Additional reporting by Miriam Dalli.
Malta's permanent representative to the European Union, Richard Cachia Caruana, earned an annual salary of some €148,000 that includes emoluments to top up his civil service salary.
The foreign ministry confirmed information MaltaToday presented it with on Friday, that outgoing permanent representative Richard Cachia Caruana was paid close to €150,000 in salary and global emoluments, apart from expenses for his Ixelles apartment, housekeeping and chauffeur.
Cachia Caruana was paid the top civil service salary and a 10% top-up for a total of over €42,000 a year but also an additional €100,883 in global emoluments that took his salary close to €150,000 a year.
MaltaToday is informed that Cachia Caruana additionally was paid another €96,000 to rent out his duplex apartment over the artificial lakes in the wealthy Ixelles district, in Brussels, as well as another €75,000 for the payment of the outgoing ambassador's housekeeping, a personal driver, and a police escort.
These figures have not been denied by the foreign ministry.
But Borg's statement confirms that Cachia Caruana benefited from the highest public sector salaries ever paid put by the Maltese government - going head to head with such handsomely-paid civil servants like former Central Bank governor Michael C. Bonello (€128,000), Communications Authority chairman Philip Micallef and Malta Environment and Planning Authority chairman Austin Walker (€94,000).
The belated reply from foreign minister Tonio Borg to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Leo Brincat, who first asked for the information in a foreign affairs committee hearing, comes after MaltaToday informed the minister it would be publishing details of Cachia Caruana's salary last Friday.
His replies were sent out to the press this evening after Borg's spokesperson had informed MaltaToday earlier Tuesday morning that this newspaper could expect its replies shortly.
Borg also stated unequivocally that Cachia Caruana's role as permanent representative could not be considered to be on the same level as bilateral postings for ambassadors or similar posts to organisations such as the United Nations. "The permanent representative to the EU leads and coordinates all levels of relations between Malta and the EU."
This explanation justified, Borg said, Cachia Caruana's salary being tagged at the highest grade of the civil service rather than the ambassador's scale 3 salary.
Cachia Caruana also acted as the prime minister's advisor on EU affairs, which salary also covered this aspect of his role, Borg said.
The foreign minister said Cachia Caruana's 10% top-up of €3,818 was "a recognition of him being one of the most experienced individuals in the service of government, having continuously served in the highest of roles even before 1996," Borg said.
But this is nothing compared to the €100,000 in global emoluments which Borg said reflected expenses incurred by all serving ambassadors. Malta employs the formula for emoluments used by the United Nations, save for a 10% deduction.
Borg also confirmed Cachia Caruana's remuneration covered his accommodation, housekeeping and personal chauffeur, but did not disclose their expenses - which MaltaToday is already aware of.
Borg claimed that replacing Cachia Caruana with two persons to take his post would cost an additional €35,000 over the present remuneration.
He was previously paid €115,395 before 2009 increased salaries across the civil service.
Since forcing his resignation from permanent representative to the EU in a motion of censure secured with the vote of government MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, the Labour party has demanded a detailed breakdown of all foreign ministry payments to Richard Cachia Caruana.
Labour MP Leo Brincat, one of the Opposition MPs who grilled Cachia Caruana in the foreign affairs committee on his role in reactivating Malta's participation in Nato's Partnership for Peace, got little joy in a reply from foreign minister Tonio Borg this week to disclose all global emoluments and allowances paid to Cachia Caruana.
Specifically, Brincat asked Borg to disclose the ministry's 'Forms 1' from 2007 onwards to detail the expenses of each ambassador, Cachia Caruana included. Borg however did not provide a copy of the contract of service for Cachia Caruana, and details of the adjustments to his salary over the past six years, and any arrears he received.
On his part, the foreign minister has insisted in directing MPs to a previous reply to a parliamentary question that puts Cachia Caruana's salary at the €38,000 civil service Grade 1 salary, and a 10% top-up. Cachia Caruana takes no performance bonus but he will receive a terminal benefit upon his departure from Brussels, as well as a transitional facility for the next months to assist in his transition from ambassador.
The transitional allowance was introduced by Lawrence Gonzi in 2008 to assist former ministers, and the Opposition leader, in phasing-out their high incomes when returning to their private, professional occupations.
The 'job' description
Also included in Borg's statement was Richard Cachia Caruana's detailed job description, which states that as Malta's permanent representative to the EU, Cachia Caruana's role was to represent Malta at official level in all negotiations that took place within the EU structures with other Member States, the European Commission and members of the European Parliament.
Among other responsibilities to attend various committees of permanent representatives, Cachia Caruana was also responsible for alerting government to any aspect of discussion at EU level that may have policy implications for Malta.
He was also responsible for working with Ministries and other entities to coordinate the required response, including the formal and informal negotiation of such issues with the representatives of the EU or other member states.
But Cachia Caruana was not only Malta's ambassador to the EU, but also adviser to the Prime Minister on EU affairs.
His job description included the responsibility of ensuring that the PM was always appropriately briefed on key strategic issues concerning the EU and that of overseeing the preparation of all position papers, including any analysis required and the recommendations detailing the best course of action to be followed.
His job description entails that Cachia Caruana participates regularly in Cabinet meetings in order to update Cabinet on all EU-related developments on a weekly basis, provide information and advice on any items raised in Cabinet that may have an EU dimension and assist Ministers in coordinating effective follow up to any such items raised.
As the PM's adviser, Cachia Caruana also chaired the inter-ministerial committee for EU affairs and oversaw the functions of the EU Secretariat.