Norma Saliba, the former Head of News at state broadcaster TVM, will receive a financial package of over €73,000 a year through arrangements she made with Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, The Shift can reveal.
According to her three-year contract, obtained by The Shift through a Freedom of Information request, Saliba will receive a raft of allowances to top her €42,000 basic salary.
These include a transport allowance of €4,658, a communications allowance of €1,800, an expense allowance of €8,000, a training allowance of €2,000, a project allowance of up to €6,300 and a performance bonus of up to €6,300.
The controversial appointment was arranged just weeks after Saliba was forced to resign from her PBS role.
At the same time, the Minister, who rushed to issue a legal notice to give Saliba a new generous salary following a fallout with Executive Chairman Mark Sammut, is now refusing to publish her CV, including her qualifications to run the Centre for the Maltese Language.
Saliba has been called out for having no qualifications for the job.
The Ministry did not explain why the Minister’s handpicked recruit needed such a huge expense allowance – the Centre does not employ anyone else. Neither did the Ministry explain what type of training she would receive.
The contract also specifies that Saliba, the Executive Head of the Maltese Language Centre, will still be kept on the books of PBS as Manager so that she can return to her position in case she has her contract terminated by the Council or if there is a change in Minister or administration. These ‘secondments’ from PBS are usually not permitted.
Council doesn’t walk the talk
So far, despite the fact the Council for the Maltese Language threatened legal action against Bonnici if he did not reverse Saliba’s unwelcome appointment, no court case has been filed.
A few weeks ago, the Council, meant to be responsible for Saliba’s employment, filed a judicial protest, giving Bonnici 10 days to remove Saliba and issue a proper call for the position.
Bonnici completely sidelined the Council in the appointment of Saliba and the setting up of the Centre designed to act as the executive arm of the same Council.
While Bonnici rejected claims that he ignored his legal obligation to consult the Council before the appointment of Saliba, the Council’s Chairman, Olvin Vella, was caught lying to the media about the appointment.
At first, he said he was consulted and agreed, but he later changed his tune and said he did not know anything.
However, text messages published by the Minister later revealed that Vella was told about what would happen and had found no objection.
Vella’s doublespeak caused an uproar within the Council, with members accusing him of lying and of letting himself be used by the Minister for his manoeuvres.
Vella has still not resigned.