Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi, who was appointed as Transport Malta’s chief executive officer a few weeks ago, has ordered that the government entity will no longer be providing free milk for coffee and tea for its 1,000 plus employees.
A tender issued by the transport regulator last month, for “the supply and delivery” of fresh milk, has been immediately cancelled on the Brigadier’s executive orders. Questions The Shift sent to Transport Malta about the change in policy have remained unanswered.
Sources at Transport Malta, meanwhile, have confirmed to The Shift that the slashing of milk provisions is being considered as one of the austerity measures being taken by the authority to reduce its spending. The move comes as part of the reduction in funding being provided by the finance ministry in its bid to control the government’s soaring public debt, which is expected to surpass the staggering €9 billion mark in a few weeks.
Describing the Brigadier’s decision as mere “window dressing”, TM officials said that while the measure has “frustrated employees as its cost is only a few hundred euros a year”, they commented that it would have been better if the CEO had started by taking a cut from his “enormous financial package and perks,” to set a good example.
Following the lead of his former Armed Forces of Malta deputy commander, Colonel Mark Mallia – who was landed with a €100,000 package as the CEO of Identity Malta – Brigadier Curmi, known for his proximity to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, was given a similarly plum job as the CEO of Transport Malta with a €115,000 salary.
According to sources at Transport Malta, the Brigadier was given a brief by Prime Minister Robert Abela to instil discipline at the regulator following years of mismanagement, unnecessary recruitment and the waste of public funds witnessed in the years in which it had fallen under the political remit of former transport minister Ian Borg.
From under 400 employees in 2013, Transport Malta has been inundated over recent years with staff hailing in particular from the former transport minister’s constituencies of Rabat and Dingli. So much so that the regulator ended up with over 1,000 employees.
Over the second half of 2020, according to the latest available data, Transport Malta, at the time under the chairmanship of Joseph Bugeja, forked out a record 350 direct orders with a value of over €6 million.
Measures are now being put in place to reduce costs at the regulator as the finance ministry tightens the purse strings after years of outrageous public spending across the board.
Transport Malta sources have also said that an Ian Borg canvasser, who had been tasked with the distribution of milk to TM’s offices, has now been redirected by the CEO’s office to begin distributing letters and other correspondence to staff. He was, however, allowed to use his company car, which he previously used to distribute cartons of milk cartons to the various TM offices.