Both sides claim victory as Speaker issues ruling on PAC shouting match
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Both sides claim victory as Speaker issues ruling on PAC shouting match

Anġlu Farrugia weighed in on dispute about Jason Azzopardi's right to deliver a statement

Land at Fekruna Bay in Xemxija was expropriated for €5 million a few days before the 2013 general election. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi.

Land at Fekruna Bay in Xemxija was expropriated for €5 million a few days before the 2013 general election. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi.

Speaker Anġlu Farrugia on Monday weighed in on a procedural matter that last week saw the Public Accounts Committee descend into a screaming match between Government and Opposition MPS.

The PAC descended into farce last week as Nationalist and Labour MPs sparred for a full hour over whether Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi should deliver a statement verbally or in writing.

Committee chairman Beppe Fenech Adami had argued that previous witnesses before the committee had all been allowed to read out their statements, while Labour MP Robert Abela insisted this was at the discretion of the committee and demanded a vote.

As shouting ensued, Dr Fenech Adami eventually requested a ruling from the Speaker and suspended the meeting.

In his lengthy ruling, delivered on Monday, Dr Farrugia found that in the absence of an agreement in the committee, the witness should be given a period of time – ideally not longer than 10 minutes – to explain the salient points of their written statement.

Shortly after the ruling was issued, Dr Azzopardi took to Twitter to claim vindication.

“Mr Speaker’s Ruling just now confirmed what I stated last week in PAC, i.e it’s my right to read out a written statement before answering any questions, exactly in line with years long practice. Exactly contrary to what Labour MPs said,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Julia Farrugia Portelli tweeted that the Speaker’s ruling had confirmed that Labour MPs were right to ask Dr Azzopardi “to spare us from a read with me session”.

“Ruling states that when there is no agreement between members, the witness can be granted a max of 10 min to summarize his written statement,” she tweeted.

The PAC proceedings revolve around the controversial Fekruna Bay expropriation deal and a National Audit Office report into the 2013 land deal by the previous Nationalist administration.

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