consists of the usual hotels, apartments, and restaurants and therefore is quite in line with Robert Abela’s economic plan. Malta’s economic policy for the next five years will be just that: public vanity projects in agricultural and natural land, and the restaurant economy. These projects are also in line with Labour’s plan to create more low-paying jobs while simultaneously pushing the prices of property to infinity. What can go wrong with this brilliant plan? Let’s be humble.
Now, to put things into perspective. When initially made Minister of the Economy by Robert Abela, Silvio Schembri’s portfolio was trimmed down and had several entities from his portfolio moved to other ministries, most notably Malta Enterprise which strangely enough was diverted under Miriam Dalli’s Energy Ministry. Silvio Schembri protested strongly with the Prime Minister over his downsizing and literally told him “Allura, ħa tħallini b’xejn?”. In order to appease him, Robert gave him the Lands Department. Because that’s how Silvio sees politics: what’s in it for me?
There is another parallel world from the world of government’s press releases, policies, manifestos and public declarations. Many of the set-ups, policies and arrangements are constructed along rent-seeking and corrupt prerequisites. Removing Labour from the government would give us another chance to start again and build a government that actually does its job instead of working for rent-seekers and building political and economic narratives which serve none other than Malta’s rent-seekers and the politicians who facilitate it.