Tista’ taqra bil-Malti
Following her forced resignation as parliamentary secretary, Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar was paid €28,000 in termination benefits from state coffers despite retaining her MP salary and given another €10,000 position, The Shift can reveal.
Cutajar was forced to resign her post as parliamentary secretary in February 2021 following a damning report by the Standards Commissioner that concluded she was involved in brokering a €3.1 million property deal involving Yorgen Fenech who is accused of commissioning the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Cutajar was being pursued to return a €46,000 brokerage fee that had already been paid to her despite the deal falling through following Fenech’s arrest in November 2019.
While Cutajar resigned, Prime Minister Robert Abela did not force her to let go of her parliamentary seat. Yet despite still receiving her MP’s honoraria, the former Qormi Mayor was paid termination benefits for leaving her post even though she only spent 12 months as parliamentary secretary, a Freedom of Information request has confirmed.
Cutajar was paid a full six months’ salary, amounting to €28,000. Apart from the payout, Abela also appointed her Chair of parliament’s Health Committee only two months after her forced resignation, boosting her honoraria by an additional €10,000 a year.
Despite the Standards Commissioner finding Cutajar guilty of a breach of ethics, Abela is again allowing her to contest the general elections on behalf of the Labour Party. Her campaign has been endorsed by disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.
Cutajar, 34, a former ONE TV newscaster, entered the political scene in 2012 when she was elected mayor of Qormi.
Known to be very close to Keith Schembri – Muscat’s former OPM Chief of Staff facing a raft of accusations of financial crime – she managed to get into parliament in 2017. In the meantime, the OPM gave her several government jobs, including appointing her as Commissioner for the simplification and reduction of bureaucracy, for which she was paid €43,000 a year over and above her parliamentary honoraria.
Cutajar was rarely seen at her office during the time and the post was abolished in 2020 when she was appointed parliamentary secretary.
The Shift has reported extensively on the ‘secret’ terminal and transition allowance scheme reserved for retiring members of cabinet, revealing that Joseph Muscat was paid €120,000 from taxpayers after twice changing the scheme twice for his own benefit.
Prime Minister Abela has refused to publish the amendments introduced by Muscat, citing ‘confidentiality’ of cabinet decisions and responding to Freedom of Information requests saying no document was available.
The Shift also revealed that as part of the so-called ‘severance package’ to Muscat, Abela also decided to allow his predecessor to use public property at Sa Maison as his private business office.
Muscat has no government business to attend to and his occupying public property has no basis in law, and neither is it a decision at the discretion of the prime minister. No other former prime minister of the country was granted public property for his own personal use.