Dear Rosianne, it wasn’t the Opposition that spoke of pigs at the trough

Instead of trying to divert attention elsewhere, Rosianne Cutajar should at the very least own up to her misdeeds in the absence of resigning outright from parliament

Ever since the Auditor General released the damning findings concerning Rosianne Cutajar’s employment with the tourism school, the MP has gone on the offensive.

She has used her position in parliament to ask about the employment of Opposition MPs with State entities in a bid to try and deflect attention from her own misdeeds.

Sure enough, the information she seeks is of public interest but it would have been more complete had she asked about the employment of all MPs, including those on the government side. That is what we are doing.

It would be more interesting still had Cutajar asked for the attendance records of all MPs on the public pay roll and whether they have some special arrangement to skip work because of parliamentary and constituency duties. And if no such arrangement exists, whether unjustified absence from work is sanctioned in some way. This is what we are asking about as well.

But Cutajar is not interested in obtaining a complete picture, or even the truth for that matter. Her intention is only to deflect attention from her troubles by suggesting impropriety by Opposition MPs whose job is with a State entity. Even if there was some truth in what she is suggesting, it is irrelevant to her own circumstances.

Let us be clear on one thing: The thrust of the National Audit Office’s investigation was not the fact that Cutajar was employed by the Institute for Tourism Studies - if she was suitably qualified for a job opening she had every right to apply and be employed if selected - but the fact that the job was created specifically for her.

The NAO found no evidence whatsoever that the ITS board of governors or the school’s CEO ever suggested, claimed or even discussed the need to employ a consultant directly answerable to the chief executive.

The post was concocted by the tourism ministry, at the time led by Konrad Mizzi, and Cutajar’s name put forward for engagement. The ministry found an acquiescing CEO who employed Cutajar on a three-year contract that would have earned her €27,000 annually. The ITS board remained oblivious to Cutajar’s employment even weeks after she was engaged. Indeed, the CEO never consulted the board before signing on Cutajar. Furthermore, the NAO also questioned Cutajar’s competence to deal with certain technical aspects listed in her job description.

So, it is amply clear that the comparison Cutajar is trying to draw with Opposition MPs employed by the State is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

The NAO does not speculate as to why the ITS job was created for Cutajar but it is reasonable to reach the conclusion from the circumstances at the time that the MP was not happy on the backbench, having been looked over for a Cabinet post. The ITS job was possibly one way of placating the discontent.

After all, it was Cutajar herself in WhatsApp messages exchanged with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in 2019, who complained about her predicament on the government side. She also tried justifying with Fenech her upcoming job with ITS by saying that if everybody else is pigging out then she would be doing the same.

It is evident from Cutajar’s own words that she was frustrated and that is when Mr Fix It Konrad Mizzi stepped in to concoct a phantom job to keep her quiet.

Instead of trying to divert attention elsewhere, Cutajar should at the very least own up to her misdeeds in the absence of resigning outright from parliament.