Moonlighting MCAST Principal paid two government salaries, taking home €117k a year

The Principal of MCAST, James Calleja, was given a second state-funded position – and being paid two separate salaries – boosting his annual income from taxpayer funds to almost 120,000 a year, more than twice the sum that’s officially paid to his Minister Justyne Caruana, The Shift has found.

Apart from his lucrative five-year contract as principal of the Malta College of Arts, Science & Technology (MCAST), which also give him generous allowances that also expand his financial package, The Shift has discovered that Calleja was also granted a separate 40,000 a year ‘contract of service’ to act as a consultant to the same education ministry that employs him at MCAST.

Calleja refused to answer questions about his second paid position or to explain how he finds the time to fulfil the extra 25 hours a week duty on his ‘consultancy’ at the ministry.

Neither did he explain whether he obtained the necessary permission to do a part-time job, which according to education ministry sources is “very conflicting with his position as principal at MCAST”.

According to rules adopted by MCAST, all members of staff at the tertiary education institution need to get permission in writing from the principal (James Calleja) to do any type of work outside office hours.

It is not known whether Calleja has been given the MCAST board’s permission, or that of the politically appointed Board Chairman Ian Refalo, to do this extra work. 

€77,000 as MCAST Principal not generous enough

A former Head of Secretariat to then-PN Parliamentary Secretary George Hyzler who was later promoted to a permanent secretary, Calleja was one of only three permanent secretaries left in their post after Labour was returned to power in 2013.

He was then selected by then-Education Minister Evarist Bartolo to replace former MCAST Principal, Stephen Cachia, after the latter’s contract was not renewed.

While Calleja was initially given a three-year contract by then college President, Silvio Debono – also a political appointee who was running his private education institution at the same time as heading MCAST– Calleja was awarded his second contract, this time a five-year deal, earlier this year on the instructions of Justyne Caruana.

Apart from an annual salary of 47,000 a year, Calleja’s new contract is peppered with annual ‘allowances’ clearly intended to inflate his remuneration, all of which is paid by taxpayers.

These include a communication allowance – 2,000; responsibility allowance – 7,000; expense allowance – 8,000; travel allowance – 4,658; performance allowance – 7,000 and a qualification allowance – 1,100 – pushing his package up to 77,000 a year.

Calleja appears to have negotiated a much better contract than his predecessor Stephen Cachia, who was paid less than 60,000 a year for the same role.

The Shift has now also discovered that apart from his hefty financial package, which compared to other public sector grades is especially generous, Calleja was also given a separate ‘consultancy’ contract by the education minister, for which he was paid an additional 40,000 a year.

According to his consultancy contract, Calleja is bound to work an extra 25 hours a week to provide advice on the ‘national skills strategy for the labour market’ – which is surprising given this should clearly already be covered by his role at MCAST – the island’s institution for vocational training.

Calleja has failed to respond to queries about when he is providing this consultancy, what time is he attending the education ministry, where his office is and whether this consultancy is still ongoing.

His last one year contract expired earlier this year and it is not yet known whether it was renewed.

Calleja refused to give any details.

His only reply to The Shift’s questions was: “I completely (evidence-based) fulfil my job as Principal/CEO. The trust reposed in me by successive ministers is ample confirmation of this.”

Beleaguered institution

Only last week The Shift revealed that a police investigation has been ongoing for the past two years on a damning inquiry report which recommended criminal action against top MCAST officials for perjury and falsification of interview examination results in order to help politically recommended lecturers get certain posts.

The report also states that this ‘recommendations system’ was also used for higher-ranking posts, including the recruitment of the principal.

Also, MCAST is being accused by one of its most experienced senior lecturers, Peter Gatt, of a campaign of ‘victimisation’.

According to Gatt, the orchestrated campaign against him started soon after he reported about an alleged web of abuse among lecturers and in the college’s administration. The senior lecturer was taken off lecturing duties, declared  persona non grata and eventually transferred to a secondary school. 

The court blocked this transfer, while the Ombudsman described MCAST’s reaction as “an oppressive act tantamount to degrading treatment”.

Just a day after the court ordered MCAST to stop the transfer, Principal Calleja wrote to Gatt informing him that he would not be receiving his salary any longer as he was no longer considered to be an MCAST staff member.

Court proceedings instituted by Gatt against MCAST are ongoing.

                           
                               
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Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
19 days ago

It is all so blatant.

frederick michael frendo
frederick michael frendo
19 days ago

have we got a prime minister ?

M.Galea
M.Galea
19 days ago

Its all coming from him!

carlo
carlo
19 days ago

NO we have a puppet taking orders from the most corrupt pm Malta ever had. After all, you cannot expect any better.

mick
mick
19 days ago

Isn’t this normal? Just asking.

Alexander
Alexander
19 days ago

Rent seeker iehor dan! nies bla principji

carlo
carlo
19 days ago

HALLELIN TA FLUS IL-HADDIEM. Kif ma tisthux tidrhu quddiem nies; tliftu giehkhom ghall-flus li qieghdin tisirqu minn halq il-haddiem onest, l-anzjani u l-marid. As instructed by the spouse of the most corrupt pm Malta ever had, you’re really making hay whilst the sun shines.

James
James
19 days ago

Mcast is in the process of building a ‘Resource Centre’ costing over 30 million euro, sometimes referred to as ‘Research hub’ although not a single laboratory will be included!
Just imagine the greedy fingers in the pie of James Calleja and education ministry top brass (Perm Sec) in this over priced project?

Last edited 19 days ago by James
S.Borg
S.Borg
19 days ago

I can assure you there’s more like him. These people are robbing the poor.

James
James
19 days ago

Just another day in paradise for the “ untouchables “ paid for by the tax payers in Malta and the rest of the E.U.

gadflyg
gadflyg
19 days ago

What never ceases to amaze me is the PN reaction to all this sleaze. Is it possible that they do not have the courage to denounce in the most uncertain terms occurrences such as this one? Are they so afraid that the reaction would be: ‘But you have done the same.’ Such an accusation can easily be rebutted by PN spokesman saying clearly and unequivocally that (a) the past is no consolation, that they too committed grave mistakes; (b) a definite undertaking that such practices will never again be repeated under an eventual government; and (c) an invitation to all voters to opt to vote for a party other than the PN if, once in government, they do the same thing. I suspect that the PN does not have the courage to take such steps. Of course, neither will the MLP refrain from milking Malta’s treasury to the best of their abilities. This has been their mission since the first day of government and if there is still one politician on that side who has not been tainted, such a politician resembles the mouse who is afraid to take a stand, to fight for the good of his country (and his own party), to be an example to his colleagues and to all of us. That courage is totally and completely lacking. Under the pretext that they do not want to rock the boat, and under the illusion that things can change of their own motion, they retain their comfortable seats seeing the country slowly and inexorably degenerating into a cesspit. Of course, they are well aware that we, the voters, do not actually care to much. The continuous raiding of public funds by those we have elected will – we are sure – one day benefit also us. That is the said predicament of Malta. No wonder that many youths do not identify with the island of their birth and want to leave. For myself, though well past youth, I identify with them.

Anthony Borg
Anthony Borg
17 days ago
Reply to  gadflyg

Gadlyg do you read parliamentary debates and parliamentary questions from PN deputies?

matt
matt
19 days ago

and in the meantime MCAST is going to fire, oh sorry, “not renewing the contract” for several student mentors. Not only, MCAST according to the last report, that you can find in the bottom of the MCAST website – Annual Return, closed 2020 with a net profit of 2,5€ millions. So they have the money to keep employing the student mentors, but I guess they prefer to invest in the construction of some new building

Franco Galea
Franco Galea
17 days ago

He is also the EfVET President!

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