Home > Features, Opinion > Minister Dolores Cristina and the Frozen Funds!

Minister Dolores Cristina and the Frozen Funds!

Minister Dolores Cristina still refuses to take responsability for the EU Programmes blunder and students remain without funding.

More than a year and half have passed since the EUPA scandal disappointed so many Maltese students who lost their opportunity to study abroad.

It was a classic case of incompetence and mismanagement of the Life-Long Learning and Youth in Action EU Educational Programmes that is supposed to be the responsability of the  Education Minister, Dolores Cristina.

The funds for these programmes were estimated to be about 7 million euros and have yet to be tapped by the Maltese government and distributed to our youths.

It is a real tragedy that as thousands of European youths are happily participating in so many EU educational programmes around Europe, Maltese and Gozitan youths are eagerly waiting for Cristina’s Ministry to convince the European Commission to totally remove the suspension that was rightly imposed after grave shortcomings were found in their administration.

During the last few days, some worrying developments occurred notwithstanding the many press releases that have been steadily issued since last January assuring everybody that the suspension would be removed shortly and applications issued from the EUPA so that anyone interested may apply for the programmes.

Unfortunately, it has resulted that Maltese youths still cannot take part in these programmes.

This meant that all those who applied for a mobility project were left in the dark without knowing if their application was approved or rejected.  Worse still, to hide the fact that the European Commission is still not satisfied with the measures taken by Cristina’s Ministry to solve the problems that plagued EUPA, and to avoid a blitzkrieg of criticism due to the programmes still being suspended, the Ministry thought of the brilliant idea of refusing all applications!

The sheer arrogance of these political maneuvers is galling particularly after a board of inquiry set up a year ago had already found a pair of sacrificial lambs, Christopher Bezzina and Robert Tabone who repeatedly insisted that they were wrongly blamed and were callously used to quell the public’s uproar at Dolores Cristina’s incompetency.

Professor Bezzina wrote that his suspension came from people higher up on the political hierarchy and blamed bad management at the EUPA for the blunder. He also intimated that the higher-ups were actually being given a form of immunity by the Minister. (Maybe because one of them was her son?)

It is very sad that the real culprits behind the EU mobility projects within Cristina’s ministry are still at large enjoying huge salaries, while youths and students cannot enjoy the same rights as their European counterparts; and the bottom line is that these monies are actually funded from our taxes.

In light of all this, Minister Dolores Cristina has an enormous responsibility on her shoulders that she still refuses to bear.

If she is not enough of a politician to resign she knows that during the next elections this sorry episode will not be  forgotten.

 (Loosely translated from an editorial article by Josef Caruana first published on l-orizzont)

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