News | Sunday, 30 November 2008

You get a €4 weekly increase

THEY GET €290!

Lawrence Gonzi has given his ministers, parliamentary secretaries and himself a lavish pay rise of over 40% in a decision taken after March’s election, MaltaToday has learnt.
The decision, which remained unannounced by the government, will cost the country an extra €224,490 a year as all ministers and parliamentary secretaries will be each getting a yearly increase of €14,966.
The ministers will effectively be getting the honorarium paid to Members of Parliament, which used to be forfeited when they got appointed to the Cabinet, and ‘only’ get a ministerial salary.
Gonzi’s Cabinet is made up of eight ministers and six parliamentary secretaries. Before the decision, ministers were paid €33,495 yearly, based on salary scale 2 of the public service schedule. Under the new decision, their wage will go up to €48,461.
The increase is expected to stir controversy at a time when the government is imposing tough measures on the people in the face of economic austerity. The increase contrasts with the meagre €4.08 cost of living adjustment given in the last budget to all the other ordinary citizens from next January.
But a spokesman for the prime minister defended the decision, justifying the ministers’ role as members of parliament as a separate job.
“The discussion on the ministerial wage and MPs’ honorarium must be viewed within the context of the anomalies which were experienced in the past legislatures; wherein government employees that were elected to parliament could no longer retain their public employment, and wherein elected MPs that had been given a ministerial portfolio would have to forfeit their MP honorarium,” the spokesman said.
“The first anomaly, relating to elected MPs retaining government employment, was addressed in the last legislature, and the other anomaly was addressed last May.”
Yet the decision taken two months after the election was not officially announced.
The prime minister’s spokesman said Gonzi spoke about it “in an interview in May” – an unconventional way of announcing such an important decision.
“The rationale is that Ministers have two functions, being those of a Minister and of an MP, and therefore carry out work pertaining to the two separate roles,” the spokesman added.
Last Sunday, sister paper Illum revealed that former ministers whom Gonzi sacked from his Cabinet as well as former Opposition leader Alfred Sant received together a total of €157,000 “to find a job”.


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