Parliamentary secretaries actually earning less than they did before 2013, government says

The salary of a parliamentary secretary has remained pegged to a Scale 1 public service salary since 2008, but allowances have actually reduced after 2013

Parliamentary Secretaries today earn less than they used to during the 2008-2012 legislature, the government said on Monday.

Reacting to a controversy over parliamentary secretaries’ salary which erupted over the weekend, the government said this has remained equivalent to 105% of a standard Scale 1 salary. It published a full breakdown of salaries for elected officials since 2008.

“The only changes there have been can be attributed to an increase in the cost of living, and a new collective agreement, which applies to all public service employees,” the statement read.

It added that this was clear from parliamentary secretaries’ declaration of assets since 2008.

The government said it was worth noting that in March 2008 “the government had decided to increase cabinet members’ salaries behind people’s backs”.

“For this reason, ministers and parliamentary secretaries declared an income of €80,000 in 2009 and 2010,” the government said.

“In cabinet members’ declaration for 2008, an amount that is far lower appears. There is a clear explanation. The €500 a week increase came into effect after the March 2008 election.”

In the following years, the government said, the declarations were different, because “the Prime Minister at the time had first reduced, and then scraped the plans after a public outcry”.

Compared to the 2008-2012 legislature parliamentary secretaries’ allowance had been reduced, the government said, insisting that parliamentary secretaries were today earning €22,000 less than the period 2008-2010 when ministers and parliamentary secretaries were also receiving an MP’s honorarium.

According to the data provided by the government, whereas parliamentary secretaries were entitled to a duty allowance equivalent to 20% of their salary before 2013, this was changed to a flat rate of €5,823.48.

In addition to their allowance, parliamentary secretaries and ministers have been receiving a cash payment of roughly €350, as a result of new collective agreement for public service employees.

Parliamentary secretaries are also entitled to a second car or an additional allowance of €7,000.

Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar explained that there was no law outlining what remuneration minsters and parliamentary secretaries should receive and that this was decided by cabinet.

He said that in 2013, a cabinet decision had reversed changes introduced during the previous legislature. Any changes since then are due to an increase in the Cost of Living Adjustment and an increase in public service wages which came into force in 2017.

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