If there’s one thing your former finance minister likes spending money on, it’s himself.
Let’s tally up all the government pay cheques Edward Scicluna is currently cashing.
He was earning €62,979 per year as finance minister, but that’s likely gone up substantially now that he’s Governor of the Central Bank. More on that below.
According to his tax return, he’s also raking in over €52,000 in “pensions, interest and dividends”. This includes three taxpayer-funded pensions: one for his time as an MEP and two local pensions.
His pension for his time as finance minister is two-thirds of a ministerial salary: over €30,000 per year. And of course the 74-year old should-be-retired bureaucrat is still drawing the normal social security pension paid to anyone over the age of 62.
Scicluna was finally pried out of the finance ministry earlier this year, but not until he had another secure job waiting on the horizon.
Despite being under criminal investigation for his role in a public-private partnership that saw the government hand over three hospitals to known fraudsters for the princely sum of €1, Scicluna became Governor of the Central Bank of Malta.
But don’t expect him to look after your interests there, either. The first thing he seems to have done was look after himself.
Scicluna reminds me of a high school relationship. You know, the sort where you really don’t get along — of course it’s never your fault — but you stick around for the benefits. And you only jump ship when someone better comes along.
The former finance minister went one better than this. He actually gave a nice surprise pay raise to the guy whose job he was angling to take.
The previous Central Bank Governor was earning €89,000 per year, a package his contract said would remain the same for the full five year term — a term which was due to end in July.
Then along comes Uncle Eddie with a surprise.
Robert Abela hadn’t even warmed his new chair at Castille when Scicluna contacted Central Bank Governor Mario Vella out of nowhere to let him know his pay would now be €100,000 per year.
Was the prime minister already giving his disgraced Finance Minister the bum’s rush? We assumed they pushed ol’ Eddie out because they need to convince Monyeval that post-Muscat Malta isn’t just more of the same.
But the motive for demotion may have been more typically Maltese. Scicluna’s replacement as finance minister was Clyde Caruana, Abela’s unelected chief of staff.
Either way, Scicluna must have known his days were numbered. Instead of being forced to resign in disgrace for enabling rampant corruption, he dug his brittle old fingernails into his desk and refused to be dragged away until he had another job with equal or better prestige to move to — the job we’re told he ‘lobbied hard for’, the one whose salary he raised with a flourish of his very own pen.
He took his own people with him, too. You’re not just paying the professor a very high salary for a largely ceremonial role. You’re also paying his canvasser-turned-chauffeur and his personal secretary — while still paying the seasoned professionals who once held those jobs but are now on ‘other duties’.
It’s a step better than the soon-to-be-deposed Joseph Muscat quietly giving a lucrative €90,000 consulting contract to the recently-demoted Konrad Mizzi.
It’s a step lower than former MFSA CEO Joseph Cushieri secretly helping himself to €23,000 in extra pay for a job he was already supposed to be doing.
It’s a step sleazier than former — and future? — Malta Tourism Authority Chairman Gavin Gulia’s parliamentary bait and switch.
I was wrong about the aged former minister. It turns out Slow Eddie wasn’t so slow. In a land of construction cowboys and conman Kinks, Scicluna was the fastest grasp this side of Mt. Maghtab.
I suppose we should have expected something like this. After all, he admitted to the public inquiry that he voted in favour of the Panama Papers minister because he’d be punished if he didn’t toe the line.
“It was either vote in favour or resign,” he said, justifying his decision by pointing out that he’d left a lucrative job in Brussels to enter local politics. Why should he give up take home pay for something as flimsy as personal integrity?
If only he’d expended half the energy guarding the public purse as he did protecting his own salary, you might not be on the hook for Electrogas, Vitals and assorted other scams.
But of course, that would have been asking a spineless yes-man to stand up and say ‘no’.