‘Free’ services at Dingli feast from Ian Borg’s taxpayer-funded photographer

Minister insists ‘Attard is paid only for official ministerial duties’

 

Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg has once again been making use of public funds for his own political ends, this time through his personal photographer who was placed on the state payroll last May.

Ray Attard, a photographer Borg employed at his ministry through an unprecedented service contract, was last Sunday seen photographing the minister while he visited constituents at the Dingli feast, with photos of the visit later being posted to the minister’s personal social media accounts.

Attard, who, until a few months ago, had been living in Brussels since 2017 where he had a plum job from the Labour administration as a photographer for Malta’s representation to the European Union in Brussels, was seen last Sunday accompanying the minister at the Dingli feast.

Asked by The Shift to name the photographer who had taken the photographs the posted on his social media accounts, Minister Borg did not reply.

Pressed to confirm whether it had been the ministry’s photographer who had taken the photos of Borg with his constituents, the minister would only say that, “Attard is paid only for official ministerial duties”.

Borg had paid two visits to the Dingli feast on Sunday, once in the morning where Attard was spotted shooting the minister as he greeted and posed with constituents. He paid another visit to his hometown’s feast in the evening when he accompanied Indian Minister for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi, who was in Malta for an official visit.

Foreign ministry sources have confirmed with The Shift that Attard was recruited on the sole basis that he was the minister’s friend who would give unconditional services for “all the minister’s needs”, including his personal political campaigning.

One source told The Shift, “The unofficial arrangement is known to everyone at the ministry. The minister hired his friend for a 30-hour-a-week job, which, in reality, does not exist, at least for that amount of time.

“So Attard gives the minister ‘free’ services when they are needed while charging taxpayers for his full 30-hour-a-week contract at a rate of €25 per hour.”

According to Attard’s contract, signed by Permanent Secretary Christopher Cutajar, the photographer is allowed to charge the ministry for up to 30 hours a week up to a maximum of €3,200 a month excluding VAT. Attard is also contractually bound to send, together with an invoice, a breakdown of the hours he claims to have worked.

Attard was, however, allowed to break his contract from day one.  Despite having signed his ad-hoc contract on 18 May, at the month’s end he invoiced the ministry claiming the maximum allowable payment allowed of €3,200 without specifying the services rendered to the ministry or the specific hours he worked. Despite that, the permanent secretary still approved the full monthly payment.

No other minister has ever hired a full-time photographer at his ministry. The government, through the Department of Information, employs a number of photographers on a full-time basis to cover ministerial engagements. While Attard is paid €25 an hour, a senior photographer at the DOI is only paid €10 an hour for the same job.

In June Attard also accompanied the minister on trips to Brazil and New York, on the taxpayers’ euro, but the ministry could not confirm how much Attard’s inclusion in the minister’s delegation had cost.

Sources said that the National Audit Office is already looking into Attard’s contract and its approval by the permanent secretary.

Minister Borg, who never had a job outside politics, has hit the headlines many times in the past over abuse of power, arrogance, and his ambitions to become the Labour Party’s next leader.

Just before the elections when the transport ministry was under Borg’s remit, he approved 20 direct orders in favour of TEC Ltd at a value of almost half a million euros in relation to tents set up for an exhibition on a national metro proposal – a pre-election gimmick and a white elephant.

Shortly after, The Shift revealed that the same company had, incidentally, provided Ian Borg with tents for his own electoral campaign. From invoices submitted to the Electoral Commission after the election, it became crystal clear that the services TEC provided for the minister were charged at much lower rates than those for the ministry’s metro proposal event just a few weeks earlier.

Prime Minister Robert Abela demoted Ian Borg to foreign affairs minister following the last elections in an obvious attempt to clip his rival’s wings. Abela, however, is known for treading carefully when it comes to the minister from Dingli for fear of backlash from hard-core Labour supporters.

                           
                               
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viv
viv
29 days ago

Completely out of control.
Rampant abuse of position.
Daily.
Cancer rests on the throne and the doctors are approving the royal stools.

Francis Said
Francis Said
29 days ago

Our dear Bobby no wonder needs long rests outside Maltese territory. What with Joseph Muscat, Ian Borg and others who have either sidelined in the elections or put on the back bench, EZL, GB as examples are certainly not Bobby’s drinking chums. I forgot that Joseph Portelli has one hand in the Abela camp and the other in the Muscat camp.
So not all is rosy within the PL camp. Now it’s time for the PN to stand up and be counted.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
29 days ago

Ian Borg is still eyeing Castille.

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
29 days ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

Not correct; Versailles

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