Dalli refuses commissioners’ transitional allowance from Brussels

Former European Commissioner says he got authorisation from EC secretary-general Catherine Day to carry out report on Mater Dei for Maltese government.

John Dalli
John Dalli

Former European Commissioner John Dalli has insisted he was still a member of the EU's executive, even though he was asked to step down back in October 2012.

Dalli yesterday said on PBS's Reporter that he was still contesting his forced resignation in the European Court of Justice and that he considered his sacking by Commission president José Manuel Barroso to be null.

Dalli was asked to resign on the strength of a covering letter from EU anti-fraud agency OLAF claiming he was aware of an attempt at bribing snus tobacco manufacturers Swedish Match, in a bid to lift an EU retail ban on snus. The allegations proved to be circumstantial and based on a series of telephone call logs' data, a leaked copy of the OLAF report later showed.

Dalli yesterday said he had sought permission from the Commission to undertake a review of Mater Dei Hospital, on a voluntary basis, by prime minister Joseph Muscat.

He told MaltaToday today that it was secretary-general Catherine Day who authorised him to undertake this government work. "A commissioner who takes up a job with anyone within 18 months of his tenure coming to an end must seek permission from the Commission. And I asked for that permission," Dalli said.

But Dalli says he still considers himself to be a commissioner. "I insist that my resignation is null and that I am still a commissioner."

He also said that he has refused the Commission's transitional allowance that is paid to former commissioners for three years after their exit from the EC, worth between 40% to 65% of their final salary.

"The Commission twice deposited the transitional allowance in my bank account, but I refused it and instructed my legal counsel to take action on this matter. Since then, the EC have stopped paying me the transitional allowance."

Dalli yesterday appeared on Reporter together with the Medical Association of Malta's  secretary-general Martin Balzan, who has been critical of Dalli's review of Mater Dei Hospital.

Health minister Godfrey Farrugia said that Dalli's report is being scrutinised by two committees and if need be, their conclusions will be passed on to the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General and the Auditor General to see whether there is any criminal liability in accounts of pilferage and possible maladministration.

Dalli's report also pointed out that the adjudication process for a €25 million IT system at Mater Dei Hospital had been stopped in favour of the internal development of a new IT system. Dalli claimed that the patient administration system (PAS) was being discontinued because it was an old system, and that there was little time to seek out a different system. The only alternative for the health ministry was to roll over the contract with the same supplier, at a cost of around €2.5 million for a new licence, an upgrade, and a "temporary" maintenance agreement of five years.

Maybe Mr. Dalli is hoping that Malta Labour Party will be running Brussels and then replace the OLAF Commissioner and the new OLAF Commissioner will drop the charges and reappoint Mr. Dalli as a consultant to the Health Commissioner! Dream on Mr. Dalli.