PQ shows Muscat’s last travels as PM cost €126,000, but were not over-budget

In reply to PQ from Jason Azzopardi, PM says Joseph Muscat’s travels between November and mid-January at heart of political crisis, cost €126,000

‘Will this button take me to Dubai?’
‘Will this button take me to Dubai?’

Joseph Muscat’s travels in his last three months as prime minister of Malta were tagged at just over €126,000.

In reply to a PQ by the Nationalist Jason Azzopardi, Prime Minister Robert Abela said his predecessor’s travels during November, December and up until his resignation in mid-January, cost a total of €125,917, and €187.20 in January where he attended his last summit of the European Council.

A list of all Muscat’s travels was not requested or deposited in parliament.

According to financial estimates for 2020, the approved estimate for travel expenses for the Office of the Prime Minister in 2019 was of €1.2 million, which works out at €100,000 each month. In this case, Muscat actually would have spent 63% of the allocated average budget for both months, although there is no complete breakdown of the former PM’s travels in 2019.

Azzopardi, who requested the information, tweeted saying it was “obscene” that Muscat had spent €126,000 in travel over two and a half-months.

During those torrid months in which Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri resigned after his business partner and childhood friend Yorgen Fenech was arrested in connection with the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the former PM travelled to Rome as well as Jerusalem.

Muscat met Pope Francis in December 2019 with his family, in a private meeting which coincided with the Mediterranean Dialogues conference, but which he did not address as expected. Muscat also met Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte in a private meeting at Palazzo Chigi.

Later Muscat visited the West Bank on Christmas eve, where he was accompanied by his spouse Michelle, as well as foreign minister Carmelo Abela and his spouse, to attend midnight mass at the Church of Nativity with other foreign dignitaries and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In November, Muscat’s duties were taken up by acting prime minister Chris Fearne at least four times throughout the month.