The great divide: top government salaries in perspective

Government favourites get paid staggering sums that are double and sometimes treble what experienced civil servants earn


There have been so many reports of stratospheric six-digit salaries, paid out of taxpayers’ money, being granted to specific, charmed individuals hired to work in ministries, government departments and state-owned companies that they’ve almost become commonplace, normalised. 

But they shouldn’t be. The stark difference between the salaries paid to these government favourites and those paid to normal, hard-working civil servants comes into sharp relief when those sums are placed side-by-side with the government’s official pay-scale measuring stick. 

An analysis by The Shift comparing the sums awarded in these controversial government contracts to its very own schedule of grades highlights just how generous these headline-hitting amounts are.

Since the specific names of the positions are not mentioned in the schedule, The Shift identified their closest equivalent. It must also be noted that most of the awarded lucrative government contracts are definite contracts – which are usually more generous. It is also important to note that the government schedule of grades does not include any additional payments, for example in the form of bonuses or perks.

A general observation of the latest government’s schedule of grades published with the 2022 Budget shows that the large majority of these ‘special’ contracts are above and beyond the amount awarded per annum to grade 1 public servants – the highest salary according to the schedule.

The case of Alex Dalli

In February, The Shift revealed that retired Colonel Alex Dalli, forced out of his job as prisons director last December following a raft of scandals including 13 deaths on his watch, has been granted a new €103,000 job by the government, alongside other allowances.

The Shift’s analysis found that Dalli’s base salary of €103,000 per annum is more than twice those on the highest salary on the schedule of grades – grade 1 – including more than twice that of ambassadors, who earn €40,967 per annum. 

Dalli has been posted overseas, as a government envoy in Libya, to “coordinate with the Libyan authorities on issues related to illegal migration”. When considering his lucrative salary, it is fair to keep in mind that Libya is a conflict-ridden country. The contract is for one year but can be renewed every year, up to a maximum of six years.

More than just a boost for ‘CEOs’

In another salary revelation in January, The Shift reported that Carmen Ciantar, one of Minister Chris Fearne’s main personal campaign managers is receiving a salary worth €163,000 a year for her position as the chief executive officer of the Foundation for Medical Services (FMS). 

The government’s schedule of grades does not include any mention of salaries for the position of a chief executive officer specifically, with the closest being that of a scale 2 permanent secretary, which according to the government’s website, takes on the role of a “principal executive official” within a ministry, or that of a scale 3 director general. The permanent secretary role rakes in €44,354 while the latter rakes in €40,967.00 – almost three times less than Ciantar’s five-year contract.

Similarly, former top aide of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and current head of Malta Enterprise Kurt Farrugia was given a nine-year package starting at €130,000 per annum. His salary will reach a staggering €180,000 if he stays on for nine years, according to a report by The Times of Malta.

Ciantar and Farrugia are far from the only ones getting paid salaries for chief executive roles that are significantly higher than the listed equivalents.

Embattled former MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri was also given a lucrative deal for his chief role. With an annual package up to over €140,000 for a five-year period, along with other generous perks. Cuschieri resigned from the MFSA’s top post only a day before the conclusions of a ‘board of review’ that censured Cuschieri for his actions.

New MFSA boss Joe Gavin was also revealed to be earning a gross salary of €120,000 per annum in a three-year contract, along with an accommodation allowance of €30,000 per annum, and car and fuel allowance of €12,000 a year.

Other “special” contracts include those given to Mariella Dimech and Geraldine Spiteri Lucas.

For her position as CEO of a new government agency regulating the use of cannabis, Mariella Dimech will see her take-home pay catapult to €82,000 a year including perks, according to her three-year contract seen by The Shift. Dimech will be occupying a double role, that of CEO and chairman of an authority.

Geraldine Spiteri Lucas, CEO of the Malta Business Registry as of October, is on a four-year contract of €90,000 a year, as well as a range of other benefits including a fully expensed car.

Costly counsel

A disparity in  the contracts of specific public servants was also evident when compared to the government’s grade schedule in the contracts of MFSA’s General Counsel Edwina Licari and that of Deandra Schembri, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri’s wife in her role as a senior legal officer with the Malta Business Registry.

The Shift revealed that a recent promotion for Schembri within a government department that falls under her husband’s ministry saw her pay increase to a total of €50,000 a year, slightly lower than the official salary of her husband.

This newsroom had also revealed that Edwina Licari, the former general counsel of the MFSA was put on a €100,000 financial package through the personal intervention of CEO Joseph Cuschieri.

When compared to the schedule of grades, this is almost three times more than that paid to the senior counsel, who is set to receive €33,806 as a basic salary.

Bonus… Uncanny timing

In yet another example of unconventional contracts, last year The Shift reported that former finance minister Edward Scicluna gave an €11,000 annual salary increase to his predecessor at the Central Bank just before he was forced to leave politics and started pitching for the same position, which he, of course, got. Scicluna now enjoys a lucrative financial package of over €100,000 a year.

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Raymond Borg
1 month ago

This is why they changed name from Socialist Party to MOVIMENT,( tal FLUS )

Victor Montebello
Victor Montebello
22 days ago
Reply to  Raymond Borg


Anthony Desira
Anthony Desira
1 month ago

That’s the main reason why politicians and closed friends want you to vote. You get the pennies, they get the rest of our money. Amen

Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
1 month ago

Kulħadd jerda’ mill-kaxxa ta’ Malta. X’ma jogħliex id-defiċit.

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
1 month ago

You forgot Guza Cassar the 66 year old Labour stalwart gifted 50 thousand annually from taxpayers money just to promote Clint’s interests in Gozo. Not to mention the hundreds of workers, apparently 500 in Gozo alone that in the final months before the election were given a government job or transferred to non existent, do nothing, just cash in the cheque job. I suggest Shift should investigate if and why there was an influx of individuals registering on part three with Jobsplus, just before election. Also, why on reflection day, Friday, hundreds of ‘interviews’ were allegedly carried out at the NGO centre at Xewkija. Jobs for votes was and is an endemic problem that no one is seriously looking into. The Labour government has been funding a network of private companies, be it cleaning services or security that employs voters they don’t need in return for lucrative government contracts. Follow the money!

Last edited 1 month ago by Winston Smith
1 month ago

Reminiscent of so many movie scenes after a successful bank heist and the loot is being divvied up.

A political insider recently opined that whatever crimes and vices you believe the government to be operating – multiply it by 10 and you will be closer to the truth.

1 month ago

How gullible may people be? Can you honestly believe that sum is all for them…

What a way to kickback!

29 days ago

Government salaries are too low to attract too people: but the problem is that they are given to hbieb tal-hbieb

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