PL tells Busuttil to walk the talk on former ministers’ salary refunds

Labour says Opposition leader Simon Busuttil must tell shadow cabinet to refund additional honoraria claimed in 2008 salary increase

Labour say Busuttil must tell his MPs in the last Gonzi Cabinet to pay back their salary increases
Labour say Busuttil must tell his MPs in the last Gonzi Cabinet to pay back their salary increases

The Labour Party has sent out a missive to Opposition leader Simon Busuttil ahead of what should be a hard-hitting speech at the end of the PN’s General Council – themed ‘Honest Politics’ – calling on all former Nationalist ministers to repay almost three years in salaries claimed through the secretive €500 weekly increase in 2008.

“Busuttil has a golden opportunity today to turn words into action. To be taken seriously, he has to declare that nine former ministers and parliamentary secretaries in the last Nationalist Cabinet and who are still part of his shadow cabinet, pay back all the extra salaries claimed in the €500 weekly increase,” the PL said.

While Busuttil has claimed that all salary increases were paid back, Labour is insisting that deputy leader Mario de Marco, secretary-general Chris Said, George Pullicino, Jason Azzopardi, Carm Mifsud Bonnici, Joe Cassar, Giovanna Debono, Clyde Puli and Mario Galea have paid only €20,000 of some €120,000 paid to them over four years folllowing the 2008 salary increase.

“It should be Busuttil, who preaches on moral authority and honest politics, to declare that these MPs pay back almost a million euros... and she state how in the last electoral campaign he delcared that the €500 weekly increments were paid back, when it turns out that this had never happened.”

PN Secretary General Chris Said has denied claims by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that former PN Cabinet members had not refunded the increase in their wages they were meant to have done.

Said is referring to Muscat’s first interview on Dissett shortly after being elected in 2013, where he said that all money due had been refunded.

But in a reply to a parliamentary question, Muscat said that not all the money claimed in the salary increase had been repaid.

Between 2008 and 2011, the top salaries paid to the Gonzi II Cabinet were topped up by an MP’s honorarium tagged at 70% of Scale 1 salaries.

 The outrage at the salary increase in 2011 led to ministers having to refund €21,000 for each year, representing the portion over and above the standard honorarium (50% of Scale 1), for each year since 2008. In 2012 Lawrence Gonzi forfeited the ministers’ parliamentary honorarium altogether when he announced a cabinet reshuffle.

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