Disgraced former parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar – forced to resign over breach of ethics and possibly tax evasion – will be paid more than €30,000 in taxpayers’ money for leaving office.
According to a terminal benefits scheme introduced for members of cabinet in 2008 and secretly boosted twice by disgraced ex-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat before he stepped down, Cutajar is entitled to be paid at least six months of her annual salary and allowances, as terminal benefits.
Cutajar spent just over 12 months in office, for which she was paid over €61,000. However, despite being effectively sacked by Prime Minister Robert Abela for misconduct, The Shift is informed that she will still receive terminal benefits payments.
Indeed, Cutajar may be entitled to more than the €30,000 we’re aware of: the changes to the taxpayer-funded secret scheme introduced by Joseph Muscat just before he was forced out of office remain unpublished.
The Shift revealed the fact that Muscat had changed the formula for his own benefit resulting in him receiving about double the amount he was entitled to while the government continued to blame the Nationalist administration. Prime Minister Robert Abela still refuses to give the public any details about the changes his predecessor introduced to the scheme, which continues to drain public funds without offering any sort of transparency and accountability.
The Shift revealed last month that upon his resignation, disgraced Prime Minister Muscat was paid €120,000 in terminal benefits, though under the 2008 scheme he would have been entitled to just half this amount.
The rise of the former Qormi mayor
Starting as a newscaster on Labour’s One TV in 2010, Cutajar became Qormi’s Labour mayor in 2012 when she was 24-years old. Considered very close to the higher echelons of the then Labour leadership, led by Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri, Cutajar’s political career progressed rapidly from her past as a ‘hostess’ in Sicily to moving swiftly from one lucrative government job to the other.
Her close relationship with Schembri is the stuff of persistent rumours, as she occupied several roles at the OPM after Muscat became prime minister in 2013, moving from managing communications for the CHOGM summit, to assisting former Parliamentary Secretary Deborah Schembri.
Soon after her election to parliament in 2017, Cutajar was then appointed Commissioner for Simplification and Reduction of Bureaucracy, boosting her income by a further €43,000.
In 2020, when Robert Abela defeated Chris Fearne for the Labour Party leadership and took over as prime minister, he promoted Cutajar to parliamentary secretary.
Unlike his treatment of other members of his cabinet who were found in breach of ethics – such as Minister without portfolio Carmelo Abela – Prime Minister Robert Abela immediately confirmed Cutajar’s sacking after the Standards Commissioner found that she had tried to evade tax and had failed to declare income in her declaration of assets following an investigation into the sale of an Mdina property to Yorgen Fenech, who she was “very close to” and who is accused of being complicit in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017.
Abela is a candidate in the same district as Rosianne Cutajar – Qormi. She is considered a firm favourite with Qormi Labour voters, and is known for distributing small gifts and favours to her constituents.
The Opposition continues to demand her removal from Labour’s parliamentary group.