Maltese taxpayers are the victims of a merciless, unending mugging, held down by a baying mob while the larcenists in government empty their wallets, snatch their jewellery and rip out their gold teeth.
This is not an exaggeration. Government ministers, officials, chairpersons, directors, persons of ‘trust’, chums, families; they’re all on the take. And the vast majority of their victims, in the most insane act of collective self-harm imaginable, chant ‘prosit ministru’ and ’40,000’ as loudly as possible, drowning out the few, helpless shouts of outrage from the scandalised minority.
It’s a calamity. Is anyone in charge? Is there a single public servant or official left to turn to, anyone with any sort of executive function who can slam his/her hand down on the desk and say ‘enough!’?
Sacked politicians getting golden handshakes, hoovering up tens of thousands of euros, commandeered from the paltry salaries of office workers, shop assistants, middle management, the hard workers who get up at dawn, toil all day and then return home, wondering how they’re going to put aside enough money to replace their faulty washing machine or pay their children’s school fees.
The same people who faithfully and trustingly vote for the very minister who shamelessly reaches out his hand to snatch his reward for being caught in wrongdoing, for being sacked, for being forced to resign in ignominy.
Malta’s political class has been over-run with cheap, dishonourable money-grabbers. Unashamedly raiding the public purse to fill their own pockets, and those of their familiars, with the hard-earned cash of the humble citizen.
Whoever heard of disgraced, sacked employees, caught in corruption, lying, breaking the law, being rewarded with a golden handshake? The Shift’s shocking investigation into the secret scheme that bestows thousands on undeserving crooks has been eye-poppingly shocking.
Joseph Muscat, disgraced, humiliated, exposed as the harbourer of criminals, thieves and murderers at the very minimum, had the brass neck to grab 120,000 euros out of the nation’s coffers, coffers that he and his coven of crooks have been raiding from the very first day they were handed the keys.
Shamed former minister Konrad Mizzi, handed a cheque for €30,500 – no matter that he was forced out of office because of his shocking involvement in one of the most corrupt deals ever cooked up in Malta, a scam that’s still stealing millions every year from the Maltese public, and from which, incidentally, he was set to pocket €5,000 a day.
Lying brothel-crawler Chris Cardona, implicated in his own personal plot to murder assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, paid €32,000 to help ease the burden of losing his job; though if it had been you or me, in any sort of normal job, we’d have been marched straight to the police station and barely even given a sandwich for a lunch.
Edward Zammit Lewis, sycophantic canoodler of accused murderers and bribers of politicians, took €27,000, though he’s now been reinstated and serves as justice minister – meaning he could be in line for a second payout when he leaves or is kicked out.
Same with Justyne Caruana, married to a bent cop and doling out lucrative contracts to her latest squeeze, who took €28,500 – even though she was back in cabinet within a year. Michael Falzon and Anton Refalo, too, were paid double-digit terminal benefits, only to be brought back into cabinet shortly afterwards.
Sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s, there occurred an incident that first sparked the topic of former ministers and parliamentary officials being paid a ‘terminal benefit’ of some kind. A former MLP minister, who’d failed to get re-elected, was spotted signing on for social security payments. He was apparently destitute and hadn’t been able to find a job.
In those benign years, that we can now look back on as Malta’s halcyon period, long enough after 1987 for the horror of the Mintoff and KMB years to have faded, everyone, no matter their political allegiances, was appalled that a member of the island’s most hallowed institution could be brought to such dire straits.
The arrangement that pays politicians golden handshakes has always been secret, from its inception in 2008 under former PN prime minister Lawrence Gonzi. As a result, I have no idea whether the above-mentioned gentleman’s plight had anything to do with the eventual institution of the scheme, but I think most of us would agree that there should be some form of assistance for former MPs – if they need it, and if they have not disgraced themselves.
The problem with the terminal benefits scheme under this Labour government is that huge sums of money are going to people who don’t need it at all.
Former ministers stepping directly into new, lucrative positions, such as Helena Dalli, who left government in 2019 to become European Commissioner for Equality, on a salary of around €250,000 a year. Her monthly paycheck is almost double what many Maltese earn in a whole year.
And yet, Dalli, commissioner for equality, of all things, still felt justified in helping herself to a further €29,000 from the Maltese taxpayer, in her termination payment.
There are so many other examples of the avaricious, conscienceless nature of Malta’s politicians that it would take hours to list them all. Serving cabinet members who take their salary, as well as a state pension; ministers who voted to keep the two-thirds final salary pension for themselves, while abolishing it and capping State pensions for everyone else at around €12,500.
And no article about mercenary politicians would be complete without mentioning Edward Scicluna, who must take the biscuit for being the most brazen, unabashedly greedy individual to have ever walked the streets of Valletta.
We all remember, of course, his justification for having failed to do anything about the crooked ministers he was supporting and the corrupt deals he was signing off on – after having given up his MEP’s salary, he was damned if he was going to lose his ministerial one too.
This embodiment of Scrooge, now squatting in the Central Bank as its governor, demanded the job in compensation for being sacked as finance minister. He got the then-governor kicked out and boosted the salary by €11,000 to €100,000 as his final act as finance minister.
All this, on top of the three taxpayer-funded pensions he already receives, because he’s in his mid-70s and, his comportment makes clear, he should have been put out to pasture a very long time ago.
Malta’s politicians, on both sides, are now tainted indelibly with the stamp of their own gluttony. There’s no sense of public service in what they do, no concept of respect for the hard-earned euros of the working population that they’ve been entrusted to administer.
The politicians we’ve been cursed with today clearly see the public purse as their own personal piggy bank. And if there’s nothing left to buy air conditioners for schools, or provide decent support to struggling families? Too bad. Whoever heard of muggers caring about the welfare of their victims?