Standards czar finds no ethics breach in Ian Borg’s Easter advert

The advert, wishing readers a happy Easter, appeared on It-Torċa, and was paid for by Transport Minister Ian Borg himself

Transport Minister Ian Borg
Transport Minister Ian Borg

The standards czar George Hyzler has concluded Transport Minister Ian Borg was not in breach of parliamentary ethics when commissioning an advertisement to wish the public a happy Easter.

“This was verified by the Commissioner from the invoice and the receipt for payment, which were presented to him by Minister Borg. In addition, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry confirmed that no payments were made by the ministry in connection with the advert,” the standards report read.

The advert cost €82.60.

According to the report, the advert, which appeared on newspaper It-Torċa on Easter Sunday, was paid for by Borg personally, not through his ministry.

It included a photograph of Minister Ian Borg and the text “The Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects wishes a happy Easter to the people of Malta and Gozo. Work in our communities will continue so we can keep providing a better quality of life.”

The advert wished readers a happy Easter
The advert wished readers a happy Easter

The advert also included Malta’s national coat of arms.

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola complained to the commissioner about the advert on the grounds that it should not have been paid for with public funds. If, on the other hand, the advert had been paid for personally by Ian Borg, Cassola stated that it should not have included the national coat of arms.

Borg informed Hyzler that the coat of arms had been included in the advert by mistake.

The commissioner also observed the advert should have been issued in the name of the Minister, not the ministry, but accepted that this too was a mistake.

“The Commissioner noted that once the Minister had paid for the advert himself, he had nothing to gain by issuing it in the name of his ministry rather than in his own name,” the report read.

The commissioner concluded that there had been no breach of ethics in this case and dismissed the complaint.

Arnold Cassola wrote to the commissioner after the verdict was published to express his thoughts on the situation.

"Allow me to say that I think you are being too good and naive with a shark like Ian Borg - someone who already tried to fool you into thinking he said 'Ħa qalanas' on TV," Cassola replied back.

The independent MP still bowed his head to the decision and respected the commissioner's final say on the advert.