27 Sep 2022

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has issued a report recommending extensive changes to the codes of ethics for ministers, parliamentary secretaries and members of Parliament in Malta.

The current codes of ethics take the form of schedules to the Standards in Public Life Act. The first schedule consists of a code of ethics for MPs and the second schedule consists of a code for ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

In its report the OECD recommends that both codes should be replaced by new codes. Among other things, the new codes should oblige ministers and MPs to be truthful and transparent, while refraining from using information obtained in the course of their public duties for personal again. The new codes should also require ministers and MPs to make more detailed annual declarations of their assets and interests, and they should in addition be required to register gifts over a certain value that are given to them or their family members.

The new code of ethics for MPs should clearly indicate what activities are not compatible with the role of MP. For instance, MPs should be precluded from acting as lobbyists, working in government departments, boards or commissions, or having an interest in a corporation that is a party to a contract with government.

The new code of ethics for ministers should maintain the current prohibition on private work while also including provisions obliging former ministers to observe a cooling-off period before taking up jobs with firms they dealt with while serving as ministers.

The report was presented during a press conference held on 27 September 2022. The event was addressed by Dr George Marius Hyzler, Commissioner for Standards; Julio Bacio Terracino, Head of the OECD’s Public Integrity Division; Daniele Dotto, Deputy Director in the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support; and Carissa Munro, Policy Analyst with the OECD.

Prior to the event, the Commissioner for Standards wrote to the Prime Minister enclosing a copy of the OECD report and formally recommending, in terms of article 13(1)(g) of the Standards in Public Life Act, that the codes of ethics for ministers and MPs be revised as proposed in the report.

The OECD report is available from the OECD website at https://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=GOV/PGC/INT(2022)12/FINAL&docLanguage=en.

Photo: Carissa Munro, Julio Bacio Terracino and Daniele Dotto during the press conference.