Saviour Balzan | Sunday, 21 June 2009
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Sorry, did you say ‘guarantee’?

People who screw up should be commended and valued. Just like Alex Tranter, the Enemalta chairman appointed by Dr Austin Gatt – he’ll be remembered for stating he couldn’t guarantee anything

I have no idea what kind of unsettled stomach is needed for one to throw up. Yet observing Alex Tranter, Austin Gatt’s political appointee, trying to justify the disaster on Tuesday to the press, was a good enough reason to regurgitate.
Mr Alex Tranter is by the way the chairman of Enemalta, and he declared two important things this week. First of all, that Enemalta cannot guarantee anything. Number two, Enemalta does not really know what happened last Tuesday.
Tranter by the way is a typically cute Sliema kind of guy and yes, an Austin Gatt ‘yes man’. He has no special qualifications in the energy sector and more importantly he presides over a publicly owned company which has failed to publish its audited accounts, and is responsible for applying the highest tariffs ever on Maltese businesses and the general public.
And yet when he appeared this week, interspersing his declaration in that typical English accent à la Richard Cachia Caruana (read more about him today, next week and the weeks to come), he could not understand how arrogant and dim-witted he appeared.
Last Tuesday millions of euros were lost in business because Enemalta failed to deliver the one thing it was set up to deliver: electricity.
The next day Tranter’s silly comment led to an instant boom in the sale of power generators. Everyone was led to believe that any day, any time, Enemalta could have another hitch. This was Mintoffian times all over again.
Anyone who is my age or older will remember what happened in the good old times of Father Beirut (1). The only difference is that when a Nationalist minister gets to screw up, it is a case of ‘force majeur’ (2) when another minister of different hue presides over a cock-up it is “x’gharukaza lanqas jafu…”
More significantly, the GonziPN press and the cronies that write for it in other newspapers were conveniently talking about the importance of alternative energy and cables to Sicily to sidetrack the issue. What cheek!
As if anyone was stopping anyone from changing to alternative energy. What does all this have to do with Austin Gatt’s failure to provide voltage and amperes to our homes?
This government has been in power since 1987. If anyone should be blamed for not doing anything, it is the government and no one else.
But back to Mr Alex Tranter, an employee of Zaren Vassallo another friend of GonziPN.
Tranter believes that he has what it takes to be chairman of the public utilities dealing with energy.
As he waved his hands like a ballerina to the press and could not find the right word in Maltese, just like a Richard Cachia Caruana clone would do, he could not imagine what signal he was transmitting to the business community.
Here is a government that states that it does not take measures to scare away business, most especially foreign business.
Here is a government led by Gonzi, that has no qualms hosting international gambling companies and allowing them to operate in a low tax regime.
Here is a government that considers the idea of imposing windfall taxes on our very profitable banks a nonsensical proposal that will scare away banks.
Here is a government that laments at the way the opposition does not have the national interest at heart when it comes to investment.
Here is a government that argues that we should have fewer public holidays to increase productivity. He, he, he, he, he. (3)
And then, after all this, we have this certain Mr Tranter who declares that he cannot guarantee electricity supply. And in turn makes all the banks, gambling companies, and foreign companies scramble for a candle because they cannot light a bulb, let alone operate their businesses.
Really, everyone is infected with this Austin Gatt arrogance. Tranter, Zammit Maempel (4), Claudio Grech (5) and all the rest who get or got appointed by him act like him and reply in his inimitable “me ne frega” style.
After failing to guarantee, we then had Tranter’s failure to explain what really happened at Enemalta. Can you imagine if this Mr Tranter was running a nuclear power reactor? His statement the next day would have read something like this:
“Hello folks, my name is Mr Tranter but you can call me Alex. No, not Eleks but Aaaah-lex. And I am here because in the Maltese political system, all the chairmen get appointed because of this brown tyre mark, right here on my forehead. So, there you go.
“Now, the nuclear explosion that happened yesterday that spread all over the land and sea and air, was of course something that could have happened and did happen.
“And yes, we cannot guarantee that this will not happen again. Thank you for being here and before you sod off please avoid touching the walls or drinking the water or breathe the air; the radioactivity could cause cancer and you know we only have one practising oncologist on the island.”

Blame it on Lawrence and Walker
Now Victor Scerri can say ‘sahha’ to his political future. He says he has done nothing wrong. Yes, I believe him. The question is, has he done anything right?
The fundamental problem is that MEPA takes a farmhouse or a boundary to a farmhouse as a pretext to build a villa. And to make matters worse, MEPA has different criteria for different applicants.
But what really has to be said here is why none of the blazing guns from that old stable of newspapers have nothing to say about the politician and political appointee who between them administer MEPA.
That man, guys, is Dr Lawrence Gonzi, and the man who takes his orders from Gonzi is Austin Walker (6), the saintly looking character appointed by the PM on the premise that they shared the same building at Mizzi House.
I always remember my great aunt telling me: “Ibni, iktar ma jidhru qishom qaddisin iktar oqghod attent minnhom u meta timxi, dejjem zomm dahrek mal-hajt.”
Now all guns have been pointed at Victor Scerri and his architect. Well, we should have guessed that everyone has a right to ruin pristine land and build a beautiful habitation away from the plebeians. That is what life is all about.
Let us face it, what is wrong in living in Bahrija (7) and then standing for election in the overcrowded and claustrophobic Qormi constituency?
Politicians’ places of residence should be as distant as possible from their constituents. Politicians should be close to constituents on Sunday mornings at the band club bar, at feasts and at mass meetings, but only three months before the election.
And Bahrija (8) is a damn good place to be. Dom Mintoff had a hideaway at Bahrija and he called himself the people’s man but then stood for election in Cottonera.
Thank God (8), Scerri is not a people’s man. He is not even a bland politician but worse, he is a lawyer with no political beef.
And worse still, he is silly. Silly for having bought land from Eliza (8); a company with a questionable reputation and with directors no one would want as their godfather. It makes you wonder if Victor Scerri has any sense.
So when Astrid Vella took her band of green warriors to Bahrija, it was Dr Gonzi she should have been pointing to. If Astrid means business she should leave the politics to the politicians and nosey journalists.
The fact that the PM has experienced no shrapnel has set me thinking. It occurred to me that somewhere along the line, the spin-doctors are trying their best to burn Scerri and his architect Robert Musumeci instead.
Over and over again, I have experienced Astrid’s strange way of tackling environmental issues. She must instead hit out at the main culprits, and in this case they are Gonzi and Walker.
And if ever she gets down to having a cup of tea with the Prime Minister, she could spare a moment and suggest that the only reform that needs to take place at MEPA is a final decision on the principle of ODZ, or Outside Development Zones, and that applications in these areas should be barred. If the PM had any sense he would apply that rule NOW.

Who informed Ivan Camilleri?
So Ivan Camilleri, who happens to be Alan Camilleri’s (9) brother and a Richard Cachia Caruana acolyte, has suggested that John Dalli is being considered as EU Commissioner.
Just for the benefit of readers, when or if you read our competitors – if you still do – take everything with a pinch of salt.
Now, the first point to be made is: what does Ivan Camilleri know and who has told him? (or suggested to him to invent?)
The second question: why would Gonzi want to remove John Dalli? With such a hopeless Cabinet and so very few individuals with the expertise, losing Dalli would surely be a minus for Gonzi.
So what is the real reason for Ivan Camilleri’s speculation? Well, my only answer to this is best explained by applying reverse psychology: a science mastered by those who make it their business to appear holier than thou.
The thinking behind all this is to keep Dalli guessing that he is on the candidates’ list for Brussels.
But then if there was ever a sly fox who knows the Machiavellian ways of spin-doctors and their hired shit-stirrers (10), it has to be Dalli himself.
Which brings me to Richard, yes, the Cardinal.

The Cardinal
The Cardinal has decided to sue me for libel. Needless to say I look forward to meeting the Cardinal in court. And my choice of lawyer is specifically tailored for this great occasion.
If Richard thinks that he will clip my resolve in mentioning his political activities and his role in so many questionable spins and decisions, he is reading it all wrong.
So as from next week, there will be no more commentaries about Richard Cachia Caruana. On the other hand, there will be real life excerpts of what I experienced when I worked closely with this arrogant man.
Unlike Richard, I have nothing to lose.
The great thing about the Cardinal is that today he has more enemies in the Nationalist Party than ever before. Those who still think highly of him argue that there is no one in the PN with his work ethic and dedication. They’ll be suggesting he’s some replacement for God.
We are in for some exciting weeks, so hang on there, and read this column.

Glossary for Idiots

(1) The very objective and apolitical Fr Joe Borg.
(2) Used by apologists and insurance brokers to avoid paying for damages.
(3) Laughter not to be confused with crying.
(4) The PN’s official lawyer, who walks and talks like Austin.
(5) The CEO who manages Malta’s white elephants, SMART CITY and MITTS.
(6) The executive chairman of MEPA and buddy to the present PM.
(7) Bahrija, once a beautiful hamlet, now a sprawl of concrete.
(8) Eliza, a company that sends shivers down everyone’s spine.
(9) The chairman of Malta Enterprise and the archetypical Gonzi lackey.
(10) A reference to those who should remember that revenge is a dish best served cold.



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