“Gifts still there at the end of Gonzi’s term”

Luke Zerafa

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Persons close to the administrations of Prime Ministers Eddie Fenech Adami and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi told Newsbook.com.mt that gifts received by both prime ministers were always listed in the Register of State Gifts. They added that the inventory of Castille also included Independence gifts. This newsroom was also assured that all these gifts were still there at the end of Gonzi’s term as Prime Minister in 2013.

Their comments were in answer to the comment by Prime Minister Muscat that on taking office he found no gifts let alone a register in any of the official residences or office of the Prime Minister. Muscat who is holidaying in Dubai with his family was answering question on One Radio.

Practice during the term of Fenech Adami

Our source told us that during the terms Fenech Adami served as Prime Minister “we did not recommend the giving of any State Gifts to the PM but only to the President. Gifts from heads of state and PMs during 1987-1996 & 1998-2004 to the PM were usually personal tokens such as books and framed photographs of limited value.”

The same source added that  “even in this context however, when the gift was over a certain value it was added to the Castille Inventory which included certainly a large silver shell shaped centerpiece from the Italian President. The inventory of Castille also included Independence gifts.”

Newsbook.com.mt was told that a good proportion of the paintings at Girgenti were gifts to the Palace collection and those were added to the Girgenti Inventory – there was a form affixed to the back of the painting saying whose gift it was.”

Policy during Prime Minister Gonzi

Our source close to the administration of Lawrence Gonzi told Newsbook.com.mt that the policy they followed was similar to that followed by Prime Minister Fenech Adami.  

This newsroom was told that gifts to the PM as well as gifts given by the Prime Minister were registered, and each gift received was marked with a sticker to indicate the source and occasion, while gifts given were registered clearly indicating occasions and recipients.  

The register of incoming and outgoing gifts was kept at the Secretariat of the Office of the Prime Minister. Our source said that the received gifts would remain the property of the State at one of the three State Houses of the PM, namely Auberge de Castille, Girgenti Palace or Villa Francia and added that the register of Outgoing State Gifts also included the stock of gifts that had not been used at the end of Dr. Gonzi’s legislature.

What Muscat said and ignored

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat  said that he always acted in the right manner and when presented with expensive gifts he sent them back. He added that when it was not possible to do so he donated them to the State.

Muscat was reacting to reports that Yorgen Fenech had given him two expensive watches, one of them a Bulgari costing €20,000 and three bottles of wine whose price is close to €6,000. 

Newsbook.com.mt sent questions to the Office of the Prime Minister asking why it was not possible to send back the two watches and the three bottles of wine.

Muscat’s phone interview on One came two days after it was announced that Prime Minister Muscat was voted as the Person of the Year organized crime and corruption. The award was made by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Muscat did not in any way refer to this award.