The environment ministry’s customer care unit exchanges information directly with the customer care of the Labour Party, Pierre Vassallo, chief of staff at the same ministry explained.
During a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held on Wednesday evening, Vassallo stated that phone calls and meetings between the relevant customer cares are made but that coordinated meetings were not held “that [he] knows of.”
As a witness Vassallo was facing questions by the committee which is currently discussing the recruitment of employees with WasteServ, particularly the week before the last election in 2017, following a request made by the Nationalist Party.
Vassallo who started working in his current position in June 2017 was unable to answer a a significant amount of the questions put to him mostly due to the fact that he was not present during the period being discussed. He also pointed out that he was not involved in the operations. However, upon questioning further he did explain the structure of the customer care at the ministry and confirmed that no distinction is made for people hailing from a particular district.
This follows the declaration of WasteServ CEO Tonio Montebello who in a previous sitting provided figures indicating that 60% of WasteServ employees were hired during the electoral campaign in 2017, whilst more than 30% were from the 1st district.
Environment Minister Jose Herrera, who is politically responsible for WasteServ, contests in the 1st district, which includes the localities of Valletta, Floriana, Hamrun, Marsa, Pieta, Gwardamangia, and Santa Venera.
During yet another spirited meeting, committee chairman Beppe Fenech Adami was once again accused by PL MP Robert Abela that he was against recruitment of people from the 1st district.
It was also pointed out by the opposition that 56 people were engaged during the period of 5th June and 4th July 2017. Vassallo pointed out that these people were urgently required in the Valley Management Unit, due to rubbish blocking the valleys, making them prone to floods. When asked, Vassallo was unable to reply as to why engagement of workers was considered the preferable option rather than redeployment from the Department of Public Works to the Parks Department within the Environment Ministry.
Vassallo also said that whilst details of the people visiting customer care were taken he was unsure as to if and how long these details were kept. He was requested by the opposition to verify on the matter and if details are available to provide the number of people that presented themselves at customer care at the ministry asking for a job.
Emails published by MaltaToday revealing how in the previous legislature the minister would send lists of people wanting to work with WasteServ were referenced in the meeting by PL MPs, asking Vassallo if such matters happened under his watch, to which he replied in the negative.
Jose Herrera is scheduled to be the next meeting of the PAC as requested by PL MPs.
Original article found on The Malta Independent