NEWS | Sunday, 14 October 2007

Petitions Board waives 59% of fines

James Debono

It pays not to pay your traffic fine. If you appeal to the clemency of the Petitions Board, there is a 59 per cent chance you will have your fine waived.
Replying to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Adrian Vassallo, Minister Tonio Borg revealed that the board has fully accepted 5, 989 petitions, which amounts to 59 per cent of the total submitted. A further 292 petitions were partially accepted.
Since its inception in January 2006, the Petitions Board has received 16,143 petitions – an average of 800 petitions a month.
So far, only 10, 226 petitions – 63 per cent of the total – have been handled by the board, which has a backlog of 5,917 petitions.
The board consists of three tribunals presided by Dr Benny Delia, Dr Ramon Rossignaud and Dr Joseph Refalo. According to Minister Borg, it meets four times a week.
The Local Councils Association is concerned about this situation, which is depriving councils of a substantial part of their revenue.
“Although we agree that citizens should have this form of redress, the system is being abused,” Kalkara mayor and LCA president Michael Cohen told MaltaToday.
He also expressed concern that the petition system enables those contravening the law to continue paying their drivers’ licence.
“This means that these drivers can still transfer their licence without having paid their dues. Following the transfer the fines are never paid to the councils,” Cohen told MaltaToday.
Cohen complains that the government has gone from one extreme to another – from a draconian system to a lenient one – and insists that the board should immediately refuse cases where no justification exists.
In June, MaltaToday revealed that councils are owed Lm 3.5 million in wardens’ fines which were never paid.

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