Government economical over Cachia Caruana’s salary and full expenses - Brincat
Prime Minister yet to reveal more details of EU ambassador's remuneration and expenses, says Labour MP Leo Brincat.
4 July 2012, 12:00am
The government yesterday released details of Cachia Caruana's salary, after they were first refused in several PQs which only detailed his basic €38,000 civil service salary and a 10% top-up. The salary was in fact bolstered by over €100,000 in emoluments.
Brincat, who grilled Cachia Caruana during the foreign affairs hearing that preceded his resignation due to an Opposition motion, said the government was not declaring the entire expenditure that had come from Cachia Caruana's service to the state.
"With his salary of almost €150,000 a year and another €170,000 in expenses as reported in the press, Cachia Caruana was not just any civil servant... Gonzi himself admitted Cachia Caruana was not just any other diplomat, but that he was also being paid for more than one role, contrary to the replies given by the Prime Minister in previous PQs," Brincat said.
"Had government had no qualms about his role it would have provided the replies without beating about the bush."
Brincat said the Prime Minister had failed to provide a total rundown of how much Cachia Caruana's office and services had cost the exchequer, the Forms 1 that detail his expenditure from 2007 onwards, an original copy of his contract, and no confirmation of any arrears Cachia had been paid.
"The prime minister should also say whether Cachia Caruana was paid an increase in his salary as that paid to ministers, owing to his seat on the Cabinet and the fact that he is being paid a terminal benefit once he leaves his Brussels post."
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 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).
Cachia Caruana's role as permanent representative was declared by the government not on the same level as that of other ambassadors, owing to his role as an advisor to the prime minister apart from being invited to sit on Cabinet meetings. Cachia Caruana also acts as a party strategist for the Nationalist party
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.
On his part, the foreign minister has previously 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.
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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