Claude Mallia, a 47-year-old architect from Marsascala, who was suddenly catapulted to the post of CEO at the government’s air traffic control company, is being paid some €12,000 a month from government coffers, according to his contract acquired by The Shift through a Freedom of Information request.
Mallia, until last November acting as chairman of one of the Planning Authority’s Commissions, approving hundreds of development permits, joins other Labour loyalists put in positions of power without any call, in exchange for lucrative government salaries paid by taxpayers.
According to Malia’s engagement contract, signed by George Borg Marks, the politically appointed chairman of Malta Air Traffic Services (MATS), Mallia is expected to work a 40-hour week for a basic salary of €114,500 a year.
This is accompanied by a raft of perks, including a €20,000 annual performance bonus, a €2,000 ‘media’ allowance, a fully expensed car, which he is given the right to buy at the end of his contract, health insurance for all his family, free mobile and many other benefits.
Through a specific clause in his contract, which goes directly against a policy issued by Prime Minister Robert Abela, Mallia is also allowed to do ‘other work’ along with his full-time job, including to continue his profession as an architect, “as long as “this does not impair the employee from the proper performance of his duties towards the company and that it does not conflict with the business interests of the company.”
Last year, Robert Abela said that government CEOs will not be allowed to do other jobs or business as they are already adequately paid by taxpayers. However, so far, it seems that the prime minister’s direction is being ignored.
While Finance Minister Clyde Caruana is currently going through a spending review, to try to rein in the bulging deficit, Mallia will be drawing a total of over €140,000 a year from State coffers, even though he has absolutely no qualification in either air traffic services or the management of a large entity.
Sources at MATS told The Shift that Mallia’s appointment, made by then Transport Minister Ian Borg, came as a surprise to many inside the company, including experienced managers, who were expecting to be next in line for the position.
“There are many experienced managers at MATS, including Labour-leaning ones, who were much more competent for the post. However, it seems that they are not considered as ‘red’ as Mallia,” a senior MATS official told The Shift sarcastically.
The official said that during the past years, as in other government entities, MATS has been used by the government to staff it with loyalists and politically appointed employees.
A case in point was the appointment, without a call, of Michael Parnis as the Head of the HR department in 2019. Parnis was the GWU’s deputy general secretary until 2013 and has hopped from one government consultancy to another since his departure.
MATS’ board secretary is Andrew Sciberras, a Labour activist and the son of former judge and Labour MP Philip Sciberras.