The new President of the Labour Party, former One TV propagandist Ramona Attard, has held one government job after another, some of which she was clearly unqualified for, and even found time to finish her law degree during the same hours she claimed to be working at her government jobs.
Working for various ministries, including the Office of the Prime Minister under Joseph Muscat, she has been benefitting from lucrative contracts for the past seven years.
Moreover, while working in handsomely paid full time jobs, which normally requires remaining at the office for much longer than the required 40 hours per week, Attard also found the time to produce and present regular TV programmes on the Labour Party station.
The Shift has learned that while working full time. She graduated and became a lawyer in 2017, while working for government, according to her CV.
Installed as the PL’s new President last week, without the need of an election since no one else officially showed interest in the post – Attard declared that she wanted to “renew” the Party.
Her work record shows she was privileged, benefitting from her political affiliations, friendships and nepotism.
After spending a few years as a Labour ‘reporter’ with the Party’s station One TV, Attard moved onto the government payroll on the same day Labour was elected in 2013 as Chief of Staff of then-Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg.
After two months she left her employment with Borg for a position with Manuel Mallia – at the time National Security and Interior Minister.
Normally, such a move from the parliamentary secretariat to a Ministry should have resulted in an automatic reduction in her financial package, as from Chief of Staff she became a Deputy Chief of Staff. Yet she still kept her full salary and perks, with the government insisting that Attard be given ‘extra duties’ by the former Nationalist-leaning criminal lawyer turned Labour minister.
During her stint at the Interior Ministry, Attard made headlines when she was put on a panel to select army officers for promotion.
A later report by the Ombudsman concluded it was a “vitiated process” and questioned Attard’s qualifications to be involved in such a selection board. The process had resulted in two army officers loyal to the Labour Party, Jeffrey Curmi and Mark Mallia, given a record four consecutive promotions in less than three months and taking over the reins of the AFM.
Again, her stint at Mallia’s secretariat did not last, as Attard found herself without a job as soon as Mallia was sacked over the infamous shooting incident involving his driver.
The OPM came to the rescue.
Soon, the new PL President was put onto the OPM payroll, this time assisting Kurt Farrugia in the OPM’s communications office.
OPM contracts, signed by Attard and seen by The Shift, show that she was not given any specific role at the OPM, except as ‘advisor’, despite her having no on-the-job experience or academic qualifications. Still, she was given a financial package of almost €50,000 per year.
In an unusual addition to her reported pay, OPM contracts show that apart from her salary and a variety of allowances, Attard was given an €8,000 per year unspecified “expertise allowance”.
It is unclear what expertise Attard possessed, although she is remembered for telling journalists during a press conference in which the press was not allowed to ask questions to the former Prime Minister, that “just because it is a press conference, it doesn’t mean you can ask questions”.
As soon as disgraced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was forced to resign, she was back with her former boss, now Minister Ian Borg.
Without any known knowledge of planning legislation, Borg appointed the newly graduated lawyer to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, a quasi-judicial tribunal, which decides on controversial property development permits.
This effectively meant that while advancing her new career in advocacy, by joining a small legal firm, Attard was given a large salary boost with taxpayer funds with an extra €24,000 per year, apart from other perks, as a member of the tribunal.
Following her submission for the post of PL president, Attard said she had resigned from the tribunal.
According to her contract, which was for five years, “if the notice period is not worked in full (90 days) she may incur a penalty in accordance with the law”.
It is not known whether Attard was asked to pay a penalty for resigning prematurely and not working during the notice period.