maltapolitics.com tikkundanna bl-aktar mod qawwi iz-zieda li l-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari taw lilhom infushom. Din ma kienetx xi zieda zghira imma meta qeghdin nitkelmu fuq €500 fil-gimgha qeghdin nitkelmu fuq ammont kbir ghal zewg ragunijiet:
maltapolitics.com tirraguna illi l-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari hadu din iz-zieda minghajr ma zdiedilhom ix-xoghol. Baqghu litteralment jaghmlu l-istess xoghol bhal qabel imma bdew jaqilghu €500 ohra fil-gimgha. Din mhux cajta, €500 ohra ma’ li diga kienu jaqilghu. Ma jigi hadd jiprova jdahhak li bis-salarji li diga kellhom ma kienux komdi. Ma ninsewx li minbarra s-salarju taghhom kellhom ukoll privileggi ohra marbuta max-xoghol taghhom.
Gonzi rraguna illi trid tifred ix-xoghol ministerjali mix-xoghol parlamentari. Argument zbaljat ghall-ahhar u nispjega ghaliex. Il-Membru Parlamentari elett ghandu dmirijiet parlamentari li jenhtiegu l-presenza tieghu/taghha fil-parlament u f’kumitati ohra tal-kamra kif ukoll xoghol iehor konness mal-parlament. U bhala Membru Parlamentari l-MP ghandu/ghandha s-salarju tieghu/taghha. Issa, s-sistema Maltija hija tali li l-membri tal-Kabinett tal-Ministri iridu jkunu Membri Parlamentari u minhabba li bhala Ministru u Segretarju Parlamentari ix-xoghol naturalment se jizdied, allura dawn il-membri tal-Kabinett jinghataw salarju ghola minn dak tal-MPs l-ohra. Imma ma tistax teskludi u tifred ix-xoghol parlamentari mix-xoghol ministerjali ghax kull Ministru u Segretarju Parlamentari ghandu dejjem l-obbligi tieghu/taghha lejn il-Parlament fejn hu/hi gie elett u minn fejn beda biex sar membru tal-Kabinett.
Dan ir-ragunament m’hux biss ta’ maltapolitics.com. F’Jannar 1994, il-Prim Ministru ta’ dak iz-zmien Eddie Fenech Adami kien hareg Kodici ta’ Etika cari illi jelenkaw id-dmirijiet tal-Membri tal-Kabinett. Hawn taht tistghu taraw car daqs il-kristall id-doveri tal-Membri tal-Kabinett kif decizi f’dawn il-kodici. Trid tkun wiccek tost bhal ta’ Lawrence Gonzi li tirraguna li ghandha tinghata zieda fenominali fis-salarju ghal xoghol li minn dejjem kien parti mid-dmirijiet tal-Ministri u s-Segretarji Parlamentari. Dan m’hu xejn hlief serq ta’ flus il-poplu, l-istess poplu li Dr. Gonzi ma tqazzez xejn jitolbu jaghmel is-sagrificcji.
We will say it again… wrong. We are of course talking about the decision by the government to increase the salaries of MPs in an effort to “cushion” their return to a normal lifestyle once out of politics. What on earth is this government thinking? Backdated to 2008 to boot? At a time when families are scrimping and saving to celebrate Christmas, the government goes and announces that MPs are to get a whopping increase of about €600 per week. It is a case of political suicide; it really is.
Editorjal, The Malta Independent 13.12.2010
The recent ministerial rises are “exaggerated” according to Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin general secretary Gejtu Vella. Speaking at a union activity and in comments to timesofmalta.com, Mr Vella said the union believed parliamentarians and ministers should have an adequate salary, but the way this increase had been given was not sensitive to the difficulties workers, pensioners and their families are going through right now. “We would have expected this process to take place more responsibly,” Mr Vella said, adding parliamentarians should lead by example. Asked if the pay was “adequate”, Mr Vella said “in these circumstances, in the current circumstances, the raise is exaggerated and should not have been given at this stage”. The general secretary said the greatest cause of concern to the union and its members right now was the international situation where demonstrations, general strikes and protests were taking place. Whatever happened abroad would affect Malta as well, he said. He also said the union was “worried” on the awarding of the power station extension contract and said ther matter should be more transparent for the people to be assured that the contract was given in the proper way and have the assurance that taxpayers’ money was spent properly. “Until there are lingering doubts on the way this contract was awarded, the country will never understand the benefits of this new extension,” Mr Vella said.
timesofmalta.com 16.12.2010 - 13:49CET
Ministers had been receiving an increase of almost €600 a week since the decision was taken in May 2008, “behind our backs”, according to Nationalist MP Jean-Pierre Farrugia. He told The Times yesterday it was “very upsetting” to learn in recent days that other MPs – including backbenchers like himself – had been receiving a lower honorarium than ministers for two and half years. “In Parliament we are all meant to be the same, so this can never be acceptable... this is not on,” he argued. “Some parliamentary secretaries might not have realised they were being paid differently because they were new and had nothing to compare their salaries to. But others, who were in the Cabinet before, knew very well,” he said, adding he was “dumbfounded” by such behaviour.
timesofmalta.com 13.1.2011 - 08:53CET
Nationalist MP Jean-Pierre Farrugia has called for resignations over the way increases were granted to ministers and MPs behind the public’s back, calling it an “unprecedented mess”. “Those who made this mess – and this is a mess – should shoulder responsibility. I don’t know where the responsibility lies. I don’t know whether the Prime Minister is directly responsible. I wouldn’t drop it on his lap because he has enough responsibilities... “But the people who advised him... I think heads must roll. Because this is unprecedented... You won’t find it happening anywhere else,” the backbencher said yesterday. He said former Labour Prime Minister Alfred Sant was “frankly, bang on” when he accused the government of ridiculing MPs and being in contempt of Parliament by the way the pay rises were granted and announced. Dr Farrugia’s comments come a day after he said ministers and parliamentary secretaries had been receiving their higher honoraria since the decision was taken in May 2008. On the other hand, the rise that was meant to be given to the other MPs had yet to be given to them. He said the issue had “upset” him because all MPs were meant to be treated equally. The government has explained that while MPs got their salaries from Parliament, ministers were paid by their ministries, so, in their case, the changes could be made straightaway. When contacted, Dr Sant said Dr Farrugia’s revelation further strengthened his argument about contempt of Parliament, which he raised in Parliament last week and will follow up with the Speaker next week. He said if ministers were allowed to keep their honoraria they should have been paid by Parliament not by their ministries; otherwise this was just a separate pay rise. Neither was Dr Farrugia happy with the government’s explanation, saying: “It doesn’t make a difference which department is paying. MPs should receive the same salary. So it was definitely wrong to have ministers and parliamentary secretaries paid an increased rate for half a legislature while the rest did not even know if they’re going to get the increase.” Dr Farrugia pointed out that since backbenchers were kept in the dark about the increases – while the rest were already pocketing the money – their objections could never have reversed the decision. Dr Farrugia and his colleague, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, chose to donate their pay rise to causes close to their hearts. Asked whether he would take any other action, Dr Farrugia said: “The stability of the government from my end was never in question and it will never ever be.” When pressed about whether he felt comfortable within a party he disagreed with so strongly, he admitted it was disheartening to find out that 15 of his senior colleagues “found no difficulty in pocketing their pay rises for two and half years”. He added: “I’m 48 and I can wait. I can wait.” Pressed whether this meant he would wait for a change in leadership, he said: “I have been in the Nationalist Party since 1982 and I look forward to remaining even after the next election. What can I tell you more than that? I can wait.”
The Times 14.1.2011
Someone must be responsible for the administrative mistake that led to the ministerial salary increase being carried out behind people’s backs. The mess on the ministerial salary increase that led to a parliamentary motion tabled by Opposition leader Joseph Muscat is the biggest embarrassment that any Maltese Prime Minister has been subjected to since Independence in 1964. Many do not agree with my already expressed opinion that the increases were justified, but this is not the point. Even if the increases were a quarter of what they actually were, the real scandal is in the way government’s decision was put into force by the civil service and the way the people of Malta were kept in the dark about it. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi says this was the result of an administrative mistake and I believe him. But who is responsible for this administrative mistake? Under the government of Lawrence Gonzi, people who were deemed responsible for much lesser administrative mistakes have had to resign and this gave the message that his leadership wanted to reinforce the notion of accountability and responsibility for one’s actions. That is as it should be. However, in this messy case Lawrence Gonzi has taken a different tack. He says the mess is all the result of an administrative mistake and stops there. Is it any wonder that people start asking whether the notion that administrative mistakes lead to consequences is not a universal principle as in practice it is subject to selectivity? I would have thought that the more serious an administrative mistake is, the more serious are the consequences. The people are now faced with a situation where the administration does not follow its own much vaunted principles announced out for the approval and the admiration of the common citizen. The considerate way in which dissenting Nationalist MPs have tackled the problem when having to take a decision on Joseph Muscat’s motion should not be abused of by being part of a process in which the dust is swept under the carpet. I understand that these MPs did not want to appear as if they are all out to destabilise the government that depends on their support, more so after the divorce referendum episode. But this is no green light for Gonzi to starting acting as if nothing serious really happened – ‘come se non fosse niente’, as the Italians say. Is Lawrence Gonzi covering up for someone whom he wouldn’t like to ditch? If this is the case, then this is yet another grave mistake – practically equivalent to the administrative mess that led to Lawrence Gonzi’s greatest embarrassment. The Prime Minister is duty bound to find out who is responsible for this mistake; even carry out an investigation in order to establish who should carry the can. He should go public about this and ask whoever it is to resign from whichever perch he sits on. There is no other decent way out. The country will not forget this mess unless the PM acts in this way. Heads must roll. – Michael Falzon, maltatoday.com.mt 13.6.2011
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has issued his second apology in six months over the handling and execution of the Cabinet raises granted in May 2008, just over a week after he defended the decision in Parliament. “Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot,” he told PN councillors in yesterday’s closing session of the general council meeting. Dr Gonzi defended the decision to allow Cabinet members to retain their MP’s honorarium, saying it was taken in May 2008 when the world was a different place. “But the way it was executed and implemented was wrong. We did not listen enough and we definitely did not explain enough. We ended up looking insensitive today for something we did three years ago,” he said, with regret, adding that this issue had overshadowed the three years of hard work by his Cabinet. “A series of mistakes were made. Things definitely should not have been done this way. But I will point a finger at no one. I am the Prime Minister and I shoulder full responsibility for this decision.” At this point, a member of his audience was heard saying, “You don’t have to,” but Dr Gonzi dismissed the remark and insisted on his apology. “But I will continue to work hard to move this country forward... We cannot let this taint our achievements. I never shied away from making apologies.” His comments come a week after the Labour Party’s motion labelling the Cabinet decision “insensitive, arbitrary and non-transparent” was defeated in Parliament despite strong reservations from some Nationalist MPs. The “honoraria issue”, as it has come to be known, exploded last year when the Cabinet’s decision of May 2008 was finally revealed in full through a parliamentary question. MPs found out they were due a raise which only ministers had thus far been receiving. Amid public outcry, some MPs decided to pledge their raise to charity, labelling it “insensitive”. In January, Dr Gonzi apologised in Parliament, made his ministers refund a part of their raise and postponed any increases to the MPs’ honorarium, which, however, ministers were allowed to keep. But as The Times revealed last month, ministers kept a €500 weekly increase (which includes a previously unexplained annual duty allowance increase of €6,000) and the Speaker and opposition leader remained on the old salary. Dr Gonzi’s comments yesterday came after the Office of the Prime Minister failed to answer questions from The Times which were initially raised by Nationalist MP Jesmond Mugliett. In a press statement last week, Mr Mugliett had asked who was responsible for what Dr Gonzi has previously described as an “administrative error” in the way the raises were issued before Parliament, the public and the opposition were informed. He also asked whether any action had been taken against who was responsible.
The Times 20.6.2011
A first-class comedy of errors and its sequels
Rarely in Malta’s recent political history has a matter angered the people so much as the way in which ministers and parliamentary secretaries granted themselves a rise in pay and duty allowance. An Opposition motion condemning the “insensitive, arbitrary and non-transparent” behaviour of the Cabinet on this issue was defeated, but it is hard to believe that what must rank as one of the government’s gravest mistakes would go away soon, even though the Prime Minister has now made a full apology over the issue. The Prime Minister’s speech on the motion in Parliament may have been passionate, as one report described it, but it was far from convincing on the most important principle involved in the whole issue, transparency. Some Opposition members may have been aware of the rise but, clearly, the matter had not been properly aired, in and out of Parliament, as it should have been. In fact, not even members of Parliament from the government’s own party had been aware of the fact that ministers and parliamentary secretaries had also been given the honorarium besides their salaries and, to boot, that the honorarium rate had been increased. This is the crux of the issue. And to make matters even worse, while the ministers and parliamentary secretaries had begun receiving the honorarium at the increased rate as from 2008, the rest of the MPs, as well as the leader of the Opposition and the Speaker, had remained without the rise. This raised the hackles of one of the government’s own MPs who, describing the mishandling of the matter as an unprecedented mess, was courageous and forthright enough to call for heads to roll over the issue. Another member chose to describe the mess as a comedy of errors. Speaking of errors, the Prime Minister put more salt into the wound when he reportedly told his MPs that there had been an administrative error. This is far too feeble an excuse, to put it mildly, to be thrown into the argument. Following a national outrage, the Prime Minister admitted the mistake and it was decided that the rise in the honorarium had to be refunded. There was another twist to the story when this newspaper revealed that, besides the rise in the honorarium, the Cabinet had also decided to raise the duty allowance by 20 per cent, which meant an additional rise of £6,000. Where does the country go from here over this issue? A Labour Party proposal for the setting up of an external body to suggest changes to the salaries has been rejected by the government. Instead, the Prime Minister is now proposing that the matter ought to go before the parliamentary select committee that had been set up with a view to seeing how democracy can be further strengthened. He feels there ought to be a mechanism to decide and monitor the pay of ministers and MPs on the model of the House of Commons. The problem is that the committee has not been meeting since the Opposition members walked out over an issue involving the way one of its members was alleged to have voted on a particular matter in Parliament. The Prime Minister is suggesting the re-activation of the committee, and the Opposition leader has not ruled this out. A great deal has been said these days about the need for MPs and Parliament to start regaining the respect they have lost. Maybe an agreement on this matter would help lay the first block towards the rebuilding of their reputation.
Editorjal, The Times 21.6.2011
In January, Dr Gonzi apologised in Parliament, made his ministers refund a part of their raise and postponed any increases to the MPs’ honorarium, which, however, ministers were allowed to keep.
The Times 20.6.2011